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Profile  Kaukab Iqbal
Company Profile   Branding pso as the preferred choice of customers


Kaukab Iqbal

Kaukab Iqbal dreams to see Pakistan green, particularly the coastal areas which offer an ideal climate to plant coconut and oil palms. Impressed by lush green beaches and coastal areas and influenced by coconut plantations in such countries of the region as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Malaysia he happened to visit after doing his graduation from Mehran University Sindh he feels that planting coconut and oil palms will not only help enhance the natural beauty but can also help reduce edible oil imports significantly. "If coconut and oil palms plantations can be developed in these countries what stops us to develop them here", he argues. Kaukab says he started a free coconut and oil palm consultancy service a decade ago. Encouraged by the interest shown by the then Governor of Sindh, Moinuddin Haider (now the Interior Minister), he founded Pakistan Coconut and Oil Palm Plantation Society four years ago. He is currently the chairman of the Society which focuses on creating public awareness as well as decimates information to interested growers.

By Syed M. Aslam
Mar 25 - 31, 2002

PAGE: Do we have the right climate for coconut and oil palm plantation?

Kaukab Iqbal: Absolutely. May be even better. The provinces of Sindh and Balochistan have an ideal climate to grow both coconut and oil palms. Our studies show that while oil palms in Malaysia starts bearing fruit after an average of five years in Pakistan they start bearing fruit one year early. We have the ideal climate to plant coconut and oil palms as far as 100 miles within the coastal areas. Mirpur Khas, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin and Thatta in Sindh and Ormara, Vindar and Hub in Balochistan are the most suitable areas to develop coconut and oil palms plantations.

PAGE: Do coconut and oil palms plantations needs lot of water?

Kaukab Iqbal: They require water like all other plants and thus are most suitable to grow in irrigation-fed areas. However, the water requirements can be met through tubewells as well as treated water which can also serve as manure. As is, some 35 million gallon of water is lost everyday in Karachi as the Treatment Plant at Mauripur (TP3) is unable to treat all the used water in the city. This vast quantity of used water which is only partially treated is dumped into the sea. If we can treat this vast quantity of water entirely and use it to grow coconut and oil palms it would not only turn Karachi seaside into soothing green but would also help reduce air and water pollution.

PAGE: What about the economics?

Kaukab Iqbal: We are spending some 33 billion rupees on the import of edible oil at present which is second only to the bill of POL imports. This can be reduced if we choose to develop coconut and oil palms plantations on a commercial scale. Coconut and oil palm plantation offers great profits to the growers at much lower comparative costs than other oil seeds. For instance, on an average 64 oil palms can be developed on a single acre the cost of which from sowing to full maturity of 7-8 years totals about Rs 15,000- Rs 5,000 for soil preparation, fertilizer and plantation plus Rs 2,000 for 64 samplings each supplied by the Oil Seed Development Board at a subsidized price of Rs 30 and about Rs 1,000 each for the remaining 7 years. The income per acre from the same after deducting all expenses comes to Rs 55,000 per year. Oil palm also offers the best average productivity over major oilseeds 3,232 oil equivalent kilogram per hectare for palm oil plus 460.8 for palm kernel compared to 552.5 for rapeseed, 527 for sunflower seed, 405.2 for soybean, 379.1 for coconut oil and 193.8 for cottonseed.

PAGE: But the growers would have to wait for 7-8 years for the returns?

Kaukab Iqbal: Yes that's one of the factors discouraging plantation. However, we advice growers to grow such seasonal cash crops as vegetables to support themselves while the plants reach maturity. It may be remembered that while oil palms start bearing fruit as early as within four years here in Pakistan, they are only good for oil extraction from the sixth year while full crops start in the 7th and the 8th year.

PAGE: What is required to encourage commercial plantations?

Kaukab Iqbal: While coconut farming is going on for the last 18 years it is still low by any standard. All are entirely dependent on imported fresh coconut, dried coconut and palm oil. Only the green coconut containing water is produced locally. Only 600 acres of land in the two coastal provinces are under coconut plantation all in the private sector. The government should follow the Malaysian and Sri Lankan models Malaysia, the major producer of palm oil in the world, has palm states while Sri Lanka has declared coastal areas as coconut states. Corporate farming should also be encouraged with the help of the private sector particularly the multinational companies. In addition, the small sector farming should also be encouraged by allocating 4-5 acres of land to local growers in the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan.