Invitation to Saudi company to invest in corporate farming pick up pace
By Shahzad Paracha
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan looks to fast track the invitation process for corporate farming, especially to Saudi companies to invest in the country’s agriculture sector.
Sources revealed that the Special Investment Facilitation Center (SIFC) has asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for an update on the invitation sent to Al Marai of Saudi Arabia to invest in farming in Pakistan.
Almarai Company is a Saudi multinational dairy company which is listed on the Tadawul stock exchange, which is the principal securities exchange of Saudi Arabia. The company boasts a massive 65% market share in the dairy industry. It also specializes in food and beverage manufacturing and distribution. It is a market leader in its domain in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait.
Al Marai currently boasts large scores of farmlands in Argentina and the United States. Earlier this year, Al Marai was caught in a controversy as their farming of alfalfa hay was seen as a reason for water drought in Arizona, US, as reported by the Washington Post.
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research has prepared short and medium term plans to bolster the agriculture sector.
Under the short term plans, the Ministry of NFS&R will prepare Terms of Reference (TORs) for legal experts with regard to legislation for corporate, small holder and contract farming.
Similarly, the government also has a plan to streamline the seed certification process to reduce the time required for certification.
The government is also considering delisting dormant and underperforming seed companies. The use of the Land Information and Management System (LIMS) office for the quantification of the impact of LIMS is also on the cards.
Under the medium term, the government also has a plan to develop in-house quarantine facilities with detailed track-and-trace systems to facilitate export-oriented, agriculture-specific Special Economic Zones (SEZ) /Export Processing Zones, as reported previously by Profit.
Sources said that the Ministry of NFSR has also briefed the invitees about the farming potential on 50,000 acres in Cholistan. They have also included the intentions of establishing corporate dairy, feedlot and camel farms in the letter of intent. A food processing zone at Daraban, D.I Khan by Enertech Holding Company, is also in the relayed plans.
The government is also working to develop an irrigation network for water availability in the Cholistan area to cater to proposed corporate farming investment projects.
In a recent meeting, Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Sindh have also updated the SIFC about the cooperative farming models as well as horticulture, vegetation and development of essential infrastructure in the suburbs of Karachi.