A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Matco Foods, Pakistan’s largest Basmati rice exporter, Oxfam in Pakistan and Doaba Foundation pledging to improve the socio-economic conditions of rice growers in Pakistan. The MoU was signed in a ceremony organized at the Matco Foods factory in Sadhoke and was attended by the senior management of the three organizations.
Under the project called ‘Towards a Gender Transformative and Sustainable Basmati Rice Value Chain in Pakistan’: Matco and Oxfam aim to work with rice growers and workers in 10 villages in Punjab as a pilot project. The overall objectives of the project is “Empowered and organized women and men rice growers and workers in Punjab, Pakistan achieving better prices for their sustainably produced rice, earning a higher income, and lobbying for improved working conditions”.
Expressing his views on the occasion, Faizan Ghori, Director, Matco Foods said, “As a responsible corporate citizen, Matco is delighted to partner with Oxfam to help improve the livelihood of farmers in the Basmati rice growing areas of Pakistan. We believe this initiative has both a social and commercial impact. Greater productivity and sustainable production of rice will help farmers and also strengthen Matco’s supply chain.”
Oxfam’s Program Director Ms. Javeria Afzal and Senior Program Manager Mr. Qaisar Arafat were present at the signing ceremony. Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, Ms Javeria Afzal noted that rice growers in Pakistan have limited opportunities for learning improved farming practices such as integrated pest management, alternatives to chemical fertilizers and water management. Moreover, Ms Afzal said a lack of understanding of market dynamics means many growers are unable to get a fair price for their produce. “Rice growers, most of whom are women in children working for low wages, are among some of the most vulnerable and marginalized in the rice industry,” she said.
The goal of the collaboration is to fight poverty and improve food security by implementing a joint development project. Matco Foods has shown willingness to develop partnership and collaboration on rice value chain work in Pakistan. Under the Rice value chain project in Muridke, Sheikhupura district, Matco Foods will support in providing technical support on sustainable rice production practices and improve knowledge and agricultural practices at field level.