KARACH: Dr Sohail Rajput, Chief Secretary Sindh on Wednesday said the government of Sindh will extend full support to resolve issues of rice exporters to bring more foreign exchange in the country.

Addressing a lunch hosted by Rice Exports Association of Pakistan (Reap) in his honor, Rajput said that agriculture sector is the backbone of the country’s economy, however, there is a lack of research & development in this important sector, of which the per acre yield is much lower than other countries.

He said young generation has to step forward and contribute its role for the growth of economy.

He said the Sindh government is fully committed to facilitating the agricultural sector and willing to initiate various projects on Public Private Partnership to support the agricultural sector particularly farmers.

He welcomed Reap’s proposals for the betterment of the rice sector and suggested holding a separate meeting of Reap team and Sindh Govt Officials next week to proceed further. He also assured full support of the government of Sindh for the betterment of the rice export sector.

The Chief Secretary said that Reap is a very dynamic association and is earning billions of dollars for the country.

He said that global climate change is a new challenge and there is a need to make policies ahead of climate changes. “We already have a shortage of water and climate change has created more challenges for the agriculture sector. This year water arrival is delayed due to climate change and there is also a need to advocate for the farmers for this challenge,” he added.

New seed varieties are needed to be introduced and the Sindh government will facilitate the farmers and exporter for new seeds’ cultivation.

Although Pakistan is an agricultural country, despite that it is facing a commodity shortage. The country is also facing a wheat shortage and will import 3 million tons of wheat to meet the domestic demand, Rajput mentioned.

Pakistan’s external account is under pressure due to rising trade deficit. As per estimates, Pakistan will have Rs 45 billion trade deficits by the end of this fiscal year. Policy rate is already higher at 13.75 percent.

“We can earn billions of dollars through IT exports. This year Pakistan’s IT exports will be 2.7 billion and still there is scope of massive growth,” he said.

He appreciated the suggestion of energy saving through daylight and said that the proposal of energy saving through daylight will be put in the next cabinet meeting.

Anwar Mianoor, Senior Vice Chairman Reap in his welcome address informed that rice from Sindh province has a huge share in total rice exports from Pakistan. Therefore, REAP has meetings with the Chief Secretary, Secretary Agriculture, Sindh Govt to enhance the agricultural output.

He informed that Reap has submitted proposals for the betterment of rice crop and rice exports. Implementing these proposals, the government can enhance per acre yield and the former will definitely be the main beneficiary of these reforms.

He thanked Sindh Govt for considering REAP’s proposal, especially to Secretary Agriculture to approve the Phytotron Tunnel Project. This project will be a game changer in the agriculture sector, he added.

Abdul Rauf Ibrahim, Chairman KWGA suggested that as per international practices business hours should be 9 am to 7 pm to save energy. Solar energy should be promoted and all taxes on imports must be abolished, he demanded.

He expressed concern over the unstable exchange rate and said that dollar impact on commodities is very adverse and Rs 2 increase in dollar resulted in Rs 5 price hike in commodities prices. He also demanded duty free import of agriculture equipment to facilitate the farmer.

Rafique Suleman former chairman Reap said that rice exporters are playing an important role in the country’s economy. Currently, exporters are working for the entire rice chain from seed to export to earn more foreign exchange for the country.

He said that Pakistan can earn $3 billion annually by exporting rice in the next two year however there is a need to enhance the crop output.

Abdul Rahim Janoo, Chairman South Zone Group and Shahid Tawawalla also addressed the gathering.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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