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Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) newly elected Chairman Shahjahan Malik has vowed to work for the collective goal of increasing rice exports from present level of US$2 billion to US$5 billion in next less than five years by overcoming different issues being faced by the crop and ensuring enough exportable surplus.

Speaking at the 21st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at Karachi, Shahjahan Malik said that supply chain issues, post-harvest losses and lowering the cost of production will be the main issues to be tackled to make US$5 billion dollars exports in next five years.

He was of the view that most effective remedy to lowering the cost of production is increasing the per acre yield. He said this has been witnessed in case of coarse variety where hybrid rice replaced IRRI and took tremendous yield jump. He said we will be working in collaboration with the private and public research institutes to introduce such new varieties and hybrid varieties in Basmati rice too which could ensure quantum jump in its production and economic well-being of the farmers.

Shahjahan dubbed the value addition and branding as the other two more important steps being introduced in the rice trade to achieve the growth in exports and fetching back precious foreign exchange to ultimately strengthening the national economy.

He hoped that the elders of the association would continue supporting him during his tenure as Chairman as they extended during his tenure as Senior Vice Chairman. He especially mentioned Shahzad Ali Malik and Zahid Khawaja for supporting him in getting listed Pakistani 1121 Basmati rice in UK Code of Practice.

Earlier the Election Commission REAP announced winners of the 2019-20 elections which include Shahjahan Malik as Chairman, Muhammad Raza as Senior Vice Chairman, Muhammad Wali as Vice Chairman and Abubakar Farooq Mirza as Treasurer. All elected unopposed and represent the younger lot of the exporters. Pir Nazim Hussain Shah, REAP Secretary General Kashif ur Rehman and outgoing Senior Vice Chairman Ali Hussam Asghar were also present on this occasion.

Chairman of the victorious Founder Group, Shahzad Ali Malik and Abdur Raheem Janoo in their address stressed the need for resolving the supply chain management issues to achieve the US$5 billion export target set by the government and owned by the rice exporters. They also stressed the need for holding a Basmati Rice conference in Punjab just as one conference was arranged in Larkana by the previous body to discuss the issues faced by the coarse varieties and find their solutions.

Shahzad Malik disclosed that he was holding discussions with the government functionaries to resolve the issues being faced by the rice crop. He said according to a research 4500 liters of water is required to produce one kilogram of rice. He said the private sector is working on producing drought-tolerant varieties to tackle the issue of scarcity of water just like it is working on producing a heat tolerant and salinity tolerant varieties. He said heat wave this year caused sterility problem in rice crop in Sindh.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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