AGRO PROCESSING ZONE EXISTS JUST ON PAPERS

The project was announced in the 2004-05 export policy

From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
Jan 23 - 29, 2006

The Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Board (PHDEB) has failed to establish Agro Processing Zone (APZ) at Salam-Sargodha despite the project was announced in the 2004-05 export policy.

The Ministry of Commerce sources, confirming the inability of establishing any of the announced APZs, told PAGE that the government for the first time had announced the establishment of four APZs in the country, with the purpose of boosting exports of agriculture products in general and the horticulture products in particular. "One of these APZs was to be established at Salem, Sargodha, on priority basis by spending Rs. 120.43 million," the officials said.

The officials said that Sargodha was one of the agriculturally rich districts of the Punjab. In addition, the adjoining districts like Jhang, Khushab, Mianwali, Mandi Bahuddin and Gujrat are also among the main agriculture producing areas.

The prominent agriculture products of these districts include citrus, guava, potato, tomato, seasonal vegetables and pulses, the officials said, adding that these districts produce about 750,000 tons of citrus fruit, predominantly kinnow, which accounts for 46 percent of the provincial production. The Sargodha district alone produces 628,210 tons citrus fruit which constitute about 40 percent of the provincial production of citrus fruit. Owing to its excellent quality, the Kinnow for export is completely sourced from this area.

The sources added that Kinnow is among the leading exportable fruits from the country. There are over 50 processing plants equipped with grading, washing and waxing facilities. With the exception of 3, all these plants are locally manufactured. In addition, most lacked in blast chilling and cold storage facilities.

The officials said that the anticipated industries in the project had to be included in the processing of fresh fruits & vegetables for export (sorting, grading, washing & waxing according to product requirement), blast chilling & cold storage facilities, including common facility centers, packaging, processed products - pulp, concentrates, juices, frozen foods, dehydrated products etc, based on available raw material like Kinnow, guava, potato tomato, processing of other agriculture commodities like lentils.

The sources said that the proposed project was spread over 250 acres. However, initially 50 acres of land was to be developed out of 31.8 acres of land in fist phase.

Talking about the capital cost, the sources said that component value was estimated at Rs 120.4 million, including Rs. 37.25 million for land, plant and machinery as Rs. 16.13 million, Roads as Rs. 14.54 million besides external electrification as Rs. 7.35 million, sewerage system and Water Supply System Rs. 4.04 million, Gas Supply Rs. 1.50 million, affluent collection & solid waste system Rs. 5.48 million, buildings/civil works & boundary wall Rs. 15.40 million, tools & equipment Rs. 1.15 million. Rs. 8.60 million had been allocated for vehicles & waste management equipment with deferred & pre operating expenses of Rs. 6.25million. The sources said that contingencies were estimated as Rs. 2.23 million, whereas the initial working capital was required as Rs. 0.51 million.

The sources said that the component 'B' was consisting of Common Facility Centre (CFC) equipped with state of the art grading, washing and waxing, packing and cooling facilities. Initially state of the art facilities would be established in the public sector in order to induce the private investors through practical demonstration of the benefits of improved technology, for operation as Common Facility Centers (CFC), which was to encourage new exporters including progressive farmers or farmer groups to enter export business and avail the facilities of CFC till such time they gain sufficient experience and confidence to set up their own facilities.

Soures said that the capacity of the citrus (Kinnow) grading, washing and waxing plant was proposed at 10 tons per hour whereas the capacity of the potato sorting, grading and packing plant was proposed at 10 tons per hour. The cold storage capacity is proposed at 1200 tons with an estimated cost of CFC at Rs. 120.9million

The sources further said that a three tier management was proposed for the APZ - a Board of Directors for formulation of policies and its review, supported by a Steering Committee for overall monitoring of the project, assisted by a Project Implementation Unit (PIU) to implement its establishment, operation and management.