PUNJAB'S INITIATIVE TO BOOST AGRICULTURE SECTOR

PAMCO is designed to act as a catalyst and lure the largely uninvolved private sector into an area, which has limitless possibilities

From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
Dec 26 - Jan 01, 2006

After their recent move to team up with Jahangir Siddiqui Capital Market, PAMCO have taken yet another significant initiative to boost up the stagnant agriculture sector with an innovative plan.

Punjab Agricultural Marketing Company (PAMCO) was set up by Punjab government as a public limited company to be run by private sector and by thorough professionals drawn from it.

It is clearly designed to act as a catalyst and lure the hitherto dormant or largely uninvolved private sector into an area, which has limitless possibilities.

A dynamic CEO, Mansoor Arfin, who has assembled an aggressive team of marketing professionals, heads PAMCO with a powerful board of directors. After a period of initial homework PAMCO is now gathering momentum to launch its operation to uplift the Punjab's neglected areas of agriculture. Leaving aside the wheat, cotton, sugarcane, rice and other cash corps they have mainly focussed on some sectors which have never before been given a professional handling or helping touch to overcome their many weak areas.

PAMCO's Marketing Manager Tariq Azam told PAGE that they have identified the following areas to tackle for maximizing its productivity, revenue and overcome its inherent weaknesses and huge waste.

a) Vegetables
b) Fruits
c) Livestock
d) Fisheries
e) Cut flowers

Punjab, a food basket for the country, is rich in all the above categories but due to many inherent problems, waste, lack of resources, financing and proper marketing it has been unable to make the desired headway. PAMCO, with a master plan and clear vision was there to prove the lead in this regard, he added.

He said Punjab despite rich in potential had lagged behind in many ways to modernize and provide much required expertise, know-how or value added techniques to boost income. Due to lack of proper resources and planning there was phenomenal waste and losses, which needs urgent rectification.

PAMCO, he said, wanted to help create the infrastructure to provide chain of cold storage facilities at the main airports, railway stations as well as at the major production points.

Then there was a need to provide refrigerated transportation, financial support to the agri-business and other expert value-added information to give it a spurt. So far this sector has lagged behind in the absence of all these vital inputs.

The fruits and vegetables, which are highly perishable commodities, needed support to overcome huge waste by setting up processing and preservation plants, which could revitalize the whole industry in a big way.

He said it was only through private sector and its dynamism that this sector could be made to realize its vast potential.

With the signing of two MoUs, PAMCO was now moving in high gear. It was tapping private sector investment through JSCMI and setting in motion some innovative plans for agri-sector through the help of LUMS. In this regard, Mansoor Arfeen, CEO PAMCO and Imran Ali from LUMS last weak signed a MoU. The MoU would enable the two organizations to organize seminars, workshops, besides granting diplomas in agri business disciplines.

Later, talking to the newsmen, Arfeen said that the current agri study infrastructure was sub-standard and it was only churning out graduates for government services. The intent of the MoU, he said, was to groom agri business graduates. He told that LUMS has been selected as it has better infrastructure to conduct research in the discipline, which can then become the ground base for awarding diplomas.

When asked about the immediate plans in the pipeline, Mr Arfeen told about the seminar on SAFTA to be organized in LUMS in January 2006 to look into the possibilities of advantages Pakistani agriculture can accrue through the trade arrangement.

He also announced a series of four seminars to be organized before June 2006, significant among them a seminar on agri business and private sector response.

Imran Ali also spoke on the occasion and hoped that the MoU would enable identification of larger set of activities for agro business promotion.

AREA, PRODUCTION AND YIELD OF PRINCIPAL CROPS(2003-04)

CROPS

AREA 
000 HECTARES

PRODUCTION
000 TON.

YIELD/ HECTARE KG.

1. Wheat

8,216.20

19,499.80

2,373.00

2. Cotton

2,989.30

10,047.70

572

3. Rice

2,460.60

4,847.60

1,970.00

4. Sugarcane

1,074.50

53,419.00

49,715.00

5. Maize

947.1

1,897.40

2,003.00

6. Gram

982.3

611.1

622

7. Barley

101.6

97.6

961

8. Jowar

392.5

238.1

607

9. Bajra

539.3

273.7

508

10. R & M Seeds

256.1

220.7

862

11.Sesamum

59.8

24.7

413

12.Tobacco

47.3

83.8

1,772.00