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Farm zones along CPEC suggested

June 19, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Agricu­ltural zones along the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) can help earn $12 billion annually by exporting products to a neighbouring country, a leader of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said on Sunday.

China imported agricultural products worth $111bn annually, including $25bn soybean oil and by-products in which Pakistan could get a reasonable share, Atif Ikram Sheikh, chairman of the FPCCI regional committee on industries, said in statement.

“All the provinces should consider establishing agro-economic zones along the CPEC routes to produce high-value agricultural products that can be exported to China, while Chinese investors can also be lured into it,” he said.

He said funds should be allocated for the purpose and guidance should be sought from Punjab which was best suited for it.

Mr Sheikh said such zones should become successful if provision of ample water by harvesting rainfall and other resources was ensured. Moreover, provision of quality seeds, pesticides and urea should also be guaranteed. Proper cold storage and warehousing facilities, olive oil extraction and solar dehydration of vegetables should also be promoted, he said, adding that peanuts, grapes, olive, citrus, mango, tomato, guava, strawberry and potato were some of the items which were in great demand in China.

He said the overall agricultural system should be modernised so that country could start exports of farm products, which, he added, could jump to $15bn in a few years.

He said the share of agriculture in the gross domestic product (GDP) had dropped from 51 per cent to 21pc.

Mr Sheikh demanded that the agriculture insurance system should be improved and the banks should be instructed to finance the communities dependent on agriculture so that they could be saved from the clutches of middlemen.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2017