Rice Exporters Vow to Provide Decent Conditions for Families of Rice Growers


ISLAMABAD, Aug 22 (APP): Rice exporters vowed to promote decent working conditions and improve the livelihoods of the small land holder farmers, farm labour and families of rice transplanters in the entire rice value chain during the challenging situation of the COVID19 Pandemic in South Punjab.

“We trained more than 150 families on COVID19 safety measures and also provided them decent working conditions, food packets, shelter/canopy, Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs), first aid boxes, solar system, fans, water coolers, desert coolers and stationery items for their kids in South Punjab”, Chief Operating Officer (CEO) Rice Partners Limited (RPL) a known rice exporters group and philanthropy organization, Muhammad Ali Tariq told APP here on Saturday.

He said the major objective behind this practice was to provide a decent working environment during the rice transplantations to the farm labour.

Under decent work conditions RPL has established mother community centres from 2015 onwards every year with the support of Mars Foods for the children of rice transplanters to avoid their presence at the farm during the rice transplanting seasons and engage them in learning activities while their parents are at work, Muhammad Tariq said.

This year (2020), RPL has established childcare facilities at both farm and community level. He said that younger children below the age of 5 years are taken to the farms along with their elder brother or sister to be looked after when their mother is busy. He said that RPL has been engaged with rice farmers in South Punjab, a potential agriculture region of the country, since 2011.

He said Rice Partners is a social impact business that works with thousands of growers of Basmati in Punjab, Pakistan to provide them with the best growing practices for enhancing their yields and livelihoods. He said around 15000 families are engaged only from district Sheikhupura and more then 100,000 from all over the Southern region.

While talking to APP, Manager Sustainability RPL Mr Zafar Iqbal said that these marginalised families of rice growers, especially women, have their key role for the cultivation of rice which is the main crop for the food security of the entire world.

He said that rice transplanting is carried out from mid-June till the start of August in every year, when the temperature remains between 37 – 45 degrees Celsius, in these regions of rice cultivation. Usually all members of these families take part in the transplanting work, he added.

Zafar said that the children from these families also accompany their parents (mothers) due to several reasons. He added that conditions on the farm are highly hazardous and expose children to several risks of insect bites, injuries and infections, exposure to extreme heat and pesticides without any shelter. For protecting the children from these risks RPL with support of Helvetas Swiss Inter-Cooperation and Swiss Solidarity has provided these children with the moveable backpack canopies covered from all sides to avoid insects and have shelter, along with dry food, insect repellents, and water coolers, he said.

Similarly, for the larger group of families working jointly, a farm level big shelter tent along with solar plates, fans, air cooler, water cooler and first aid boxes were provided to keep the children in a healthy and safe environment at the farm level, he said.

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