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Horticulture company revived to boost exports

Updated July 03, 2018


In this file photo, a farmer tends to his gladiolus flower crop in Swat.
In this file photo, a farmer tends to his gladiolus flower crop in Swat.

ISLAMABAD: The Commerce Division has revived Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC) and appointed its chief executive officer to promote horticulture exports.

The division on the request of the board of directors appointed Director General Trade Policy Muhammad Ashraf as the acting CEO of PHDEC, said an official statement issued on Monday.

The company head office was moved from Lahore and inaugurated here on Monday by Secretary Commerce Younus Dagha. FPCCI President Ghazanfar Bilour, PHDEC Chairman Fuad Ishaq, senior officers of the Ministry of Commerce and members of board of directors of the company were present on the occasion.

PHDEC is a public sector organisation established by the Ministry of Commerce as Pakistan Horticulture Development Board in 2003, later converted into a Section-42 company in 2009. Due to several administrative and financial constraints, the company’s performance gradually deteriorated and there was serious consideration of its closure in 2015.

In the year 2017, a need analysis of PHDEC was conducted as an organisation before taking the final decision on the future of the organisation. Afterwards the company’s licence, which was cancelled by the SECP in 2015 due to non-compliance, has been restored.

Also the external audit of accounts for the last many years has been conducted and the memorandum of association of the company has been up-dated.

Moreover, the human resource has been right-sized, a stock taking of company’s projects has been completed, the human resource policies and procedures have been developed and the office of the company has been shifted from a residential building in Lahore to a corporate environment in the capital.

It was emerged that there was nothing wrong with the company’s institutional rationale; the cause of its poor performance was gross mismanagement and lack of financial sustainability.

The commerce ministry, therefore, decided to revitalise and restructure the organisation by correcting its administrative malaise and providing a viable financial stream rather than closing it.

Since then, the company has been reformed and restructured drastically. The administrative malaise was addressed by removing the politically-appointed CEO, reconstituting the board of directors and purging the organisation of non-performing politically appointed personnel. The financial sustainability has been assured by creation of an endowment fund.

Addressing the board members, the commerce secretary said that since the company’s major administrative issues have been addressed, the company should now focus on a comprehensive work plan for its operations related to export development and promotion, for which the administrative restructuring is only a means. “I would like to underline that the ministry’s vision for the PHDEC is to make it a model sector-specific business support organisation in the public sector, which can be replicated for other sectors also”, he said.

Acting CEO Muhammad Ashraf made a presentation on the work plan of the company for the coming year. He said that the company plans to organisation participation of horticulture exporters in the international trade fairs, arrange visits of delegations to the target markets, invite foreign buyers to visit Pakistan and commission a market study of potential of horticulture under CPEC.

For supply chain development the company will be focusing on eradication of canker from citrus fields in collaboration with the provincial governments, certification of farms and processing facilities and development of a farmers’ market on M2 Motorway as a pilot project.

The pre-feasibility studies of the value-added products of horticulture will be conducted and made available to the potential investors, along with a bankable feasibility of a capital intensive industry.

The secretary commerce appreciated the work plan and advised the company to develop a National Horticulture Export Strategy which, inter alia, included an added emphasis on development of floriculture sub-sector besides the fruits and vegetables, added the announcement.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018