MoU signed between Matco Foods and Oxfam to improve socioeconomic conditions of rice growers

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on June 14 between Matco Foods, Pakistan’s largest Basmati rice exporter, Oxfam in Pakistan and Doaba Foundation pledging to improve the socioeconomic 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 Programme Director Ms. Javeria Afzal and Senior Programme 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.

About Matco Foods: Matco has over 50 years of experience in the rice industry and has a global portfolio of more than 150 corporate customers and exports to over 60 countries world-wide. It is the only agro processing company of Pakistan in which the International Finance Corporation (lFC) (World Bank Group) has invested equity. The company’s flagship brand “Falak” Basmati rice is exported to over 40 countries around the world and is Pakistan’s largest selling global brand.

About Oxfam in Pakistan: Oxfam has been working in Pakistan since 1973. We work with local groups, organizations and government to improve the life and livelihoods of people living in poverty and social exclusion. We also work to provide humanitarian assistance and promote a safe environment for people affected by disasters.

We focus on ensuring poor women’s access to land and economic opportunities; ending violence against women and girls; ensuring people’s food security and access to essential services; increasing communities’ resilience to disasters and climate change. We work with local civil society to promote social justice, equal rights for all and responsive governance.

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