Wednesday September 27, 2023

Australia to support production of pulses in Pakistan

By Our Correspondent
May 28, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Australian governments on Monday signed an agreement to promote research and development and production of pulses under a half a billion dollars project.

Secretary Noor Ahmed of Economic Affairs Division and Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson signed the memorandum of subsidiary arrangement for developing competitive and inclusive value chain of pulses in Pakistan to support development of socially inclusive and competitive value chains of chickpeas, lentils and mung beans in Punjab and Sindh, with spillover effects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The project will be implemented over a period of three years till June 2021.

From Australian side, University of Tasmania while from Pakistani side, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, University of Agricultural, Faisalabad, Comsats Institute of Technology and Sindh Agriculture University of Pakistan will be the implementing agencies of the project.

“Contributions from the government of Australia will be A$478,825 and Pakistan will contribute in kind at an estimated value of A$158,171,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

Pulses industry infrastructure in Pakistan remains underdeveloped. The country spends more than half a billion dollars every year on imports of pulses (leguminous vegetables). In July-April, imports of pulses amounted to $432.546 million, down 2.3 percent over the corresponding period a year earlier. In terms of quantity, imports however rose around 30 percent to 801,843 tons during the period under review.

Pakistan is presently among the top ten importers in the world of each of the US-grown cool season pulses, including chickpeas, lentils, and dry peas.

The government recently proposed investment in pulses-related research and extension, along with new pulses production projects. The latest project would identify and analyse barriers, opportunities and options for developing inclusive competitive pulses value chain, strengthen capacities of industry stakeholders.

“Improvement of pulses value chain will support Pakistan government’s agriculture development vision and policies and complement ongoing pulses projects in Pakistan,” the finance ministry said in the statement.

Industry officials said changing climate started affecting domestic gram production, leading to a back-to-back less-than-demand production and a slump in the output of other pulses, opening an expanding window of imports from Australia.

A pulse trader said the gram (desi chana) crop has been badly affected for the last couple of years mainly due to drought conditions in the main growing area of Thal desert.

“The major chunk of the gram crop is solely dependent on rainfall for meeting irrigation needs. However, rain pattern has visibly changed in the main growing area.”