Rice exporters stressed to ensure decent working conditions for Sustainable Rice Production

ISLAMABAD:Rice Partners Pvt Ltd (RPL) one of the top rice exporters of Pakistan in collaboration of Helvetas Pakistan and Swiss Solidarity on Sunday organized a seminar on ‘Awareness on Standard Operating Procedure’ to ensure decent working conditions for sustainable rice production for rice millers and rice growers.

A number of representatives of following rice mills Matco Foods, Atlas Foods, Superfoods, Anwaar Corporation, Goraya Rice Mills, Engro Eximp, Khan Rice Mills, Sakina Rice Industry and Al Wahab Rice Mill participated in the event, said a press release issued by RPL here.

Besides, a dozen farmers and agriculture laborers attended the event.

Head of smart farmers Community RPL , Mr. Zafar Iqbal while giving the opening remarks highlighted the initiatives of RPL to promote and ensure decent working conditions in the rice value chain of Pakistan.

RPL has trained thousands of farmers on sustainable rice production and also provided them the facility of land laser leveling on a 50 percent cost sharing basis.

He also narrated that RPL is also working for welfare of agriculture labor. RPL established Community Mother Centres at multiple villages of district Sheikhupura in which decent environment was provided to the children of agriculture labour particularly female rice transplanters.

Senior Child Rights Activist and Consultant Dr. Waqas A Khan said that rights of children are the key of SRP protocols so the rice millers must give attention to this. He said that physical, emotional and psychological health of children belonging to agriculture labour must be considered for a conducive working environment in the rice value chain.

He said that the protection of children and vulnerable adults is a collective social responsibility.

He said that we must protect the fundamental rights of children particularly right to name, education, health, safety, security; freedom of expression, freedom of association without any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, religion, caste and creed.

Besides the seminar while talking to the reporter, Chief Executive Officer of RPL Muhammad Ali Tariq has said, that child rights should be prioritized in every sector including the agriculture sector.

He also highlighted the mode of communication to create the awareness for children’s rights and their protection, especially who belongs to the families working in the rice value chain.

He said that to engage the children in labour work whether forcefully or voluntarily is now a crime in Pakistan and everyone who is present here must raise his/her voice against this crime.

He also highlighted the referral mechanism to report the cases of violation of rights of children.

He further added that there are a number of government and non-government organizations that are working for protection of rights of children.

Project Officer, Rice Partners Pvt Ltd, Rizwan Ali also concluded the seminar.

He said that working conditions of the farms were highly hazardous and exposed children to several risks of insect bites, injuries and infections, exposure to extreme heat and pesticides without any shelter.

He added that keeping in view the hazardous conditions of farms RPL provided moveable backpack canopies covered from all sides to the children of rice transplanters to avoid the insects and provision of shelters along with the dry food, repellents, and water coolers in rice cultivation region of the Punjab.