Islamabad: Pakistan has huge potential to enhance the export of agricultural products, but it is essential that the government should provide suitable infrastructure and necessary support to our farmers, growers and traders at par with our competitors.
This was said by Shaban Khalid, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry while exchanging views with a delegation of Islamabad Fruit Merchants Association that visited ICCI led by its President Babu Muhammad Aleem.
He said the private sector is doing what it can to improve the standards of hygiene and packaging of agro products as per global standards and if government comes up with facilitative measures, the country could realize full export potential of its agricultural and horticultural products.
He said the world horticulture market is valued at $80 billion, but Pakistan despite being an agricultural economy has only a marginal share in this huge market because the government has been ignoring this sector for too long.
He said government should take measures for establishing modern cool chains, international standard certification labs, grading and labelling facilities in the country. Workshops should be conducted to apprise farmers of the latest technologies and organized communal facilities for processing and packaging.
Shaban Khalid said Afghanistan, Russia, Central Asian States, Middle East, Europe and many other regions offer enormous opportunities for promoting export of Pakistani fruit products and businessmen should focus on value addition, quality packaging and advanced marketing techniques for getting better penetration in export market.
He said CDA should pay priority attention to resolving Fruits Market problems and facilitate fruit exporters in improving exports for earning more precious foreign exchange for the country.
He said Fruit Market needs more auction platforms due to increase in its size and CDA should ensure early construction of said platforms to ease congestion and facilitate the traders.
Speaking at the occasion, Babu Muhammad Aleem, President and Tahir Ayub, Secretary General of Islamabad Wholesale Fruit Merchants Association highlighted various problems being faced by the local traders.
They said that CDA is earning millions of rupees as entry fee from Fruit Market but paying no attention to resolving its problems. They said size of fruit market has increased manifold and existing buildings are insufficient to cater to its business needs.
CDA should allow construction of additional floors and rationalize fee for such additional storeys.
They said existence of Afghan Basti near Fruit Market is causing law & order problems and called for shifting this Basti to any other suitable place.
They said only seven exporters have been issued license for export of potatoes, which is unjustified and more exporters should be allowed to export this commodity. They said CDA have installed filtration plants, but handed over their operation & maintenance to contractors who have failed to keep them functional.
They demanded that market Union should be authorized to take care of these plants for their proper upkeep and function. They said Islamabad is not an agriculture producing district and constitution of market committee by the District Administration is unjustified.