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Balochistan’s food and agriculture resources: a benefit to real GDP

There is a lot of potential for development in the agriculture livestock and dairy sectors, as Balochistan can earn a substantial amount of income by exporting the products in these sectors to the lucrative markets in the food deficit region — Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Balochistan provides greater opportunities for trade and commerce to all countries of the region by virtue of its strategic location. It has tremendous potential for development of horticulture, particularly the fruit farms. The land along coastal belt has enormous potential for development of shrimp farming and processing projects, which can play a vital role in fisheries development in the province. For its huge mineral potential, the province is known as museum of minerals. As a regional hub of trade and commercial activity, Gwadar port can provide a solid base for the economic progress of the province. There is need to exploit huge export potential in main sectors of provincial economy.

The province is known as the fruit basket of Pakistan because of its production of high-quality fruits in bulk. Export of fruits is considered a big source of foreign exchange. Pakistan enjoys robust position in world apple market. It is worth mentioning that a very good quality apple are available in Pakistan, 80 percent of which are produced in Balochistan, but unfortunately no treatment plant for their preservation was established by the successive governments in the past. The strategically located province offers access to new resources and markets and the prospect of more rapid growth. The province’s geo-strategic location makes it the most attractive for transit traffic to the landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs). Gwadar port would provide Afghanistan and the CARs the shortest and fastest access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. The positive steps to increase fruit production and export from the province will increase the country’s foreign exchange reserves. The treatment plants serve the purpose of fruit preservation during off-season. The country will earn huge foreign exchange if these plants are established at different districts in coastal Balochistan.

Animals are traditionally kept for meeting household milk and meat needs. Livestock development is linked with poverty alleviation in the province, as its 70 percent population is directly or indirectly involved in livestock rearing activities. The province is rich in livestock resources contributing about 40 percent of Pakistan’s total livestock population. The main consumers of its livestock include leather, carpet and pharmaceutical industries. The province caters to the needs and demands of leather and carpet industries by sustaining the supply of hide and wool to these sectors.

Livestock contributes Rs20 billion with share of meat 40%, milk 35%, eggs 13%, skin, hides & wool 10% and others 2%. The province annually produces 28000 tons of beef and 204,000 tons of mutton. Ironically, the provincial government allocates a nominal amount for the development of this sector, which is the primary sustainable source of living for over 70 percent of local population.

 

Role of private sector

There are several companies and organizations which are taking lead in training in order to develop the immense potential in food and agriculture sector in Balochistan.

Balochistan Rural Support Program (BRSP) is implementing Balochistan Community Development Program, an EU-funded EUR 7 million project in 40 union councils (UCs) of four target districts in the province. The program focuses on the social mobilization of communities, rehabilitating and building community social infrastructure and strengthening the capacity of the local government to plan and supervise inclusive development. It seeks to impart skills to engage with government so that local people can realize a wider participation in the national development processes. The overall objective of the program is to support the government in reducing the negative impact of economic deprivation, poverty and social inequality, and to turn this into opportunities to build and empower resilient communities that participate actively in development activities.

Presently, the Star Farm is offering the skills development program for the training of the people of Balochistan through different local NGOs and private companies, who are willing to acquire our services in different vocational program in 2016-2017. The main objective of the vocational training proposal is to promote income generation and employment opportunities of the target population in rural areas. The training will also improve access to vocational training for rural residents of all areas in the program by bringing training opportunities closer to their homes. Star Farm Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd. is a Metro Group owned Company. It is a consultancy firm providing consultancy for agriculture stakeholders like growers, processors, traders, logistic bodies and involved in the on-site training, capacity building and implementation of the respective standards. Star Farm is also recognized for the productivity enhancement of agri commodities, like crops, fruits, vegetables, livestock, diary and the integrated. The company started operations in 2011 in Pakistan. The company earned a good name due to its professionally equipped staff, who have been trained from China with a vigorous training. The company has trained over 150 government employees (100 Agri/50 Livestock) and 150 private employees. It has provided consultation to more than 55 agro/food suppliers and after getting training from the company, 20 farm bases have achieved Global GAP Certifications and 8 companies have achieved IFS Certifications.

In 2013, international marketing specialist of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) sent a group of farmers, experts and government officials from Balochistan to Australia in order to educate over 20,000 local farmers in the province about latest agricultural techniques. The farmers were selected for the project on the criteria of their ability to pass on the knowledge gained to their communities from different districts of the province. The provincial livestock department also benefited from this training experience. The FAO Balochistan Agri Business Program, funded by the Australian Government is currently working in 6 districts of Balochistan. Since 2012 the project has been working on water resources management, community mobilization, marketing, crop production, livestock and female income generating activities. Farmers Field Schools were introduced as extension approach and for training and knowledge development in Balochistan. Following the pattern of initial establishment and consolidation of Community Organisations (COs), and movement towards economic activities, 29 farmers marketing collectives have now been formed in the six districts.

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