ISLAMABAD: As the second phase of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) begins, substantial emphasis needs be laid on the development of the agriculture sector in Pakistan, which offers huge prospects of growth, according to experts.
The message emerged from a policy dialogue on ‘National Agriculture and Food Security in Pakistan’, which was held at Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) here in collaboration with Pakistan Agriculture Scientists Forum (PAS Forum) on Monday.
CPEC is a collection of infrastructure projects aimed at improving Pakistan’s connectivity not only within itself and China, but with over 60 other countries, which are part of the land route of China’s Belt and Road Initiative involving infrastructure development and investments.
‘CPEC offers opportunity to help agriculture’
The session on Monday was addressed by Muhammad Azeem Khan, Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Anwar-ul-Hasan Gilani, Vice Chancellor University of Haripur, and Amanullah Malik from the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, among others.
Presenting an overview of Pakistan’s agriculture sector, Azeem Khan emphasized the need of enhancing productivity of various potential sub sectors of agriculture, not only with an aim to address the country’s food security concerns, but also to alleviate it for international trade.
“Pakistan was a food exporting country till 2013 but became a food importing country thereafter. However, the second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor offers a good opportunity to help the agriculture sector to recover,” he said on the occasion.
The PARC chairman was all for alleviating the agriculture sector via business-oriented model, which in his opinion, could only be done through value addition i.e. converting raw materials into standard commercial products and brands.
“Combinations of different commodities and products being produced alongside the CPEC routes boost significant prospects in this regard. There is a huge potential for the production and export of fodder, edible oils and palm oil, as well as pulses and oil seeds,” he noted.
The speaker, however, pointed out that the post-harvest losses still remain a concern in the country, before adding that the solution lies in careful measures taken in the areas of production, diversification, post-harvest handling, processing, certification, and value addition.