KARACHI - The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) has invited the attention of Ministry of Commerce (MOC), Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to take notice jointly of the fall in basmati rice exports and examine the causes and plan to resolve the issues facing rice exporters seriously as the country cannot afford to lose the global rice markets developed by big efforts of the rice exporters over several years.

President Unisame Zulfikar Thaver said the SME basmati rice exporters are unable to export to global destinations due to the increase in prices of aromatic varieties due to increase in cost of production of farmers, millers and processors.

He said freight rates have also gone up due to the unfavorable rate of exchange adding to the woes of the rice exporters.

Thaver said SME rice exporters are unable to ship rice to third world countries and letter of credits received from buyers in these countries are refused discounting by commercial banks mainly as ranking of the banks are low.

Due to this refusal most of the buyers have shifted to India which has the facility of Export Credit Guarantee Insurance (ECGI) for the SME exporters, he added.

Thaver said that due to long power outages in Punjab, the major basmati growing belt, the rice processing machinery has to run on generators which is costing them twice the cost per unit of electricity. Secondly the farm inputs have become very costly, the price of seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides and packing materials have increased substantially.

The union has urged the government to subsidise farm inputs, ensure supply of energy for rice processing, reduce withholding tax on exports to 0.5 percent and exempt rice packing material from import duties.