LAHORE: The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) on Wednesday protested against the cabinet’s move to ban the export of all edible goods and urged the government to withdraw the decision immediately as it would hit the economy hard.
The request was made at an emergency meeting of REAP at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). Rice exporters were of the view that the ban on export of all edible items was quite unwise, illogical and an anti-business move. “It will hit the rice sector hard that is earning $2.2 billion annually in the form of foreign exchange for the country,” the association asserted.
Furthermore, it pointed out, rice was not a staple food in Pakistan. “This year, we have produced 7.5 million tons, domestic consumption is 2.9 million tons per annum, 0.6 million tons are used as feed in the poultry sector and 0.8 million tons have been carried over from last year. We had a surplus of 4.8 million tons this year,” it added.
“We exported 3.1 million tons in the past nine months ended March 31, 2020. New crop planting will start from mid-May and will continue till July 15. The new crop will be available after four and a half months.”
The association said rice exporters were left with 2.1 million tons and by the arrival of new crop, in the next five months, the country needed 0.9 million tons. “It means we have a surplus of almost 1.2 million tons.”
Moreover, it pointed out that Pakistan was a responsible state and had never banned rice exports even in the worst crisis of 2007-08 when India slapped a ban.
It asked the government to withdraw the decision immediately that was bound to create havoc in the rice sector besides hurting employment of millions of people.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2020.
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