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Secretary General (Federal) of the Businessmen Panel (BMP), Ahmad Jawad has said country needs certified nurseries for fruit saplings to not only improve fruit yield but also clinch competitive costs for its products in the international market.

Talking to a group of exporters, he said although the horticulture sector contributes about 12 per cent to the national agriculture induced GDP but its volume of exports remains relatively low. This could be adequately addressed through series of doable and affordable interventions," he said and identified certified nurseries for fruit saplings as a basic requirement.

These, he emphasized, could only help provide good quality true-to-type trees for healthy orchards but also lead to better output essential to increase country exports of non traditional items.

Jawad in this context, particularly referred to Pakistan's horticulture goods exports to China and claimed that it holds the potential to reach $1 billion.

There exist bright chances for enhancement of horticulture trade between the two countries under the One Belt and One Road Initiative (BRI)," he said.

Reiterating that Pakistan could export fruits, vegetables and value added products worth $1 billion to China in the next five years, he said Belt Road Initiative, encompassing both roads and ports infrastructure could widen Pakistan's access to new markets.

"Our exports of these goods is estimated to clinch $2.5 billion as against current $608 million, within five years," said the senior member of FPCCI.

He, however, strongly suggested that provision for quarantine facilities in the special economic zones for the purpose of raising horticulture trade with the South Asian giant was also critically needed.

"We also need to raise awareness about Chinese quarantine regulations and export model among Pakistani exporters," he said.

According to him with the motive to ensure speedy clearance of trade cargo at Pakistani sea ports, assistance from the Chinese authorities has been sought so that the perishable cargo could effectively be transferred with minimal delay from sea ports to the vessels and go-downs.

Ahmad Jawad also proposed need to conduct trade in Chinese Currency so as to reduce dependence on US Dollar.

Our group has also forwarded a proposal to the government asking to convince its Chinese counterpart to allow Pakistani agricultural products at all ports in China via land and sea routes, he said.

As for need of competitive borrowing, he said Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) should revisit its decision on mark up rate which was currently at the moment @ 18.25% and may hit the agriculture financing at large.

Ahmad Jawad observed that the bank meant to fulfill the farmers' needs to promote its deposits, increase its credit lending efficiency in Sindh, Balochistan and KP areas which was ignored before.

The recent increase in its mark up rate to overcome bank losses is unjustified," said the horticulturist.

He emphasized that ZTBL must immediately provide relief to farming community and announce a favorable markup rate, especially for small farmers on the lines of the government vision.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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