Horticulture sector: $5bn investment from China, ME likely: ASF

Daily Times (Pakistan) | Thursday, March 12, 2009

By Razi Syed

KARACHI: China and the Middle East countries will invest in horticulture sector of Pakistan to the tune of $5 billion during the current year 2009, an official of Agribusiness Support Fund (ASF) said Wednesday.

“Saudi Arabia and China are interested to acquire land on lease besides to join hands with the private sector stakeholders in order to grow soft crops and vegetables,” Chairman Sindh ASF, Mateen Siddiqui said. China and Middle East will be the key players of investment in horticulture sector as they are interested in rice, wheat and vegetable crops of the country, he added.

He said it was expected that after investment the country could save most of exports of agricultural produce as it was hampered by lack of modern storage facilities. High post harvest losses, insufficient packing and grading and cold storage facilities along with absence of refrigerated transport and containers can be eliminated through foreign investment.

He said due to the most liberal investment policy in the region, Pakistan is most suitable for investors. He said the exporters need a full-fledged packaging house, ripening chambers and blast chillers. He said the government was providing a number of incentives and facilitating measures were being taken for promoting business activities in Pakistan. Most of our economic sectors are open to FDI where the foreign investors can hold 100 percent equity. Safety of investment is assured and Pakistan has signed Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) with many countries worldwide.

A high percentage of horticulture produce is wasted due to ineffective post-harvest practices and around 25-30 percent of total production of fruits and vegetables is wasted due to lack of proper post-harvest handling.

These include the network of industrial estates and export processing zones, economic zones with tax holidays, concessional customs duty on import of plant and machinery and the unrestricted outward remittances of capital, profits, royalty, technical and franchise fees etc. Special Economic Zones have been proposed for set up in different parts of the country. Chief Executive Officer PHDEB, Shamoon Sadiq said Pakistan horticulture sector possesses a great potential for development. However, the growth of the sector is inhibited by a multitude of constraints.

Per hectare yields are very low as compared with international benchmarks. The product is perishable by nature and therefore requires proper handling after harvesting to keep it in good condition till it reaches the consumer and export destinations. He said Ministry of Commerce in consultation with PHDEB, prepared proposals under National Trade Corridor Improvement Programme (NTCIP) for enhancing annual export of fruit and vegetables, and floriculture from existing $160 million to $500 million in the next 5 years. He said Pakistan is successfully involved in biotechnology, tissue culture, cutting of floriculture, and as a result we are now in a position to export flowers to the developed world.
Original source: Daily Times

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