Monday June 17, 2024

Corporate farming by defence forces gets a jumpstart

PM Shehbaz, Gen Asim to inaugurate country’s first corporate farm today

By Munawar Hasan
July 24, 2023
Corporate farming by defence forces gets a jumpstart. -The News/file
Corporate farming by defence forces gets a jumpstart. -The News/file

KHANEWAL: The cutting-edge corporate agriculture farming Sunday got a jumpstart by the defence forces in a multi-billion dollar move, aiming to ensure national food security and tapping the export market.

“We launched a modern corporate farming project to take Pakistan’s agriculture to new height. Our main focus area has been import-substitution farming so that domestic production can eventually replace billions of dollar worth of imports,” said Maj Gen (Retd) Tahir Aslam, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FonGrow, a subsidiary of Fauji Foundation, which is spearheaded by defence institutions.

Aslam termed FonGrow a harbinger of completely mechanised, smart farming in the country as part of a flagship project of Green Pakistan Initiative, recently launched under the auspices of Pakistan Army at a function attended by the prime minister and Chief of the Army Staff.

He was talking to Lahore-based journalists during a media visit to the 2,250-acre site of country’s first corporate farm on Sunday, which is scheduled to be formally inaugurated by prime minister and Army Chief today (Monday).

Tahir said FonGrow was devolving a model that could be replicated by foreign investors at a later stage.

“We strive to expand corporate farms to 100,000 acres for cultivating wheat, cotton, oilseed crops, soybean and sesame in different districts of the country. The Green Initiative eyes corporate farming at one million acres of land by fostering partnership with various foreign and local players,” he added.

“We have set up this platform on the premise to achieve goal of reducing foreign dependency through enhanced local production. Our first trial of maize crop has yielded 20 percent more output than output of progressive farmers and that too with lesser use of water, fertiliser and other inputs.

“The establishment of FonGrow farm is truly the first step towards agricultural revolution. This is a one-of-a-kind agricultural system spread over 2,250 acres at Porowal which is planned to be expanded under a robust development plan in the next five years. It consists of mostly barren piece of land,” he said.

To a question, he made it clear that they were not against or competing with small-scale farmers. Rather, he claimed, this initiative would help introduce best farming practices at different levels.

Muhammad Zahid Aziz, Manager Farms, said the country’s agriculture needs to be expanded both horizontally and vertically with a view to increasing area under cultivation and enhancing per acre yield.

FonGrow is simultaneously targeting both these goals by employing resource conservation technology.

He said similar corporate farming in desert and semi-desert land in Bhakkar, Mankera and Layyah was also being launched.

Eng Mushtaq Ahmed Gill, Irrigation Consultant, said high efficiency agriculture had been the hallmark of FonGrow corporate farming where the center pivot irrigation made it possible to conserve water up to 90 percent.

It is sheer departure from conventional flood irrigation where most of water is lost before reaching the plants.