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WWF-Pakistan holds National Stakeholder dialogue on sustainable rice growing practices

Posted on 23 May 2017

Islamabad,WWF-Pakistan, in cooperation with the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and Mars Food/Rice Partners Ltd, convened the first Sustainable Rice Platform National Stakeholder Dialogue and Workshop in Islamabad, bringing together high-level stakeholders across the spectrum to foster sustainable rice growing. The objectives of the one-day workshop was to highlight sustainability challenges in the country’s rice sector at both field and policy levels and to develop a collaborative multi-stakeholder action plan which includes an institutional framework for all stakeholders to incentivize adoption of sustainable best practice among rice smallholders.

The workshop was attended by Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister of State for Information Broadcasting and National Heritage; Muhammad Abid Javed, Secretary of Agriculture, Ministry of National Food Security and Research; Saeed Ahmad Mangnejo, Secretary of Agriculture, Government of Sindh; James Lomax, Chairman Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP); Muhammad Mahmood, Secretary of Agriculture, Government of Punjab; Muhammad Irfan Tariq, Director General (Environment) Ministry of Climate Change; Imitiaz Ali Gopang and Dr. Syed Waseem ul Haque, National Food Commissioners; and Khalid Rasool, Director Trade Development Authority Pakistan, along with academicians and experts from various universities of the country.

Rice carries significant economic importance for Pakistan; it is the nation’s second most important food staple after wheat, and is the country’s largest export crop (3.8 million Metric Tonnes per annum). The country has more than a thousand rice mills catering to the need of farmers growing 5.54 million tonnes per annum on an area of 2.5 million hectares. This important crop accounts for 6.7% of value added in the agricultural sector, and 1.6% of national GDP. Pakistan enjoys a strong competitive advantage in the export sector due to consumer preference in destination markets for aromatic and long grain rice.

Speaking on the occasion Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan, said that according to recent studies climate change, and its impacts on extreme weather and temperature swings, is projected to reduce the global production of corn, wheat, rice and soybeans by 23% until 2050. “The time is ripe for us to adopt sustainable practices in the rice sector like increased organic production, efficient use of water and tilling less which could help offset climate-induced losses. Whereas, our rice exports have more than quadrupled from 1990 to 2010 but it has come with a price— depleting a quarter of our country’s non-renewable groundwater. This process spells havoc for the future if not addressed now.” Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister of State for Information Broadcasting and National Heritage, praised WWF-Pakistan’s efforts in promoting sustainable practices across the country and has played a vital role in familiarizing farming communities with basics of sustainable agriculture. “Today I feel proud to say that I’ve remained a part of WWF-Pakistan and without any bias I admit the organisation is working hard towards achieving a smart and sustainable agricultural policy, the dividends of which we shall reap in years to come,” she added.

The panel discussions focused on how alternative methods for growing rice should both be commercially and economically viable. The need for galvanizing an important and rapidly growing demand in the marketplace for sustainably produced products was also discussed. Unsustainable water use in rice supplier nations has the potential to ripple outward causing food crises half way across the globe. The situation demands adoption of improved practices and techniques to promote sustainable rice production and consumption in Pakistan. To truly identify sustainable production methods and move beyond statements of principles to measurable conservation results, robust, scientifically-based measures or indicators are needed to assess impacts and evaluate tradeoffs between different kinds of production systems in regard to an environmental criterion.


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