Stakeholders demand swift review of rice standards

Rice exporters of Pakistan have urged the government to expedite the review of Pakistan’s rice standards and eliminate unreal specifications which are causing hardships for the entire rice sector and affecting exports.

Stakeholders demand swift review of rice standards

After lengthy efforts, rice experts and exporters of the country had submitted detailed requests for amendment in rice standards but due to lack of response, the sector remains affected, said Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) President Zulfikar Thaver.

Speaking to The Express Tribune on Saturday, he requested Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry to direct Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) to speed up the amendment process.

The procedure is lengthy because prior to the amendment, the draft has to go through several connected agencies such as Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) and others, he said.

“However sufficient time has elapsed by the authorities even after accounting for this inevitable delay,” he said.

Thaver said that PSQCA Head of the Agricultural Department Naseemus Sami had given him time to present the grievances of the small and medium scale rice exporters and hoped that it would bring the process of amendment back on track. PSQCA established rice standards in 1993, which it revised in 2007, said rice and commodities expert Hamid Raza.

“However, the 2007 version is not practical due to hundreds of technical errors.”

He recalled meeting the authorities and submitting a review of the standards with comments on January 14, 2013.

“I was told that PSQCA would hold a technical committee meeting and invite me to explain the issues but unfortunately, I did not hear back from them ever since,” he lamented.

He stressed that standard specifications of different varieties of rice needed amendments because rice admixtures and other percentages mentioned in the manual, known as the green book, were outdated.

“Due to this issue, rice exporters have a hard time meeting the standards which in turn raises the cost of production and make Pakistan’s exports uncompetitive in the global market,” he said.

Cereal Association of Pakistan (CAP) Chairman Muzzamil Chappal emphasised on enhancing research and development in Pakistan and lamented that the country lagged in this sphere.

“Every effort must be made to steer research and development ecosystem in the country,” he said. “Without it, we will be left behind other nations.”

SME Farmers Association (SMEFA) Chairman Haji Muhammad Saeed urged PSQCA to expedite the process of revision and amendment of rice standards to save farmers of small and medium sized enterprises from incurring mammoth losses.

Originally published at The express tribune