Sep 17 - 23, 2007

Pakistan is an agrarian country so agriculture forms the backbone of Pakistan's national economy. Agriculture is critical to both economic growth and poverty reduction. Accounting approximately a quarter of the GDP employing over 44 percent of the workforce. Apparently, the grass looks green. The average annual growth of agricultural output has been quite impressive i.e. above 4%. Future growth will, however, largely depend upon increasing productivity which in turn requires major changes in systems, policies and institutions for agriculture.

Rice, cotton and sugar have figured prominently as traditional agricultural products of Pakistan in fact these 3 items have been a major source of Foreign Exchange earnings for the country. Pakistani rice is famous for its quality and taste i.e. why it has been a major attraction for the buyer. Obviously, the Pakistani farmers have shown a deep interest in growing rice. However, the production of rice has not kept pace with the increasing demand earlier the world over.

Wheat, sugarcane, onion , chilies are important food crops. Dates, mango, banana , Guava and lemons are important fruit crops. The export policy of the government in this regard has also not been very conducive. Our diplomatic missions abroad have also not been helpful in this regard. It has been reported that the Indian merchants are selling Pakistani rice under their brand names thereby earning good name at the cost of Pakistan. It is therefore highly desirable that the government of Pakistan takes a serious notice of the situation and takes necessary corrective measures at the earliest. Pakistani mango is also an important foreign currency earning food crop. It is relished and demanded all over the world due to its unique flavor and dietary as well as medicinal importance. Mango is nutritionally rich in carbohydrates and vitamins A and C. Raw green Fruit is an effective antedote for mild sun stroke. The fruit is also popularly used in pickles as well as juices. It adds flavor and taste to ice-cream which is again highly demanded. There is a big export market for Pakistani mangoes in Dubai and Iran. There are more than a 100 varieties of mangoes grown in Pakistan out of which Chausa, Dusehri, Sindhri, Siroli , Langra and Anwaratol are extremely tasty and therefore popular but unfortunately mango suffers from a number of diseases .The Powdery Mildew caused by Oidium Mangi Ferae Bert is one of the known diseases which remain highly destructive in most of the growing countries including Pakistan. In Pakistan this disease appears from January to March. Keeping in view the great export potential of Mango, it is highly desirable that the government takes immediate necessary steps to eradicate Powdery Mildew so as to boost up exports of this potential agricultural product. There is a great scope to export these mango varieties to Europe and Singapore.

Pakistani apple is also a great export product of Pakistan. It has also been a major source of Foreign Exchange earnings. However, due to neglect and lack of proper attention the yield/acre is still not satisfactory. Agricultural Researches in this regard have also not been very promising. Quality Control measures are also lacking .The marketing strategy also requires an innovative and scientific approach. Improved agricultural practices coupled with a well thought out export policies may bear good fruits. Pakistani Guava has a pleasant flavor. So, there's a great scope for it in the international market , if packaged well. Pakistan also has a good scope of exporting green chilies and red chilies powder the whole year. There is a great scope of exporting chilies to USA, European countries, Gulf and the Far East. Onion, the pink queen has a great demand and can fetch a good price from Srilanka, Mauritius and Singapore. Sugarcane has also a great potential abroad because of its unavailability in the foreign markets. It can be chewed, used in the manufacture of gur , shakar , and above all sugar. Sugarcane wax obtained from filter-cake is used in the manufacture of shoe polish.

In the Gulf countries there is a great demand for Pakistani rice. Saudi Arabia is another big market. If more units are installed in Sindh and Punjab, rice export can be increased.

Pakistan produces a slew of fruits, vegetables and flowers in great quantity. All these have a good potential in international markets. Citrus, Mango, Banana, Dates and Guava are main fruits available for export. Proper processing and storage can multiply the returns form exporting these products.

The Ministry of food and agricultural needs to carry out a broad based strategy to boost agricultural productivity which in turn would fetch a huge amount of Foreign Exchange by raising export targets.

Growth rate for agricultural produce and resultantly the exports would improve if suitable policies are geared towards enhancing productivity, innovative and bold export strategies and also required to be adopted for boosting exports of other fruits for which a huge market exists. The Commercial sections of our diplomatic missions abroad also need to be awakened from their deep slumber.

A separate monitoring section in recommended to be established in the ministry of Foreign affairs, activities of which need to be supervised in collaboration with the Ministry of commerce and Export Promotion Bureau. The Export Promotion Bureau is also required to be activated and made target-oriented. As a matter of fact the whole export scenario has to be re-studied followed by a restructuring of the export policies and strategies latest and most innovative techniques need not to be applied in raising the yield/acre of all commercial crops particularly those of which have a great export potential.