An exclusive interview with Hakeem Muhammad Usman, CEO, Marhaba Laboratories
It was never too late to accomplish his dreams, and due to his pervasive work into making this profession a credible one, Hakeem Usman finally succeeded in transforming his vision into reality and founded Marhaba with the help of his siblings in July 1975.
Soon after its inception, the institute started working on researching on herbal medicines and other natural products to produce result-oriented pharmaceutical medicines and natural dietary supplements. With the development of R&D department and induction of devoted staff and qualified scientists, prescriptions and remedies started reaching the end consumer in a ready to use form.
Marhaba is indeed the philanthropy of one man whose courage and determination made Marhaba an influential name in the industry. Today, the natural herbal products of Marhaba have become the household name not only inside Pakistan, but their demand is equally high abroad where people believe in the efficacy of Oriental medicines.
PAGE: First of all please tell us briefly about operations of Marhaba Laboratories?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: Marhaba was established in 1975 with the aim of producing Oriental medicines and natural dietary supplements in a modern and scientific manner so that the ages old prescriptions and remedies, reach the customers in a ready to use form, without in any way affecting their efficacy and natural qualities.
Now, Marhaba is the third largest company producing a wide range of products in the categories of Health Food Products, Herbal Medicines and Natural Cosmetics with millions of satisfied consumers who trust Marhaba products because of its unmatched quality and efficacy.
Marhaba houses a state-of-the-art and manufacturing facility and a most modern quality control lab. Our manufacturing plant is approved by DRAP (Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan) and PFA (Punjab Food Authority). Research and Development is a passion at Marhaba and our R&D department is continuously working on the development of new products. Marhaba has strong and experienced sales and marketing teams along with a network of Marhaba Matabs in Lahore where patients get free consultation and prescriptions from our qualified Hakeems.
PAGE: How do you review the performance of Marhaba Laboratories in domestic and international markets?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: Marhaba has excelled in a very short span of time. It has become a household name not only in Pakistan but all over the world where Asian and other people conversant with the efficacy of Oriental medicines live. Reason behind this extraordinary performance is the quality assurance and quality management system to meet the customer satisfaction, national & international standards.
Marhaba has consolidated its image as a “purity and quality” conscious company and has, over the years, demonstrated its firm commitment to quality and strict adherence to international standards.
PAGE: How important is branding of food products for Pakistan?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: Branding a product differentiates your product from the competition and branding helps to position your product on its key features. Customers in Pakistan are now more brand-conscious than ever, therefore branding has become the most important aspect of a product. Pakistan has to work on branding of agri/food products on war-footing since the share of Pakistan in this sector’s exports is less than one percent of global exports.
PAGE: Please tell us about progress at Marhaba?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: By the Grace of Allah, Marhaba is progressing on a steady pace. Continuous high standards of service and affordable prices are playing a major role in the growth of our business. We take proactive steps to ensure that our products are safe, pure and effective. Our products continually meet the rigorous certification requirements of National GMP Standards for quality and purity.
Marhaba takes pride in maintaining a high quality in its products and superior skills and acquiring the latest in advanced technology. Company is keen to gain expertise and knowledge in the field of herbal sciences and to stay updated with the global trends. These expertise and knowledge has always leveraged Marhaba and the company is modernizing the old wisdom and knowledge of herbs through current research and development.
PAGE: How competition has emerged over the years?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: This is very interesting question because competition has really changed over the years. Now, the world is shifting to a natural way of life and people have become more conversant with the benefits and uses of herbal and natural ingredients. That is why herbal medicines and natural dietary supplements are being preferred over pharmaceutical and synthetic products. Similarly, herbal and natural cosmetics are now in trend to enhance and protect natural beauty. Therefore, herbal products and natural dietary food supplements have now become a competition to the pharmaceutical products and synthetic food supplements and the need now is to get into more research and development and to put up the manufacturing on GMP standards so that these products may get more acceptability and offer better efficacy.
PAGE: What are your comments on taxation system pertaining to food business?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: Along with other businesses, food business is also suffering because of current taxation policies. If value added and processed food will be taxed it will definitely halt the investments in this sector which will influence the local production as well as exports of this commodity. Therefore, government should revise the tax policies pertaining to the food business so that investment in this sector should be encouraged.
PAGE: What is your take on local and foreign investment in food and agriculture sectors in Pakistan?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: Food and agriculture sector is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. We have the best produce of agriculture and food products and the need is to maximize our production and investment in the food processing industry. At this point of time, agriculture and food products sector is the best place for local and foreign investment as we only need to add value to our products through latest food processing techniques and we can not only get rid of imported food products but also earn valuable foreign exchange for the beloved country.
PAGE: What role food and agriculture sectors can play in taking the country out of current financial crisis?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: Agriculture sector is the most important part of the economy of Pakistan. Agriculture sector is contributing almost 23.4% in the economy of Pakistan. Food and agriculture sector can play a vital role in getting our country out of current financial crisis. Pakistan has been blessed by four seasons, most fertile land, and world’s best and largest irrigation system. Pakistan has a tremendous potential in producing food and agricultural products not only to meet its own needs but to export its surplus production.
Unfortunately, we are not incorporating the modern techniques of agriculture and production and that is why we are not utilizing full capacity of our natural resources. The need now is to adopt modern techniques of production and value addition to our products to make them competitive and acceptable in other countries.
UAE is not an agricultural country and hardly produces any agricultural product but they are earning US$ 22 billion dollars every year just by re-exporting food products after repacking and value addition. On the other hand Pakistan being an agricultural country and having best produce of fruits and vegetable is just earning 400 million dollars through export.
By utilizing our natural resources to the full capacity and working on the value addition of our agricultural produce we can earn billions of dollars and can get our beloved country out of current financial crisis.