Lahore - The second largest export-oriented sector of rice, with its more than $2 billion annual export, is still striving for its recognition as an industry.

The fragmentation in supply chain partners, including farmers, millers and exporters poses a bigger challenge. The issue at farm levels poses threat for export destinations while the local millers that handle 70 percent of paddy, are ignorant of good milling and storage practices which deteriorates the grain quality and add pain to the agony.

This was stated by Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan Chairman Chaudhry Sameeullah in a presentation to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by the Standing Committee Chairperson Shaza Fatima Khawaja, REAP SVP Rafeeq Suleman, Secretary Kashifur Rehman, representatives of Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Food Security, TDAP and Ministry of Industries.

REAP chairman observed that the competing countries, including Thailand, India, USA, Brazil, had recognised their rice sector as an industry that benefitted with the formulation of policies to increase yields at farm levels and improvement the quality for exports.

“The current fragmentation of sector is a barrier to development.

Declaration of rice sector as an industry would help in the formation of consolidated policy that will help in the integration of all supply chain stakeholders into one chain,” he said, and added, “The Ministry of Industry would in turn help government with relevant policies to add value to rice supplies from farms till forks. The step to declare rice sector an industry would benefit with 30% higher exports (Additional $500 million) by saving Post-Harvest Losses (20%) and increasing exports to high-valued destination by 30 percent.”

The Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Food Security officials supported REAP stance. In a bid to address the body’s concern, Shaza Khawaja assured the delegates of her fullest support for the sector to be recognised as an industry.

Others matters, including inclusion of Rice in Chinese FTA, Release of Funds from EDF Board for Rice Technical Training Institute, Reap stance of Zero Tolerance on Mandatory Pre-shipment Inspection were also discussed. The committee will submit its proposals to Minister of Commerce, Pervaiz Malik for due implementation for increasing rice exports.