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Investment avenues in agriculture sector: Saudi Arabia in talks with Pakistan
Saturday, June-14-2008

ISLAMABAD (June 14 2008): A delegation of Saudi Ministry of Agriculture is likely to visit Pakistan some time next week to explore investment opportunities in agriculture sector, it is learnt. The Saudi delegation would hold talks with their Pakistani counterparts to finalise modalities about land and other issues.

Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock had held talks with Saudi counterpart during the recent visit of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi delegation's visit to Pakistan is follow-up of the discussion with Pakistani delegation in Saudi Arabia to increase cooperation in agriculture sector.

Sources said that Pakistan has offered Saudi Arabia to make investment in corporate farming for which it could be leased out 45 farms across the county for enhancing agriculture output. The Saudi investment in Pakistan agriculture sector could be export-oriented that would also help Saudi Arabia meet its agricultural needs.

The potential areas for investment, sources said, could be dairy sector, large scale cattle, fisheries, fertiliser and also different crops as Saudi Arabia is keen to import about a million tons rice from Pakistan. The main thrust of Prime Minister's visit to Saudi Arabia was to build on long-term strategic relationship between the two countries to enhance bilateral trade and evolving a joint strategy against global food crisis, sources said.

"We want Saudi Arabia to invest for corporate farming in 45 big farms" the Saudi Arabia delegation said, and added that it could also help Pakistan in meeting export standard, particularly fruits, to Unites Sates and European countries.

"They could help us by setting up food irradiation plants to meet quality standard for export of orange, citrus and mangoes to the US" sources said, and added that Saudi Arabia is keen to import rice from Pakistan and might also invest in fertiliser sector.

They said that Prime Minister had also held meeting with Saudi agriculture minister on the sideline of World Economic Forum (WEF) at Sharm El Sheikh where Saudi minister had indicated his country's interest to invest in Pakistan agriculture sector.

Apart from agriculture, prospect areas of cooperation between the two counties are oil and gas sector, manpower and bilateral trade. The sources pointed out that it was only on last Wednesday that finance minister Syed Naveed Qamar in his budget speech formally announced that foreign investment will be encouraged to increase country's productivity and develop cultivable areas.

The minister also announced that large tracts of land will be made available to foreign investors to induct capital and technology in our local farming sector. Meanwhile, a leading financial daily claimed on Friday that the kingdom is in talks with five countries and Pakistan is one of them. According to the newspaper, Saudi Arabia has revealed that Riyadh is in discussions with Ukraine, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey and Egypt.

"Abdullah al-Obaid, the deputy agriculture minister, told the Financial Times the government was planning to set up projects of at least 100,000 hectares in several countries to grow crops such as wheat, corn, rice, soyabeans and alfalfa, a feed for livestock," the Financial Times says.

The move which, according to the newspaper, is also aimed at building up strategic reserves, comes as food prices have doubled over the past two years and a series of trade restrictions by exporting countries have limited the oil-rich kingdom's ability to secure supplies.

Courtesy Business Recorder

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