Pakistan, China to launch 13 mega projects in agri sector

September 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Government is mulling 13 mega projects in agriculture sector across the country in collaboration with China, while it has also sought technical assistance from New Zealand to improve...

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ISLAMABAD: Government is mulling 13 mega projects in agriculture sector across the country in collaboration with China, while it has also sought technical assistance from New Zealand to improve dairy production and value addition, food minister said on Monday.

“The government is resolved to uplift the agriculture sector and is going to launch 13 mega projects across the country and the technical cooperation with China would help us in the field,” Minister for National Food Security and Research Mehboob Sultan said talking to a delegation of China Machinery Engineering Cooperation (CMEC). The food ministry is processing a memorandum of understanding between Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and CMEC.

“Due to the lack of requisite technology we are lagging behind in value addition and processing hence the joint venture in this regard and adaption of best practices from China in the field of agriculture would help tap our agro resources/commodities in a befitting manner,” Sultan said in an official statement.

“Under CPEC both Pakistan and China have gone beyond the traditional level of cooperation from assistance in crop farming, cattle farming, mechanisation to food storage and export. This assistance will be mutually beneficial and bring two countries closer.”

The delegation said the CMEC is eagerly looking forth to extensively collaborate through Pak-China modern agriculture comprehensive development project and under the project China would assist in the field through technical and financial support. This will help in poverty alleviation in the country.

The delegation said Pakistan has best environment, water reservoirs and abundant labour, which could be exploited to get maximum agriculture output.

The delegation said the CMEC has expertise in waste land reclamation, high tech, deep processing and trading. They presented their long time plans for halal meat market, enhancing cotton production and improving access to Chinese and Middle East market.

Meanwhile, food minister said the country is the world’s fifth largest milk producer and annually produces 60 million metric tons, while only 6 percent could be processed.

“New Zealand has very strong dairy sector farming along with processing and value addition and Pakistan would welcome any substantial cooperation in the field from production to value addition,” Sultan said talking to the newly-appointed High Commissioner of New Zealand to Pakistan Hamish MacMaster.

The minister said cow fattening and enhanced meat production is one of the programs of Prime Minister’s Agriculture Emergency Project and “we are looking forward to get technical assistance –machinery, technology and equipment from New Zealand”.

“We are looking forward to benefit from the agro scientists after getting equipped with modern agricultural techniques and could contribute greatly,” he said in an official statement.

The country exports hides and skins of buffalo/cow to New Zealand, which brought Rs7.9 million in 2017/18, while its agro-imports consist of animal feed , feed premixes, animal products (bovine semen, edible offal, tallow) dairy products and sheep skin. Veterinary health protocol for import of dairy cattle to Pakistan has already been harmonised.

The minister said ease of regulations might also be negotiated for the enhancement of bilateral trade, as the current volume of trade between the two countries does not reflect the potential agro-products. “This may also be negotiated for mutual benefits.”

Sultan further said the country is desirous of expanding its mango market. It is already exporting mangoes to 48 countries, including Australia due to its unique taste and aroma. “We are hoping that New Zealand will consider importing mangoes from Pakistan along with other fruit and vegetables like dates, citrus, guava, onion and potato.”

Food minister said the country produces exceptional quality apple and cherry and “it will welcome New Zealand’s offer for assistance for joint venture in Pakistan for the processing/value addition of apple”.

MacMaster said this was his first visit to any ministry after taking office that shows how much importance New Zealand gives to agricultural cooperation between the two countries. He assured the minister of his role in facilitating and enhancing the agro trade between the two countries. The envoy expressed his gratitude for speedy processing of pea seed consignment to Pakistan.

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