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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Oct 15 - 21, 2001

New canola varieties to hike edible oil output

Pakistan Oil Development Board (PODB) has initiated a plan to increase edible oil production by promoting cultivation of canola to meet domestic requirement of 1.9 million tons every year.

About 0.5 million tons is produced by the local growers while the remaining 1.2 million tons is imported to bridge the gap between the produce and consumption. According to official sources, PODB has developed new varieties of canola with indigenous resources. These varieties include synthetic as well as hybrid varieties. Local canola varieties have performed better than the imported varieties cultivated at various locations in the country under different agro-ecological conditions and these local varieties are fully acclimatized to local environment.

Local canola seed production has resulted in self-sufficiency in canola seed requirements and now there is no need to import canola seed by public or private sectors. Local canola seed production has reduced the cost of the seed providing a relief to the growers. Local seed of synthetic types costs Rs50 as compared to the international price of Rs180 to 250 per kg. Local hybrid seed of canola costs Rs150 per kg.

There is a vast potential to increase production of canola oil and main thrust is being laid for replacement of sarson acreage by canola cultivation. Sarson crop is being cultivated on about 700,000 acres annually replacement of which will enhance canola acreage to about 1.0 million acres thus enhancing the canola production to 200,000 tons valued at Rs7.5 billion per annum.

Canola crop can be grown throughout the country and it requires minimum three irrigations at the time of its sowing, flowering and seed formation.

In Pakistan, canola cultivation started in 1985-86 on experimental basis with imported varieties. Commercial cultivation of canola started in Pakistan in 1995 when it was planted on 100,000 acres compared to 8,000 acres of 1994. Now canola has become a popular oilseed crop in Pakistan.

Economy & business after Sept 11

The world has changed for everyone since the day of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But because of its location in immediate neighbourhood of the country that is in the eye of the storm the status of Pakistan has quickly spiralled from one of not much significance to that of perhaps the most closely watched nation in the world today. The limelight may turn out to be both a boon and a bane for the country's economy.

Immediately after the September 11 incident, the country received the last tranche of $136 million, which already was in the pipeline. Economic sanctions were as quickly lifted as they had been clamped. Grants, even if in smaller sums as $40 and 50 million flowed in from Japan and the US. Pakistan, which is saddled with the enormous sum of $36.8 billion in total debts, is asking for waiver, write-offs and rescheduling. The Finance Minister is in Washington to negotiate the $2.5 billion PRGF soft term loan and to seek relief from quota restrictions, duty-free access to US markets, all of which are expected to meet with sympathetic considerations from the US and other donors.

New varieties of wheat seed approved

The variety evaluation committee of National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) has approved for release of six new varieties of high-yielding wheat seed.

According to a Pakistan Agricultural Research Council press release, the new wheat varieties developed by Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) Bhakkar, Nuclear Institute for Agriculture Tandojam, Agriculture Research Station, Sarai Naurang, Wheat Programme NARC Islamabad, Cereal Research Crop Institute, Pirsabak and Agriculture Institute Sariab Quetta respectively include Bhakkar 2001, Marvi 2000, Marvat J-01, Wafaq 2001, Saleem 2000, Zariashta 1999.

The varieties approved for release were claimed to be high-yielding, disease resistant with superior quality traits and tolerance against various abiotic stresses prevalent in the area.

1m cotton bales procurement by TCP flayed

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) chairman Nadeem Maqbool has expressed concern over the government's decision for allowing TCP to procure one million bales of lint cotton at Rs1,855 per maund of grade III.

In a statement Aptma chief pointed out that TCP will tender this cotton for export to competitors at a colossal loss to the exchequer. He said "our competitors will get raw material at a price much lower than the price offered to the local textile industry. Nadeem Maqbool said that the last sale of cotton concluded by TCP at 30.06 cents per pound, had allowed " our competitors to buy cotton at Rs1,400 whereas textile mills were purchasing cotton at around Rs1,600 per maund.

Industrial output plummets by 50pc

The manufacturing output in the city's four main industrial estates plummeted by 50 per cent as a result of strike observed on Friday against the US bombing on Afghanistan.

Industrialists said 50 per cent of work force failed to turn up at the factory gates as the strike, which was called by Pak-Afghan Defence Council, crippled the movement of public transport.

The situation in three main industrial centres North Karachi, Site and F.B. Area became highly tense specially after Juma prayers. More than 50 per cent of plants were forced to close down after Juma prayers due to panic caused by a big rally in Banaras area.

Turkmen gas pipeline

US-based energy firms through Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) are likely to reactivate over $2 billion investment in Turkmenistan to Pakistan gas pipeline project.

Informed sources in the energy sector said that Pakistan and the US have started initial consultations to materialize benefits of removal of economic sanctions on Pakistan that allowed OPIC and US Exim Bank to finance private sector projects.