Karachi : Former Governor State Bank and Dean and Director Institute of Business Administration Karachi Ishrat Hussain said that despite limited resources after independence, the performance of agriculture sector of Pakistan was impressive as the country emerged as one of the top exporter of agricultural products in the world.
He speaking to the audience at a conference organized by Dawn Media Group under the title Agricultural Competitiveness through Value Addition at Expo Centre Karachi on Saturday. Several national and international dignitaries including Secretary Ministry of Commerce Zafar Mehmood, Representative United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)Dr Ali Abbas Qazilbash, International Expert in Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues Dr Ian Goulding, International Expert in Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) Kit Chan and several other guests were present on this occasion.
Dr Ishrat Hussain said that despite all hurdles and limited resources, Pakistan remains the third largest exporter of rice, fifth largest of cotton while it was the 5th largest producer of milk in the world. He added that Pakistan was self-sufficient in sugarcane. He said that the wheat production has increased ten times as at the time of independence; it was 2.4 million ton which now stands at 24 million ton.
He pointed out that that the population of Pakistan was 30 million at the time of independence, which has risen to 180 million which has caused difficulties in the sector. He said that land owners breach the canals therefore the tail enders do not get any water at all, adding that the farmers were not getting enough returns therefore the people were moving to urban centers.
Former Governor State Bank said that a need existed for more investments like Macro and Metro as it was beneficial for both the farmers and the consumers. He said that a lot of opportunities still existed in the agriculture sector of Pakistan, adding that the Halal food market, primarily for Pakistanis living abroad, was a big sector which needed investment. He said that the food safety mechanism of Pakistan needed improvement.
He further said that Pakistan needed more reservoirs for water as the glaciers were melting at a rapid pace due to climate changes as most of Pakistan agriculture sector depended on reserved water and very little on rain water.
On this occasion, Secretary Ministry of Commerce Zafar Mehmood said that Pakistan failed to take the agriculture sector to the next level as primitive Tapedaar system still prevailed throughout rural region the country. He said that the value addition in agriculture sector was neglected, adding that a lot of money was being spent on research which, according to him, should have been the responsibility of private companies while the government s role should have been of the supervisor and facilitator.
He advised the exporters to look after the requirements of a particularly country as different countries have different rules and regulations particularly regarding food safety issues. Quoting an example, he said that when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Japan gave Pakistan a Vapor Treatment Plant to treat mangoes as it was interested in importing them but despite passage of several years, Pakistan still cannot export mangoes to Japan due to sheer negligence.
He further said that Pakistan was attempting to normalize trade with India while the local investors and exporters needed to study Indian market as its requirement were different. He added that a $700 billion dollar industry existed in Halal foods which needed consideration.
Chief Executive Officer Engro Foods Limited Afnan Ahsan while criticizing different policies of the government said that according to international standards 11 liters of milk should be achieved by each cow per day while the average in Pakistan was only 4 to 5 liter. He said that we needed to be competitive in international market as prices of Pakistani products were higher than its rivals. He stressed on the point that more attention would have to be given in bringing the prices down so that the local consumers could benefit while the exporters would also be more competitive in the international market.
International Expert in Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues Dr Ian Goulding, Representative United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)Dr Ali Abbas Qazilbash, International Expert in Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) Kit Chan, Director Commercial DHL Global Forwarding Pakistan Inam Ullah Ashraf and several other speakers also spoke on the occasion.