The Punjab government is planning to privatise market committees to regulate marketing of grains, fruits and vegetable items with a view to safeguard interests of traders, growers and exporters. The privatization of market committees will provide growers a direct access to markets to sell their produce, providing a level-playing field to all stakeholders.

The provincial ministry of agriculture will also hold discussions on the subject with the stakeholders and inform them about the reforms being carried out in market committee systems so as to facilitate both the buyers as well as sellers.

These views were expressed by Punjab Agriculture Secretary Muhammad Mahmood while talking to a delegation of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan which met him in the lead of its chairman Ch Samee Ullah Naeem.

He said that the market committees’ functions under a public-private partnership arrangement will be further debated with the stakeholders before its final implementation with a view to smooth marketing of fruits, vegetable and grains.

The secretary said that the government will also establish various facilities near the markets to enhance the quality of different commodities, besides drying the grins to the allowed limit of moisture with a view to reach the markets smoothly and fetching better prices.

REAP chairman, on this occasion, raised several issues with the Punjab secretary, impeding the growth of rice exports from Pakistan.

He warned of the increasing sensitivity by the European countries against the use of different pesticides especially Biphenyl and Carbendazim.

He said though Biphenyl and Carbendazim are being used in negligible quantity in Pakistan by the rice growers but awareness should be created against use of those pesticides whose minimum residue level (MRL) are expected to be revised next year by the EU.

He also asked the Punjab government to take the National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) and Pakistan Seed Association (PSA) on board of the Punjab Rice Research & Development Board to streamline the research as well as developing new seeds so that rice production could be enhanced.

Ch Samee requested the government to approve new basmati rice seed variety developed by the Kalashah Kaku Research Institute and National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering to enhance yield. He said that though our Gulf rice market has squeezed yet we can compensate this loss by diverting our supply to new potential markets, he added.

The secretary assured him of reviewing the issues, doing the needful in the larger interest of the growers and the exporters. He also accepted the demand of the rice exporters and directed to include PSA and the NIBGE on board of the Punjab Rice Research and Development Board to develop commercially viable varieties.

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