ISLAMABAD - Rice Partners Pvt Ltd (RPL) along with its other partners always strive to provide good working conditions to ‘Rice Transplanters’ and other farmers connected to this value chain.

The welfare of Rice Transplanters’ family in Pakistan and their health and education issues have always been our priority, Chief Operating Officer, Rice Partners Pvt Ltd (RPL), Muhammad Ali Tariq said while talking to the journalists here.

Chief Operating Officer, RPL said that rice partners private limited (RPL), Fazaldad Human Rights Institute (FHRI) and Lord Sarfraz Foundation (LSF) in collaboration with Mars Food and RVO Netherlands Enterprise Agency implementing a project regarding decent working conditions in rice value chain of Pakistan. He said that RPL and Mars Food, being a member of Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) are committed to ensuring decent working conditions in the rice value chain of Pakistan and making rice a sustainable product.

He said that decent working conditions in the rice value chain are the key component of SRP standards. There should be no child labor, gender equality, women empowerment, equal wages, and safe working environment for rice farm workers particularly for female rice transplanters, he said.

Ali Tariq said that the RPL and FHRI have implemented multiple activities to meet SRP standards and to ensure decent working conditions in the rice value chain of Pakistan. In this regard, access to healthcare for rice farm workers was ensured by implementing free medical camps. He said that in these camps senior government doctors and paramedic staff were hired who provided treatment to rice farm workers both at farm level and village level. In these medical camps, aggregately 8,000 patients were treated and provided free of cost medicine in which half of them were female rice transplanters, he added. COO, RPL said that before implementation of the project, rice transplanter families have to accompany their children along with them at farms where the children have to face weather hardships and different diseases.

FHRI provided the facility of a child care facility for the children of rice transplanters. Approximately, 85 children were enrolled into child care facilities, where these children enjoyed a decent environment free from weather hardships, healthy food, spent time in learning civic education and also participated in curricular and extracurricular activities, he said.

He said that toys, sports items, school bags, stationery and shoes were given to all of the children.

Two community mothers/teachers were hired to take care of the children.

Ali Tariq said there should be improvement in the livelihoods of the rice farm workers as per SRP standards.

Chief Operating Officer, RPL said that rice transplanting is a seasonal activity, female rice transplanters suffer for earning decent livelihood beyond this seasonal activity throughout the year.

He said the FHRI has initiated a Skill Development Programme in which children of rice transplants will be enrolled and learn modern skills e.g. beautician, tailoring, cooking, computer operator and rice plant operator.

He informed that after completion of the courses children will be supported in establishing their small businesses and getting employment so they could bring improvement in the livelihoods of their families.