INTERVIEW WITH SYED NADEEM SHAH, VICE PRESIDENT SINDH ABADGAR BOARD
Aug 6 - 12, 2012
PAGE: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF?
SYED NADEEM SHAH: I belong to Matiari. I did my MBA from Sindh University and I have been looking after my farms for the last 36 years. I am the Vice President of the Sindh Abadgar Board, Member Director Sindh Seed Corporation, Member Director Cotton Standard Institute (MINTEX), Member Executive Committee Pakistan Central Cotton Committee and Member Sugarcane Control Board Sindh as well. I grow a wide variety of crops which include cotton, onion, wheat, sugarcane, mangoes, lemon orchards at Matiari and rice & sugarcane at Thatta.
PAGE: PLEASE TELL US ABOUT FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN RELATION TO THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR OF PAKISTAN BY COUNTRIES SUCH AS SAUDI ARABIA AND OTHER GCC COUNTRIES:
SYED NADEEM SHAH: I am not aware of Saudi Arabia's direct investment in the agriculture sector as they were interested in corporate farming some time ago but that was not materialized. Although some other Arab countries like the UAE have done some work in the agriculture sector as they are interested in animal fodder and wheat. UAE investors are running the business of fodder (losan) at Mirpur Khas district.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON AGRICULTURE SECTOR OF SINDH AND PAKISTAN?
SYED NADEEM SHAH: Agriculture sector of Sindh in particular and Pakistan in general is doing very well even after the disastrous flood in 2010 followed by the rains causing floods in 2011. The Agriculture sector has showed growth. Agriculture is the backbone of economy in Pakistan. 75% population is directly or indirectly related to agriculture. It contributes 23% in GDP, employs around 44% of the country's workforce and contributes effectively to export earnings. It provides raw material to industries and is also a market for industrial products. Any ups and downs in agriculture leaves a direct impact on our economy. 70% export earning is cotton related while rice export has also contributed a lot during the last few years.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON FOOD SECURITY AS THERE IS A DROUGHT IN THE USA AND IN SOME OTHER COUNTRIES:
SYED NADEEM SHAH: Food Security is becoming a global concern. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it doesn't face such a situation as we are not only self sufficient in wheat as our production is between 25 and 27 million tons whereas our consumption is 23 million tons. If we talk about rice, it is again a plus factor as it is not our staple food like our neighboring countries. Our rice production is 6 million tons while consumption is between 2 and 3 million tons. We have a surplus in rice. Water already is a scarce commodity world wide so we need to work hard on water management and for effective use . We need to construct dams for storage and electricity. We also need to go for proper land management to get maximum benefit from minimum usage of water.
PAGE: YOUR COMMENTS ON THE PRODUCTION OF RICE, VEGETABLES AND GRAIN:
SYED NADEEM SHAH: Our rice is not properly refined in our rice mills due to old machines and we don't have proper technology to get refined rice. We get some times 50% less market price in the world than Vietnam and other rice producing countries. Thus, losing our share in the world market. Vegetables are grown within the whole of Pakistan and some have a provincial identity as 90% chillies are planted in Sindh, Onion is grown abundantly in Sindh and Balochistan as potato is mainly grown in Punjab, while tomato is also major vegetable of Sindh and Balochistan. Other vegetables are mostly grown throughout the whole of Pakistan and as such there is no shortage of vegetables unless some alarming situations like floods or shortage of water prevails. Vegetable seed is a big problem because the junk of it is being imported and multinational companies providing seeds violate regularly without having any check and balance. These seeds should be produced locally.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON THE STATE BANK OF PAKISTAN'S ROLE IN AGRICULTURAL CREDIT FOR FARMERS?
SYED NADEEM SHAH: The State bank does play a very positive role regarding advances to growers. Directly the commercial banks has given targets for agricultural loans otherwise they are being penalized. ZTBL is the only agriculture bank which provides a meager 10% of the amount needed for agriculture sector due to a shortage of funds.