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FAISALABAD: A comprehensive and balanced system covering all segments of agriculture and protecting financial interest of all concerned is imperative to enhance agriculture productivity and value addition, said Dr Sajjad Arshad Acting President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI).

He was addressing the concluding session of a seminar organized by National Productivity Organization (NPO) on the topic of “Innovative Business Opportunities through Business Ties with Thailand”-Fruit and Vegetable Dehydration.

He said that being an agrarian economy our progress and prosperity is directly linked with this sector and in this connection; this seminar is very much relevant and appropriate in the current situation.

He mentioned his visit to Hunza and said that there was excellent quality of apricot. Upon my query, the growers told them that they have been given proper training to plant apricot trees, harvesting and their dehydration. He said that they further told that they were earlier selling apricot at Rs. 200 per kg but after its dehydration they are now exporting it at Rs. 2,000 per kg.

Dr Sajjad Arshad said that we should also give proper awareness and training about the entire chain of fruits and vegetables from their production, harvesting, dehydration and export with potential markets etc.

“They should also know that from where they could fetch maximum profit of their product”, he said and stressed the need for close liaison between all segments of the production chain. He said that generally isolated decisions are made which benefit one segment at the cost of another.

Substantiating his view point, he said that the government had assured to lift the cotton crop at Rs. 8,000 per maund. “The growers cultivated maximum cotton crop and almost doubled the production”, he said, but their hard-earned crop was sold in the market at Rs. 6,000 only in addition to levying 17% sales tax on cotton seed.

He said that such steps discourage them from sowing a particular crop. He further said that bumper maize crop was harvested this year and Pakistan exported maize of $265million as against $85 million exported last year.

He said that increase in yield inflicted financial loss to the growers hence there must be a reliable system to maintain a strategic balance between the production and their prices. About soybean, the Acting President said that our researchers have now developed two varieties of soybean when 50% of the poultry industry was closed due to the ban on import of this commodity. He said that people also suffered a lot as the prices of chicks, chicken and egg have almost doubled due to this mismanagement at the highest level.

He said that being patriotic Pakistani, we should discourage imports as new jobs are not created through this arrangement. He said that we should take measures to inform growers when and which crop is needed with its well-defined quantity and this job should be entrusted to the agriculture officers of the extension department.

He said that the government incentivised the growers by enhancing the minimum support price of wheat at Rs. 4,000 per maund and as a result we are expecting maximum yield but what havoc would be played with the farmers during its harvesting time, it is quite uncertain.

He said that we should estimate the need of a specific crop for our domestic consumption and industrial needs and only surplus should be exported or consumed for value addition.

He said that dehydration of fruits and crops would certainly increase the profitability of farmers but we must give them exact and authentic information by publishing relevant material in easy Urdu.

Earlier Fahad Imtiaz Deputy Manager NPO stressed the need to enhance production and quality of the products to market it at the global level after its dehydration. He said that in this connection, we could avail the successful experiment of Thailand in this specific field.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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