Rice necessary human food crop feeding millions: Gardezi

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ISLAMABAD,17  Oct  2021 : Punjab Agriculture minister, Syed Hussain Jahania Gardezi has said that rice is the most important human food crop in the world, directly feeding more people than any other crop.

He said that it is amazingly diverse, both in the way it is grown and how it is used by humans, said a press release issued here on Sunday.

He was the Chief Guest of the seminar on “Public Private Partnership in Rice towards Crop Sustainability and Farmers Livelihood” organized by Rice Partners (Pvt) Limited (RPL) .

He said that rice is 3rd most important crop of Pakistan, which covers an area of 2.89 million hectares, with milled rice production of 7.44 million tons.

He also highlighted the interventions made by government for development of agriculture sector.

Other speakers Chief Executive Officer RPL, Mr. Muhammad Ali Tariq, Director Rice Research Institute Kala Shah Kaku, Dr. Muhammad Rafique, Director General Agri Extension Punjab, Dr. Muhammad Anjum Ali Buttar, Head of Smart Farmer Community RPL, M,r. Zafar Iqbal ,Director Agri Extension Multan, Dr. Shehzad ul Haq, Senior Adviser RPL, Dr. Riaz Mann threw light on the significance of water productivity and sustainable rice production.

The Minister said that rice is unique because it can grow in wet environments that other crops cannot survive in.

He said that such wet environments are abundant across Asia particularly in Pakistan.

The domestication of rice ranks as one of the most important developments in history and now thousands of rice varieties are cultivated on every continent except Antarctica, he informed.

While on the occasion, Chief Executive Officer RPL, Muhammad Ali Tariq said that despite having more glaciers than anywhere else in the world and its location in the Indus River Basin, Pakistan continues to experience acute water scarcity, largely driven by drought and intensive agriculture.

He said that Pakistan has an extensive agriculture sector, which uses flood methods of irrigation to grow water-intensive crops.

Chief Executive Officer RPL said that water infrastructure in Pakistan is outdated and in poor condition, which wastes even more water, while little is stored because of a lack of reservoirs and sediment build-up in existing facilities.

He further added that we have to develop an action plan and implement it in true spirit so that the farmers could produce the rice with minimum use of water without any yield or quality penalty.

Director Rice Research Institute Kala Shah Kaku, Dr. Muhammad Rafique said that modern mechanical harvesting of basmati rice varieties at the premature stage is common, leading to increased post-harvest losses and infestation of microbial organisms in the paddy due to improper drying and storage facilities.

Head of Smart Farmer Community RPL, Zafar Iqbal said that RPL has trained thousands of farmers on sustainable rice production and also provided them the facility of land laser leveling on 50% cost sharing basis.

He said that RPL has provided Alternate Wetting and Drying Tubes (AWD Tubes) and safety kits to thousands of farmers free of cost.

He also narrated that RPL considered that the dream of Sustainable Rice Production cannot fulfill without betterment of agriculture laborers so RPL has made various interventions i.e.

Skill Development Program, Childcare Facilities, Trainings on Human Rights and Free Healthcare facilities.

He said that all these interventions are being done with the intention of to ensure decent working conditions in rice value chain of Pakistan.

Thousands of agriculture laborers have been benefitted through these interventions. Dr. Shehzad ul Haq said that presently irrigation system is being implementing through Public Private Partnership (PPP) due to inefficiency of public sector.

The PPP is better approach due to public sector financing and efficiency of private sector.

Director General Agri Extension Punjab, Dr. Muhammad Anjum Ali Buttar said that the incumbent government is highly dedicated to improvise the agriculture sector of Pakistan.

For this purpose a lot of subsidy schemes have been launched and theses schemes are profiting the farmers, he said.

He said that still there is a need to revise the schemes so that the small landholder farmers could also benefit from these schemes.

He stressed that the other rice millers should follow the Water Productivity (WAPRO) model of RPL to reduce the consumption of water and to enhance the productivity of water.