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International Co-operation in the Agriculture Sector

About 29 percent of Pakistan's total land area is cultivated. Agriculture and related activities, including fishing, engage 48.4 percent of the workforce and provide 24.5 percent of the GDP.

Chief cash crops are cotton (textile yarn and fabrics produce more than one-half of export earnings) and rice.

Principal crops in 2002 included sugarcane, 52.1 million tons; wheat, 19.2 million tons; rice, 4.5 million tons; cotton lint, 10.2 million bales; and maize, 1.7 million tons.

Livestock included cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and poultry. Fishing resources, although underdeveloped, are extensive.

Types of fish caught include sardines, sharks, and anchovies; shrimp are also an important part of the industry.

Most of the land in Pakistan is arid and requires adequate supply of water. Pakistan has one of the most extensive canal-based irrigation systems in the world.

However, Pakistan has a wide range of agro-climatic zones where all kinds of crops, fruits, vegetable and food can be produced. During the past decades, the Government also developed favourable credit and loan policies for farmers.

We have seen an impressive improvement in the number of tractors and other machines in the sector.

Improved mechanisation gave a boost to agricultural productivity. It has resulted in self-sufficiency in various crops and Government of Pakistan has laid considerable emphasis on the growth of this sector.

In the international co-operation arena, Pakistan has good relations with several international agencies including International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, JICA, ICIMOD, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Centre for Coarse Grains, Pulses, Roots and Tubers (CGPRT), Centre for Maize and Wheat Development (CYMMIT), ICARDA, IRRI, and many more.

This co-operation spans over several areas. The relations with Bilateral and Multilateral agencies including collaboration research programmes, training of scientists and experts, exchange of research information, international seminars, projects, workshops and symposia have provided impetus to the efforts of Government in this regard.

Overall international co-operation also includes excellent relations with individual friendly countries as well as regional forums like SAARC, OIC and ECO.

In the. recent years we have seen thawing up of international relations with very positive trends being seen in the case of our major donors Japan and the United States. Resumption of Japanese Grant for Pakistan is indeed a healthy sign.

Recently, US Deputy Secretary of State for Agriculture visited Pakistan and expressed the resolve of his government to assist Pakistan in the field of agriculture in several major areas.

Under a recent development, British Commonwealth has restored membership of Pakistan and co-operation in the field of agriculture, exchange of know how, and interaction of scientists will grow.

China has been an old ally and friend of Pakistan. Main co-operation with China in the agriculture sector is being- undertaken within the purview of 16thProtocol on Scientific and Technical Co-operation between Pakistan and China.

Main thrust of the 16th Protocol is on exchange of research, exchange of germplasm, agricultural mechanisation and training activities.

It is hoped that these gestures will open up new vistas of international co-operation in agriculture sector to the country.

Pakistan has very active linkages with FAO, WFP, UNDP, JICA and other international donor agencies.

A list of important meetings being regularly attended by Pakistan is annexed. Pakistan Agricultural Research Council is operating an extensive network of its research facilities which have resulted in development of several new crop breeds, new technologies, and identification of potential threats for crops.

A large number of scientists working in the PARC and the research network under its umbrella have received training abroad and are utilising the skills gained in their respective fields.

PARC also offers training opportunities to experts from foreign countries. International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) is one of the core organisations in the CGIAR System. Based in Syria, ICARDA operates several regional and country offices for its extensive research in arid zones.

Presently ICARDA is engaged in Barani Area Development Project in the Punjab province. An - agreement regarding establishment of ICARDA Country Office is being finalised and it is expected that it willprovide vigour to the essentially needed research in the extensive arid areas of Pakistan. Besides, it is likely to result in increased funding from bilateral and multilateral donors in addition to access to germplasm from other sources.

Asian Development Bank is presently funding Agriculture Sector Programme and Agribusiness Development Project for small farmers and institutional development. It is also supporting a Project Preparatory Technical .Assistance study for Agribusiness Development Project.

The report by the 'international consultants is expected to be finalised shortly which will be followed by the Agribusiness Development Project expected to be launched in the next fiscal year.

During the PPTA, the participation of all stake holders have ensured and a number of workshops and meetings have been held all over Pakistan.

Amongst the institutional development strategies, agri business development co-ordination, improved public/ private sector partnerships, agribusiness policy formulation, horticulture policy formulation, agribusiness capacity building and private sector led research and extension are significant.

The project aims at development of cold storage and cool chain distribution, market intelligence and market information, grading and quality standards, market infrastructure and market facilities, and local processing industry. Amongst the horticulture development efforts, the project aims at vegetable seed production and certification, fruit tree nursery regulation, training of farmers, high quality producer group formation, seasonal credit to vegetables farmers, organisation of flower marketing and immediate post harvest facilities, flower bulb production, and onion storage facilities.

Under the project livestock and dairy development is aimed through fattening of animals and improvement of slaughterhouses, propagation of Nari-Master Beef Cattle in Balochistan, livestock training and capacity building, formation of dairy farmers associations, establishment of milk chilling and collection centers, control of adulteration in dairy sector, technical training in dairy sector, and manufacturing of value added dairy products.

Pakistan has an active participation in over 30 international forums. A large number of experts have received training under programmes arranged by these organisations/ associations. Besides, 'there are several projects under the ambit of these associations.

Pakistan's agricultural exports are highly concentrated in few items/ groups namely cotton and products, leather and leather goods, and rice.

These three categories of exports account for 71.1% of total exports in the FY 2002-03. Among these cotton group alone contributed 59.4% followed by leather (6.8%), rice (4.9%).

Exports in the livestock sector account for 11.4 % of total export earnings. Share of fisheries in the GDP, though very little, contributes substantially to the overall export earnings.

Exports from Pakistan were mainly directed to USA, Germany, Japan, UK, Hong King, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan's agriculture related imports are palm oil, soybean oil, pulses, tea, agricultural machinery, and fertilisers. To build buffer wheat stocks, Pakistan intends to import 1 million tons of wheat as a surplus stock to meet possible shortage during the next season.

A quick survey of Pakistani agricultural exports shows that they mainly comprise raw materials for food items.

Pakistan could substantially boost its exports earnings by investment in production of value added food products.

Pakistan can also benefit from diversification of its agricultural products in the light of requirements of its trading partners.

Already, Pakistan has embarked on experimentation in the field of tea cultivation, olive production and increased oilseed production.

The exports can be increased subject to meeting quality and standard related concerns of quarantine issues, food standardisation and grading, quality control, cold chain, food storage, food processing and preservation techniques, etc.

The MINFAL is floating a public-private based company/ corporation to ensure good marketing practices development and boosting exports.

The corporation will work in tandem with the EPB and would be known as Agricultural Production, Development and Marketing Corporation. The Corporation will be managed by the experts mainly drawn from the private sector.

Source: Business Recorder;

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