ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Uzbekistan for agriculture research and technology transfers that will allow for improved cotton production in the country.
The understanding was reached during a meeting Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehbub Sultan with Uzbekistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Furqat Sidiqov.
Exchange of students will also be a major part of the upcoming MoU between the two countries.
During the meeting, the Uzbek envoy proposed centralisation of Uzbek cotton imports via the Torkham border with a view to do away with ‘shadow economy’.
Ambassador Sidiqov said Uzbekistan still has 100,000 tonnes of cotton stocks which could be exported to Pakistan.
Uzbekistan also has the capacity to make its own cotton seeds and could develop special seeds for Pakistan which are resistant to pest attacks, he said.
The Uzbek ambassador informed the minister that a proposal for a 700km long railway line is in the process which will pass through Uzbakistan, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In order to boost trade, a trilateral commission was also proposed by the Uzbek side and if materialised it will be beneficial for the landlocked countries and help save time and money.
He said that Samarkand and Bukhara are unique agriculture centres where cotton clusters were set up for the small farmers. The ambassador said this model could be replicated in Pakistan. He further talked about the Uzbekistan cotton picking tool and ten tractors that were working in Pakistan on trial basis.
The minister on the occasion said that Pakistan could import cotton seeds from Uzbekistan which were resistant to various diseases.
He further welcomed the proposal regarding assistance to Pakistan’s fisheries sector.
The ambassador said his country imported five million tonnes of sugar and could resort to Pakistan. The minister apprised that Pakistan had 1.8m tonnes of surplus sugar. Similarly, Pakistan could also export dairy and meat and find a new market in the region, he added.
Pakistan imports vegetables and fruit worth of $70 million from Uzbekistan and Pakistan exports sugar, potatoes and citrus fruit and other worth of $60 million to Uzbekistan. Pakistan is second biggest trade partner of Uzbekistan in the Central Asian region after Russia.
Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2018