KARACHI - Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) President Zulfikar Thaver has said rice industry is stagnating and facing tough times due to lack of planning on the side of the ministries of agriculture, commerce and finance.

According to the statement, Thaver said rice exporters deserve the best attention from the government as next to textiles it is the most important foreign exchange earning sector. The export of basmati rice has suffered a setback and non basmati rice is not fetching good price. The farmers are in turmoil because of high cost of inputs. They are getting inferior seeds, fertilizers and the pesticides and insecticides are counterfeit and fake, he added.

He said, surprisingly the growers associations are passive and not taking up the matter with the authorities. If this state of affairs continues it will damage the industry. The milling plants have old machinery and are not resorting to paddy drying by machines. The merchants in U.A.E are importing our rice and blending it with Indian rice and exporting it as Indian rice. Pakistani exporters have worked hard to establish their brands but are facing decline in buying due to the unfair practices of Indian merchants in U.A.E.

The rice commissioner is not playing an effective role as banned varieties are being cultivated and there is less focus on our superior varieties of rice known for their aroma, length, taste and cooking abilities, he added.

President (UNISAME) said, it is expected that REAP would advocate the cause of the rice exporters and enable the rice exporters to repay the banks the huge amounts borrowed under export refinance scheme as unless and until the exports pick up the exporters liabilities will keep increasing. The Indian rice exporters have become very active and giving us a tough time. The Indian government has subsidized inputs for farmers making them competitive and strengthening them to face challenges.

The (UNISAME) has urged the candidates for managing committee (MC) elections of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) to declare their groups manifesto for the tenure they are seeking to be elected as members of the MC. The rice exporters are eager to know how the candidates plan to promote the industry to make it competitive and overcome the challenges faced by the big and small rice exporters.