THE first ever agro export processing zone located near Sabzi Mandi on the Super Highway has achieved an important milestone with the completion of infrastructure such as roads, water, sewerage, electricity, and administrative buildings including a conference hall.
Construction of service facilities including cold storages, grading and sorting and packing units and a PIA cargo terminal, has started and is expected to be completed by next mango season.
According to provincial agricultural department, the agro zone will be inaugurated by the Sindh chief minister before Ramazan. It is a public private partnership enterprise.
Plots have been allotted to the growers, exporters and processors who have started construction.
Export of fruits and vegetable from the zone will start from next mango season.
The Sindh government has provided Rs104 million for development of zone’s infrastructure while the private sector has contributed Rs200 million.
An important facility of the zone will be a vapour heat treatment plant to be installed by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan to promote export of fruits and vegetables to high value markets such as Japan and US. A memorandum of understanding for the plant would be signed shortly with the TDAP.
Of the 47 allottees of lands in the zone, 70 per cent are growers and 30 per cent exporters, who would coordinate efforts to boost export of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as tinned juices and vegetables which have great demand in international market. Space has also been provided to importers of certain dry vegetables like (Adrak and Lahsan) etc who would re-export them after value addition.
The agro export zone, first initiated in 2002, became victim of bureaucratic bottlenecks and encroachment by land mafia. The project, however, has made rapid over the past eight months after it was turned into a public private partnership (PPP) enterprise.
The joint venture team is being led by Abrar Sheikh of agricultural department and Khalid Ejaz, a leading exporter.
Currently, about 30 to 40 per cent fresh fruits and vegetables are wasted every year due to lack of processing, packaging and storage facilities.
The PIA cargo terminal would enable exporters to make timely shipment from the zone and they would not need to go to the airport.
Facilities, to be provided, include three cold storages, 36 processing units, five ice factories, and five plots for grading and sorting of exportable green stuff.
Secretary Agriculture Ejaz Ali Khan said that to ensure smooth functioning of the agro export zone, the government plans to register the zone with Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) as a private limited company to be run by professional management.
The creation of an agro export processing zone in Sindh has triggered interest in Punjab for setting up a similar zone and the authorities in Lahore have contacted the Sindh government for guidance.
Chairman, convener committee, Khalid Ejaz says export of fruits and vegetables from the zone will start from the next season.
He said that the zone will bring processing facilities for exports scattered in different areas under one roof which would greatly cut shipment time, a pre-requisite for export of green stuff.
The Sindh agriculture department had organised an international mango festival in Dubai last month. The show held at Carrefour, Maya and Lulu supermarkets in Dubai and Sharjah helped secure export orders for mango.