Private, Financial Sectors To Change Face Of Agriculture, Says Aurangzeb

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LAHORE: Muhammad Aurangzeb, Federal Minister for Finance, has said that Pakistan’s current economic outlook can help our private and financial sectors to change the face of agriculture in the county.

He was speaking at the concluding session of Pakistan Agricultural Coalition’s conference ‘Agri Connections 2024’ at the Expo Center, Lahore on Thursday. 

“Robust growth in the agriculture sector, declining inflation rates, strong value of the rupee, strong remittance inflows, rising forex reserves, and a buoyant stock market are stable macroeconomic indicators underscoring the country’s improved economic outlook,” said the finance minister. 

He added that we are expecting to receive a tranche of US$1bn from the IMF while the bumper rice crop brought us a comparable amount of dollars this year. The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) is designed for investment promotion in the field of agriculture.

“We want to facilitate farm machinery service providers and we need a major scale up of modern agri warehousing under the EWRs financing that allows agri commodities to be traded nationally and internationally,” said the federal minister. 

Meanwhile, Ahsan Rana, Associate Professor, LUMS, said that the country’s overly regulated seed system is not good for our agriculture sector’s growth. 

“Cumbersome procedures have made our seed system depend on the government, making Pakistan stay in the lowest ranks in this domain according to the World Bank,” said Ahsan. 

He said that compliance should be voluntary, enforcement should be limited to few aberrations, a two-tier system for seed companies should be developed, and regulators should become facilitators. 

Maria Saleem, GM Agri-Business, Fatima Group, said that per acre yield enhancement in wheat can trigger an additional $18 billion by freeing up 5 million acres on which cotton is cultivated. 

She added that Pakistan can earn $1.6 billion by planting Canola/raya on 5 million acres saved for wheat area as Pakistan imports 4 million tons of edible oil worth $4billion annually. 

“We need to invest in R&D for specialty crops. Corporate farming can serve well for the country. Hybrid wheat seeds can produce 34 million tons of wheat for the country,” said Maria. 

Hasan Raza of Neelum Seeds said that investment in seed and modern technology is needed of the time because the public sector has limited resources and globally the private sector leads the seed sectors.

“Liberal seed policy is the need of the hour. In the United States there is no requirement for seed registration as the market mechanism decides the winners,” said Hasan.

Nabeel Chaudhry, CEO Thai Union, said that the Punjab government has few million acres of Brackish land which is good for shrimp farming. 

“We can earn $2billion by exporting shrimps if we use one lac acres of this Brackish land for shrimp farming,” said Nabeel, adding that India is earning more than $6billion through shrimp exports. 

Sam Knowlton, global expert on regenerative agriculture, said that a decline in nutritional quality of rice and wheat has been identified by a recent study while we lose 20 to 40 percent of all crops to pest and disease each year despite increased pesticide use.

PAC Co-founder and Strategy Advisor Kazim Saeed summed up the conference by saying that we have heard new, financially sound arguments at this conference from the business community for investing in agriculture. 

In the end, Chairman PAC Hadi Ali Rizvi thanked all the sponsors and exhibitors who showcased the future of corporate and innovative farming in Pakistan, state-of-the-art technologies, equipment, and solutions that are driving the future of agriculture. 

“I must also acknowledge the contributions of the progressive farmers and students who have shared their projects and research findings with us. Your dedication to innovation and sustainability is commendable, and your presentations have served as a source of inspiration for all of us who are committed to the advancement of agriculture,” said Hadi.  

He also thanked the organizing committee of PAC, event managers Osiris, volunteers, and sponsors to make this conference a reality and a tremendous success.

“I hope that connections forged and insights gained during this conference will continue to inspire progress and innovation in the agricultural sector,” said Hadi.

 

Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi is an award-winning digital, print, and broadcast investigative journalist who is the co-founder of The Scoop. He also hosts his web shows 'The Scoop' and 'The Hassan Naqvi Show'.

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