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08 - 14 Sept, 2012
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ECONOMIC REVIEW
Enhancing Export Of Horticulture And Livestock
Saving the produce from going stale can double the availability
by SHABBIR H. KAZMI

Enhancing Export Of Horticulture And Livestock
While it seems difficult to contain imports, it looks most probable that if Pakistan focuses of boosting export of horticulture and livestock, trade deficit can be contained substantially. Apprehensions that export of these products could lead to shortage of these products are baseless because more than 40% of the produce goes stale before reaching the market. Attempt to save the produce from going stale could not only help in boosting exports but also income of the growers and poverty alleviation.
In many of the products Pakistan is with the top ten producers, which is despite the fact that yield is disappointingly low and production could be increased significantly be deploying better crop management techniques that include: 1) using certified seeds, 2) applying appropriate dosage of nutrients and above all 3) making judicious use of irrigation water. Buying inputs should not pose any problem for the farmers because now annual disbursement of agri loans by commercial banks exceeds Rs 300 billion.
In the first phase efforts have to be made to save the produce from going stale. This requires improving logistic and storage systems. It is on record that over the years Pakistan has been able to produce around 25 million tons wheat but put all sorts of facilities not more than 10 million tons can be warehoused appropriately. Yield of sugarcane is low because a significant quantity is cultivated in cotton growing belt. Pakistan is among the top five producers of milk but less than 5% of total quantity can be Enhancing Export Of Horticulture And Livestockpacked in tetra packs. Similarly, a huge quantity of fruits produced in northern areas could not be bought to bid cities because of scarcity of refrigerated containers.
Therefore, Pakistan has to come up multipronged strategies which have to be crop specific. Since work on all the crops just can't be started simultaneously. Each district or produce has to pick up one or maximum two crops and work wholeheartedly to increase yield, contain wastage and improve logistic and storage facilities.
Since Punjab has the largest areas under cultivation and also adequate irrigation facilities it should focus on wheat, rice, mango and oilseeds. Sindh should focus on cotton, mango and sugarcane. Balochsitan should focus on province specific fruits. KP and GB should also focus of fruits. Since commercial banks are offering loans specifically for the construction of storage facilities. They should also start lending soft-term loans for developing integrated supply chains for highly perishable fruits. Bulk of the percentage of these fruits is destroyed because till today the country has highly depleted storage and transportation facilities.
It is necessary to reiterate that four important oilseeds are produced in Pakistan but still at an average the country imports US$2 billion edible oil. The groups having vested interest keep on saving that any effort to bring more area under the cultivation of oilseeds could have negative impact on wheat. This can be termed spreading disinformation because these oil seeds can be cultivated on average land, and with lesser use of irrigation water. However, it is true that if farmers really focus on oilseeds, per acre income can be increased many fold.
The rule of thumb is that income from orchids at up to 10 times the income earned from the conventional crops. It is true that for the initial three years growers get a nominal income but the plants start yielding fruits, the income is really fabulous. This could be best understood that the smallest middleman in mango trade is called 'mashakhor'. This group of vendors dealing in Sindhri mangos works for less than Enhancing Export Of Horticulture And Livestockthree months and live on it for remaining nine months in a year.
As the income of growers of wheat rice, cotton and sugarcane has become almost flat over the years, they are also making a deliberate attempt on developing orchids. However, at time they face real precarious situation if there is a virus or pest attack. Often standing crop in infected areas has to be destroyed to save the adjoining area. Some top of control mechanism also has to be introduced to discourage frequent switchover from one crop to another. This often leads to glut followed by shortage. In case of glut farmers often burn out standing crops.
Special focus on cultivation of sugarcane yield extraordinary benefits. It is on record that Pakistan has above 9 million tons sugar production capacity but average production hovers around 4 million tons. Since the government has failed in announcing sugar export policy, huge quantity of refined sugar is smuggled to the neighboring country. It is on record that during 2011-12 over 1.2 million tons surplus sugar was produced. However, delay in granting permission to export of sugar has already led to smuggling of nearly half a million tons sugar. The prices prevailing in Pakistan and other countries offer enormous incentive and porous borders is the added advantage.
Higher crushing of sugarcane is expected to yield higher molasses production. Experts say that nearly 150 products can be produced from molasses, but more than 90% of total molasses produced in the country is exported. This looks most disgusting because almost all the sugar mills have attached distilleries, which either operate on nominal capacity or remain closed for exceptionally long hours. Enhancing higher production of ethanol and its blending with motor gasoline can also help in not only containing motor gasoline import but more importantly achieving higher value addition.
Hal food market now runs into billions of dollars. Focusing on livestock can not only help in bringing price of milk and meat but enhancing production of leather and leather products. Pakistan has managed to improve milk collection system, but only marginally. It is necessary to mention that population of buffalos Karachi is approaching half a million, despite the fact that the city does not have any milk packing plant. Bulk of the milk is sold in loose mainly used for producing curd and lassi. The population would have been higher had production of green fodder sufficient around Karachi.
Some of the experts are of the opinion that cultivation of corn in the adjoining areas can help in increasing availability of greed fodder as well production of corn oil and oilcakes. Animals fed on oilcakes yield higher milk. Average production per animal in Pakistan is only a fraction of quantity produced around the globe.


 
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