KARACHI (APP) - Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal said Monday that rice exporters have agreed to buy moisture free IRRI-6 rice crop at the support price of about Rs 600 per maund. He was responding to the queries of the media after chairing a meeting with the office bearers and members Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP). The minister, however, said that the moisture element may slightly reduce the procurement price, but it will not be less than Rs 570 to Rs 585 per maund depending on the level of moisture in rice. Regarding basmati rice, Gondal said that the demands of rice exporters were genuine and he will try to arrange an urgent meeting of rice exporters with the Finance Minister in Islamabad on Tuesday to resolve this issue. He said that rice exporters seeking concessionary financing including export finance credit so that they can start the purchase of basmati rice from growers two months in advance at the prescribed (support price) of Rs 1,250 per maund. He said that the exporters wanted a lower mark up rate and an extension in the time period for repayment so that they can be competitive in the international market. The minister said that rice prices have fallen in the international market and this is the reason why the government did not enhance support price of basmati rice to Rs 1500 per maund. He pointed out that PASSCO will start procurement of rice in Punjab from Tuesday. Our main purpose is to protect the farmers at every cost, because if they do not get a fair price this year, they will not grow rice next year. Gondal said that farmers have to be encouraged to get bumper crops. The contribution of agriculture sector to the GDP was 4.7 percent last year, he added. He said that REAP has also agreed to generously fund the research and development activities to get high yielding varieties to get better rice acreage. Earlier, rice exporters suggested the minister to instruct banks to provide credit to exporters for rice procurement at concessionary rates. Similarly, banks must enhance time period from 180 days to 270 days as in the case of carpets, they added. They said that liquidity crunch was creating problems in rice procurement. They said that banks were not enhancing credit limits for rice procurement.