Karachi, March 15, 2016 (PPI-OT): The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has requested the standing committee (SC) on rice of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) to particularly discuss the Geographical Indication (GI) and Trade Mark (TM) issues in its meeting on 16th March 2016 at the Federation House and also recommend short and long term measures needed to save the rice industry.
UNISAME also stressed the need to invite the representatives of the ministries of commerce, industry, science and technology and agriculture to the meeting to discuss the issues and to join hands and work collectively for the modernization of rice farming, milling, processing and marketing and to enable it to meet the global challenges.
President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said the SMEs are badly affected and more than 1000 units have closed down. Exports have also declined. FPCC and I standing committee is supposed to discuss the issues threadbare and not avoid crucial matters which the sector cannot afford to ignore. It is very important that it gives serious consideration to the GI and TM issues of basmati rice in view of the orders of the Indian Court and its consequences.
He said we fail to understand why the SC is avoiding to discuss the GI and TM issue. Secondly the rice supply chain is badly affected due to high cost of production. The taxes on farm inputs have made them costly. The SME rice farmers, millers, processors, traders and exporters are in turmoil due to the step motherly treatment of the government. The only answer to survival is improving the supply chain, value addition, quality bench marking and entering non traditional markets.
Thaver urged Rafique Suleman chairman FPCC and I committee on rice to include in the agenda the up gradation of the industry, the marketing support by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and invite the officers of the ministries of agriculture, commerce, industry and science and technology to attend the meeting and co-ordinate with one another for the uplift of the rice sector.
UNISAME after carrying out a study of the requirements for the uplift of the sector stated that dedicated efforts are required from grass root level from modernization of farming, milling, processing, packing and marketing. The FPCC and I standing committee can request and impress upon the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) under the ministry of industries and the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) under the ministry of science and technology to join hands for modernization of the rice industry.
SMEDA and PCSIR could take up the issues of paddy drying, parboiling, steaming and preparation of iron and vitaminized rice and also pre-cooked rice. Various products can be made from rice flour and rice grains if PCSIR could educate the sector on increasing shelf life of the products. PCSIR is capable of doing great work for the sector Thaver said.
The Rice Research Institute under the ministry of agriculture also needs to do more and develop new varieties. We have only a handful of varieties whereas our neighbour India has many and we need to compete in the global market. The ministry of commerce needs to intervene in the basmati Geographical Indication (GI) matter and also the basmati trade mark issue and resolve the matter with the Intellectual Property Organization and the Registrar of Trade Marks in national interest.
Thaver said we have lost the markets of Iran, Gulf and Middle East. Although we have never really entered Europe and USA, there is scope as our super basmati rice is far superior to the 1121 non basmati rice of India. TDAP and Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) will need to make great efforts to popularize our super basmati rice which is tasty, aromatic and cooks exceedingly well and is undoubtedly the best rice in the world.
The rice exporters need finance facility for export to third world countries and to buyers who are banking with low rating banks. There is urgent need for export credit insurance at low premium just like India has done to promote exports to third world countries. The third world countries have rice as their staple food. India has captured their markets and we are lagging behind.
Same is the case with Iran unless the facility for smooth transactions exist there can be no breakthrough. India developed the currency agreement with Iran long ago whereas we were not yet ready to displease the sanction authors. However Iran has now been provided the SWIFT facility for currency transaction and our exporters need to make efforts to regain the lost market.
For more information, contact:
Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME)
75/1 3rd Commercial Street,
Phase IV, D.H.A., Karachi, Pakistan
Cell: +92-300-8245307, +92-321-8245307