The agricultural sector in Pakistan is vital for the country’s economy, particularly due to the cultivation of water-intensive crops like cotton and rice. Pakistan is among the top 10 exporting countries for these products globally. However, Pakistan faces significant challenges related to water scarcity and inefficient water usage in agriculture, leading to water stress across the nation. Additionally, climate change, exacerbated by human activities, further strains water resources and requires urgent measures to adapt to the country’s food production requirements.
To address the sustainability and efficiency issues in rice cultivation, the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) was developed as the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard specifically for rice farming. In Pakistan, the SRP standards were introduced through the Water Productivity in Rice (WAPRO) project that focuses on rice production by employing water-efficient and sustainable agronomic techniques. Multiple rice export companies in Pakistan have now aligned themselves with these SRP standards. To further progress, the Sustainable Rice Platform Secretariat, Helvetas, and the Pakistan Basmati Heritage Foundation have agreed to collaborate systematically by establishing SRP national chapter. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Helvetas Swiss Inter cooperation, in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan, co-financed the establishment of the national chapter.
Fairtrade NAPP, along with a representative from 3 Fairtrade Rice Small Producer Organizations (SPOs), actively participated in the SRP National Chapter workshop to emphasize our commitment to sustainable rice production. Since our SPOs were already part of the consortium associated with the Sustainable Rice Platform, their involvement in the national chapter has been seen as a natural progression.
During the consultative workshop on Rice sustainability, various topics related to marketing and other relevant issues were extensively discussed. The objective was to address the challenges faced by rice producers in meeting the strict standards set by both the SRP and Fairtrade. It was acknowledged that managing compliance with both sets of standards simultaneously posed difficulties for common producers. As a result, the workshop focused on finding ways to mitigate these challenges and identify opportunities for mutual benefit.
The workshop played a crucial role in strengthening the SRP consortium and fostering collaboration with Fairtrade NAPP rice producers. By coming together and sharing experiences, insights, and best practices, the participants aimed to enhance the overall sustainability and quality of rice production in Pakistan. Additionally, discussions centred around aligning the requirements and processes of the SRP and Fairtrade certifications to streamline the efforts of producers and facilitate their adherence to both standards.
The mutual collaboration between the SRP and Fairtrade NAPP demonstrated a shared vision for sustainable rice production and the promotion of fairer trade practices. By working together, these organizations sought to create an enabling environment where producers could navigate the complexities of meeting multiple standards while reaping the benefits associated with both certifications. The workshop provided a platform for open dialogue, exchange of ideas, and the establishment of strategies to ensure that producers could effectively implement sustainable and fair practices in their rice cultivation.
The participation of Fairtrade NAPP and our producers in the SRP National Chapter for Pakistan showcased our dedication to sustainable rice production and our commitment to supporting farmers in overcoming challenges while striving for excellence in both environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
“As a member, I strongly believe that such collaborative forums have vital importance in the sustainability of rice production in Pakistan and it should be strengthened in future.”
-Abdul Majeed Chaudry, Hope farmers Association.
“Sustainable rice platform is transforming the global rice sector for a healthy inclusive and sustainable future.”
-Hafiz Muhammad Ismaeel, Atlas Foods.