’Agriculture has direct and indirect role in economic growth’

LAHORE: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Chairman Standing Commitee on Horticulture & Agri Produce Ahmad Jawad said that agriculture has direct and indirect role in generating economic growth.

While addressing the workshop here on Wednesday, he said, “This sector provides food to consumers and fibres for domestic industry, and it is a source of scarce foreign exchange earnings. It also provides a market for industrial goods.”

He said now leadership of FPCCI also gives more importance and preference to agriculture and livestock sectors along with the industries. These sectors can strengthen the economy of Pakistan.

Pakistan, once dubbed as a ‘great bread basket’, is now struggling due to these factors, and has increasingly been becoming an importer of a large number of agri-commodities.

At the same time, Pakistan’s agricultural sector also faces larger post-harvest losses of 40%, when compared with the global benchmark, he said.

Jawad demanded of the government to formulate horticulture export policy on the pattern of textile policy in consultation with all stakeholders. Moreover, government should allocate funds for promoting hybrid seed industry in Pakistan and establishment of modern slaughter houses under private-public partnership, he added.

Unfolding details of the budget recommendations to the federal finance ministry for incorporating them in the 2015-16 budget, he said that these include setting up of different projects under private-public partnerships including cool chain infrastructure for the horticulture sector, food processing and value addition industry, agro-processing industry and accredited testing laboratories at horticulture production hubs to ensure availablity of good quality produce for exports.

He said that the government should also identify new export markets and sign protocols and agreements to remove bottlenecks for enhancing exports, besides a loan scheme for rural youths for promoting agriculture services should be introduced.

He also demanded that funds should also be allocated for Crop Insurance Scheme (CIS) for farmers of the areas affected by natural disasters, wide-spread diseases and unpredictable weather conditions. He also urged the government to allow duty-free import of European refurbished agriculture machinery.

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