KARACHI: Chairman Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Standing Committee on Horticulture & Agriculture Produce Ahmad Jawad on Wednesday hoped that the upcoming budget will introduce measures for the development of farmer community to ensure sustainable development of agriculture sector.
He said Pakistan’s agriculture products’ export is continuously showing a declining trend because the international price of major farm products ie rice, wheat and sugar and cotton are lower compared to Pakistan where cost of inputs are on higher side due to heavy taxation.
According to statistics, export of rice recorded 3,009,574 MT at a total value of $1.57 billion during July-March 2014-15 against 2,970,319 MT and value of $1.667 billion during the same period of 2013-14, showing a negative growth of 5.8 per cent.
Even Pakistan is surplus in wheat, its export is negligible. During the first nine months of current fiscal year, Pakistan exported only 6,408 MT at a value of $1.67 million against 20,037 MT valued at $7 million showing a decline of 76 per cent
Similarly export of sugar stood at 354,111 MT during this period at a value of $208 million whereas 538,001 MT sugar was exported against total value of $236.7 million in 2013-14.
Jawad said Policy makers may look into country agriculture with its allied sectors as a engine of growth, where a lot of potential opportunities are there as for as concern for export point of view, subject if we pursue accordingly in the upcoming budget.
Over the last decade and more, it has been the backbone of our economy, especially the consumer economy. Across the border, our neighbor had allocated Indian Rs 37 billion to support the farmer and the agriculture sector, a figure now in excess of 50 billion.
We need to understand that economic renaissance in Pakistan is totally dependent on agriculture growth and as such Pakistan urgently needs an agricultural infrastructure to improve the balance of trade and put the economy back on the track.
Still Pakistan horticulture sector which will term to be a golden basket for the economy is contributed only 0.3% in global exports due to lack of infrastructure and R&D issues.
Even Balochistan annually produces more than a million tons of various varieties of fruits, 90 percent grapes, cherry, and almonds; 60 percent peach, pomegranate, and apricot; 34 percent apples. The province is the fifth largest producer of dates with an estimated production volume of 583,000 tons but, again, its exports suffer because of non-availability of infrastructure which may be tapped on priority; he added.
Jawad suggested that Finance Ministry should allocate at least Rs 15 billion to this sector for the infrastructure in the upcoming budget for the establishment of Controlled Atmosphere (CA) stores, food parks, testing labs & conduct local trainings to curtail pre and post harvest losses & proper rooms for wheat storages at production hubs for exports through public private partnerships (PPP mode).
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