Parliamentary panel stresses focus on agriculture under CPEC

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor on Wednesday called for strengthening the agriculture sector under the CPEC framework keeping in view that the sector is one the most important sources of employment for the people of the country.

The committee, which met under the chairmanship of Sher Ali Arbab, emphasized that Pakistan, instead of relying on China for technological transfer, should build its own capacity and research to encourage indigenous technological innovations and modernize the agriculture sector.

The panel suggested that the research carried by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) to enhance agricultural production needs to be collaborated with the Ministry of Commerce and other concerned authorities so as to check economic viability of the agricultural commodities and to ensure that Pakistan’s vast agriculture potential is being utilized to enhance exports.

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The committee further recommended the government to capitalize on opportunities available in China’s meat market, as the China imports meat worth $48 billion from other countries. It called for measures to meet international food standards and initiate negotiations with China to remove anomalies in this regard.

Earlier, the committee was briefed by National Food Security and Research Secretary Ghufran Memon and PARC Chairman Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan on the existing projects in the agriculture sector.

Dr Azeem, while sharing 10-year development targets under CPEC, informed the committee that PARC’s aim is to make Pakistan a cotton exporting country, thereby helping it save foreign exchange worth $1.5 billion.

“Besides renovation of existing orchards, introduction of new varieties, reduction in post-harvest losses, improvement in value chain and development of rural industries are major proposed interventions.”

Meanwhile, the committee members also paid a visit to the exhibition at National Agriculture Research Centre where a comprehensive briefing was given on agro-tech, aquaculture and fisheries programme, honeybee research institute, alternative energy use in agriculture and vegetable and fruit crops cultivation processes.

The committee members remarked that farmers are the major stakeholders of the agriculture sector, and it is a matter of concern that seeds of various crops are not being provided to farmers on time.

They called for removal of bottlenecks to ensure fair and timely distribution of crops seeds to the farmers.

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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