Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pakistan Leads South Asia in Agriculture Value Addition

Livestock revolution enabled Pakistan to significantly raise agriculture productivity and rural incomes in 1980s. Economic activity in dairy, meat and poultry sectors now accounts for just over 50% of the nation's total agricultural output. The result is that per capita value added to agriculture in Pakistan is almost twice as much as that in Bangladesh and India.

Adding value is the process of changing or transforming a product from its original state to a more valuable state, according to Professor Mike Boland of Kansas State University. The professor explains how it applies to agriculture as follows:

"Many raw commodities have intrinsic value in their original state. For example, field corn grown, harvested and stored on a farm and then fed to livestock on that farm has value. In fact, value usually is added by feeding it to an animal, which transforms the corn into animal protein or meat. The value of a changed product is added value, such as processing wheat into flour. It is important to identify the value-added activities that will support the necessary investment in research, processing and marketing. The application of biotechnology, the engineering of food from raw products to the consumers and the restructuring of the distribution system to and from the producer all provide opportunities for adding value."

Although Pakistan's value added to agriculture is high for its region, it has been essentially flat since mid-1990s. It also lags significantly behind developing countries in other parts of the world. For example, per capita worker productivity in North Africa and the Middle East is more than twice that of Pakistan while in Latin America it is more than three times higher.

Agriculture Value Added Per Capita in Constant 2000 US$--Source: World Bank
There are lots of opportunities for Pakistan to reach the levels of value addition already achieved in Middle East, North Africa and Latin America.These range from building infrastructure to reduce losses to fuller utilization of animals and crops for producing valuable products.  Value addition through infrastructure development includes storage and transportation facilities for crops, dairy and meat to cut spoilage. Other opportunities to add value include better processing of  sugarcane waste, rice bran, animal hides and bones, hot treatment, grading and packaging of fruits, vegetables and fish, etc.

Agriculture Value Added Per Capita in South Asia, North Africa and Latin America--Source: World Bank
Pakistan's growing middle class has increased demand for dairy, meat and various branded and processed food products. Engro, Nestle, Unilever and other food giants are working with family farms and supermarket chains like Makro, Hyperstar and Metro Cash and Carry to respond to it by setting up modern supply chains.

Growth of value added agriculture in Pakistan has helped the nation's rural economy. It has raised incomes and reduced rural poverty by creating more higher wage jobs. It has had a salutary effect on the lives of the rural poor in terms of their ability to afford better healthcare, nutrition and education. Doing more to promote value added agriculture can accelerate such improvements for the majority of Pakistanis who engage in agriculture and textiles and still live in rural areas.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Most Indians and Pakistanis Employed in Agriculture and Textiles

Pakistan Among Top Meat and Dairy Consuming Nations

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Comparing Pakistan and Bangladesh

FMCG Boom in Pakistan

Agricultural Growth in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Pakistan's Rural Economic Survey

Pakistan's KSE Outperforms BRIC Exchanges in 2010

High Cost of Failure to Aid Flood Victims

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance

India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2010

Pakistan's Decade 1999-2009

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

World Bank Report on Rural Poverty in Pakistan

USAID Report on Pakistan Food & Agriculture

Copper, Gold Deposits Worth $500 Billion at Reko Diq, Pakistan

China's Trade and Investment in South Asia

India's Twin Deficits

Pakistan's Economy 2008-2010

31 comments:

Naveen said...

Wrong. Its Maldives.
that leads South Asia by miles.

Riaz Haq said...

Naveen: "Wrong. Its Maldives.
that leads South Asia by miles."

Yes, Maldives is an outlier in value added agriculture. But it's a tiny island nation(just $2b gdp) compared to big South Asian nations.

Anonymous said...

Are there only 3 countries in South Asia?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Are there only 3 countries in South Asia?"

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are the three largest countries in South Asia. Others are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Only Maldives has higher value added agriculture than Pakistan but it's a tiny island nation with gdp of just $2 billion.

HopeWins Junior said...

Agricultural output in South-Asia has been directly linked to the massive increase in irrigation of Greater Punjab that was generously financed by the US in the 60s (the Bread Basket theory).

So you should compare Indian Punjab to our Punjab. That would give you a better idea of how the two sides are doing.

Our Punjab is 60% of our 180M population. Their Punjab is only 4% of their 1200M population. So comparing India to our country in agricultural output makes little sense.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "So you should compare Indian Punjab to our Punjab. That would give you a better idea of how the two sides are doing."

Do you have value added agriculture figures for Indian Punjab. Please do share if you do.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a book review of "How Asia Works" by Amb Maleeha Lodhi published in The News:

An important new book explains why some countries have become economic tigers in East Asia while others are relative failures or paper tigers. ‘How Asia Works’ by Joe Studwell is a bold and insightful work that is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the ingredients for economic success in this continent.

It challenges much conventional wisdom in the development debate. Most significantly the book questions key tenets of the so-called Washington consensus, which prescribes free market ‘solutions’ for all economies regardless of their level of development. Studwell establishes that a nation’s development destiny is shaped most decisively by government action and policies. History, writes the author, shows that markets are created, shaped and re-shaped by political power.

---------------

At the very outset, Studwell identifies three critical interventions that successful east-Asian countries and China (after 1978) employed to achieve accelerated economic development. The first, “often ignored”, and now “off the political agenda” in developing countries, is land reform. This restructured agriculture into highly labour-intensive household farming. In the early phase of development, with the necessary institutional support, this helped to generate a surplus, create markets and unlock great social mobility.

The second intervention, as countries cannot sustain growth only on agriculture and must transition to the next phase, is to direct entrepreneurs and investment to industrial manufacturing. Manufacturing allows for trade and technology learning. And trade, says the author, is essential for rapid economic development. Studwell then demonstrates – while challenging the champions of free trade – how nurturing and protection, along with instituting “export discipline”, builds the capacity to compete globally. Manufacturing policy is a key determinant of success he says, as an infant industry strategy offers the quickest route to restructuring the economy towards more value-added activities.

Holding that development is quintessentially a political undertaking, the author sees the relationship between the state and private entrepreneurs as a critical variable. History, he writes, teaches that governments should not run everything themselves. But governments have to use their power and the right policy tools to make private entrepreneurs do what industrial development requires.

The third intervention necessary for accelerated development is in the financial sector, aimed at directing capital initially to intensive, small scale agriculture and to manufacturing rather than services. Studwell argues persuasively that it was the close alignment of finance with agriculture and industrial policy objectives that produced north-east Asia’s economic success.

Detailing the role of financial policy, he illustrates how premature bank deregulation exacted a high price in Thailand and Indonesia. China, on the other hand, and other north-east Asian countries resisted that, instead using financial management to serve development needs and an accelerated economic learning process.



http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-211468-Asian-tigers-and-paper-tigers

Anonymous said...

Riaz, India may well be facing huge problems in its agricultural production. Education has made agricultural work unattractive for many rural youth. Tracts of fertile land are untended due to very high labor costs; the threat of usurpation if land is leased out to tenants. Lots of agricultural land is left untended with the view to selling it to real estate developers.
Unplanned urban and industrial expansion into fertile agro zones - as in Mumbai and Bengaluru (Bangalore) for example, has seen the loss of thousands of hectares of paddy fields, coconut and mango groves, for example.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Education has made agricultural work unattractive for many rural youth. Tracts of fertile land are untended due to very high labor costs"

Agriculture and textiles are the largest employers in both India and Pakistan.

About 60% of India's and 42% of Pakistan's labor force are engaged in agriculture, according to World Bank.

About 60% of India's workforce is in agriculture. Textile industry is the second biggest employer, accounting for a fifth of India’s exports, and employs almost 10 percent of India’s workforce, or some 35 million people, and has the potential to add another 12 million new jobs --dwarfing the 1-2 million jobs created by the much-heralded IT and BPO sector, according to a World Bank report.

Agriculture in Pakistan accounts for 19.4% of GDP and 42% of labor force, followed by services providing 53.4% of GDP and 38% employment, with the remainder 27.2% of GDP and 20% workers in manufacturing sector. Over half of Pakistan's manufacturing jobs are in the textile sector, making it the second biggest employer after agriculture.

The dire situation in India's agriculture sector has been epitomized by over 200,000 farmers' suicides in the last decade. And the rising Indian rupee is now hurting India's textile sector by making its exports more expensive in the world market.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/10/agriculture-andtextiles-employ-most.html

Anonymous said...

And the rising Indian rupee is now hurting India's textile sector by making its exports more expensive in the world market.

A bit out of date.The rupee is currently near alltime lows 63 to the USD and exports are booming.

PAkistan OTOH has not had an export boom with its much less valued PKR .Why is that?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "PAkistan OTOH has not had an export boom with its much less valued PKR .Why is that?"

Indian exports boom has helped only a small fraction of India's population employed in IT and manufacturing sector.

http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/economics/what-are-the-different-compositions-of-exports/2685/

Most of the Indian exports increase has been in non-textile sectors which employ a lot fewer people than textiles.

Pakistani exports have more than tripled from $8.5 billion in 2000 to $26 billion in 2012.

http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=pk&v=85

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Riaz, India may well be facing huge problems in its agricultural production. Education has made agricultural work unattractive for many rural youth. Tracts of fertile land are untended due to very high labor costs; the threat of usurpation if land is leased out to tenants. Lots of agricultural land is left untended with the view to selling it to real estate developers.
Unplanned urban and industrial expansion into fertile agro zones - as in Mumbai and Bengaluru (Bangalore) for example, has seen the loss of thousands of hectares of paddy fields, coconut and mango groves, for example.

November 16, 2013 at 12:23 AM
---------------------------------

And India also faces an alarming reduction in freshwater supplies.
Sewage discharge into rivers and the dumping of industrial effluents into same even by so called blue chip companies.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on educating Pakistani workers on value added agriculture:

The scope of corporate farming in Pakistan is growing, showing even greater potential for this sector in the coming years, mainly due to product diversification from many local and multinationals in food, beverages and dairy segments. But are the human resources of Pakistan related to this particular sector ready to convert threats in to opportunities, in terms of technology, innovation, researches.
For local companies and corporate farmers, finding such human resources might be a little tough, unlike multinationals which can rely on the transfer of knowledge from their global headquarters. Take for example the recent diversifications in the juices and dairy sectors in the past few years, from local and multinational consumer goods and food companies. Although these companies are now making profits, they are perturbed by the increasing gap of knowledge and human resources.
A few universities and government/NGO-supported institutions are working in this sector, providing basic and slightly advanced education and field training to students and farmers.
“There are basically two groups at the business level in this sector, corporate farmers who don’t know how to improve productivity and make greater financial gains; and those who know about business but don’t know much about practical farming,” said Magdi Batato, Nestle Pakistan’s Managing Director, while talking with The Express Tribune. Pakistan as an agrarian economy needs to develop a class of professionals educated and trained in the relevant discipline, he added.
One such initiative however has already been taken by Lahore university of Management Sciences (Lums) with collaborations of Nestle Pakistan. Economic development, poverty alleviation, enhancing productivity, managing supply chain issues, and research for further innovations through agribusiness is what the market wants. The success of the initiative taken by Lums and Nestle might force other business schools to introduce similar or more up to date courses.
“Such courses/certifications will have a cascading effect on the market as more entrepreneurs will be formed which will deliver much better then now”, said Doctor Arif Nazir Butt, Dean Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lums.
Companies related to dairy segments like Nestle, Engro Foods, Haleeb Foods are all contributing positively in rural economy by involving local dairy farmers in their network. Many locals have started successful modern dairy farming, JDW dairies among which is a prominent example.
Companies have now started projects of modern orchard farms for their survival. This once again is providing opportunities for locals to start modern orchard and tunnel farming. This portfolio would benefit low line farmers in future in terms of technical assistance, education, innovation, though the high price factor which the end consumer will pay to buy such products, as in case of dairy segment, is another story.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/663433/agri-business-educating-executives-key-towards-growth/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on growth of beekeeping industry in Pakistan's Potohar region:

Battered by erratic weather patterns with decreasing and delayed rainfall, thousands of farmers in Pakistan’s northeast Potohar plateau are moving to beekeeping as an alternative source of livelihood that is less vulnerable to climate change.

A single flood, no or deficient rain in one cropping season, or lack of water in the river system due to delayed glacial melt can ruin farmers’ livelihoods. “However, training farmers in alternative climate-resilient livelihoods like beekeeping can go a long way in making farming communities resilient to climate change impacts,” said Dr. Zafar Iqbal, former chairperson of the National Disaster Management Authority, in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.

The fact that many farmers find beekeeping a more profitable alternative and therefore reduce farming or completely shun it has its own impact on food security. But it helped many households survive in Potohar – a sprawling region between the Indus and the Jhelum rivers and stretching up to the foothills of the Himalayas. Around 70 per cent of rain in the region is received between July and August.

“Because of erratic weather patterns and unreliable crop harvests, our income had become irregular and was declining. But the beehives give us regular income,” said Hakim Khan, a beekeeper in Ghool village of Chakwal district, about 90 kilometres southeast of Islamabad.

The district — one of the four in Potohar along with Attock, Rawalpindi and Jhelum – is known for its exportable quality of groundnuts and stretches over 6,500 square kilometres of semi-arid terrain. It has a population of nearly 1.5 million and relies entirely on the rains for cultivation of crops.

It was known as an area for abundant rain. However, the situation has changed over the years. Until 1998, it would receive around 1,200 millometres rainfall annually. This has come down to less than 900 millometres, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
----------
In this scenario, beekeeping has been a saviour for many families in the area. Hakim Khan from Ghool, for instance, survived the poor harvest by taking to beekeeping. He also continues to grow groundnut.

“The additional income from beekeeping has helped me survive crop losses. I adopted beekeeping three years ago to cover up income losses from the groundnut crop,” Khan said while examining the wooden bee boxes on a plot adjacent to his groundnut field.

He was amongst the lucky ones trained in beekeeping — producing honey, hives and wax — by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) under the Drought Mitigation and Preparedness Project. Farmers in various villages of Chakwal district have also been provided with financial aid.

In a ripple effect, Khan has taught other farmers about beekeeping and its benefits. “I learnt about the economic benefits of less labour and investment (in beekeeping)… Now, more and more farmers are approaching to me to learn about beekeeping,” he told thethirdpole.net.

Citing an example, he said a groundnut farmer-turned-beekeeper who purchased 10 wooden boxes of hives for Pakistani Rs.34,000 (about US$347) three years ago now has 90 boxes worth Pakistani Rs.1,020,000 (about US$10,400).


http://www.eco-business.com/news/pakistans-farmers-counter-climate-change-beekeeping/

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has launched a state-of-the-art system to help farmers calculate their crop losses to extreme weather more accurately and support the government in tackling hunger and malnutrition.

Late last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) installed the geospatial crop forecasting system at the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) to improve the quality of agricultural statistics.

Muhammad Bashir, a 45-year-old farmer in the Narowal district of Punjab province, lost 12 acres (4.9 hectares) of his rice crop when it was washed away by flash floods in September.

"Erratic weather and flash floods hit our crops each year but there is no mechanism in place to get early warning and ascertain the exact loss," said Bashir, who owns 73 acres (29.5 hectares) of land.

Growers in flood-prone areas cannot earn enough to cover their outgoings because of regular disasters, and most even fail to repay bank loans due to crop damage, he said by telephone.

"If we get data on our crop yields and weather conditions well in advance, we can prepare a good budget for educating our children," he said. The government should introduce modern technology for the farming business, he suggested.

Pakistan's agriculture sector contributes a fifth of gross domestic product and generates work for just under half the country's labour force, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2013-14.

The recent floods damaged standing crops on 978,363 hectares (2.4 million acres) while estimates by government ministries and experts put losses to the economy at $14-15 million.

CHEAPER, BETTER DATA

Faisal Syed, project facilitator at the FAO, said the new geospatial system would help both the government and farmers get accurate and timely data on crop yields and expected losses in the case of natural disasters like floods and droughts.

Under the system, funded by the U.S. government, SUPARCO uses Satellite Remote Sensing (SRS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies to gather crop data.

Satellite imagery is taken twice a year, while field surveys are conducted during two cropping seasons in spring and autumn. SUPARCO then uses statistical models to estimate yields.

"The geospatial system will replace the archaic manual method of crop forecasting and help decrease costs of data collection," said Syed.

The system will initially cover only two provinces of Pakistan: Punjab and Sindh.

Floods wash away standing crops on millions of hectares each year in Pakistan, but the government has always lacked precise data on the damage to crops and yields, Syed added.

"A government cannot formulate cogent policies to address the issues of food security and malnutrition in the affected areas if it doesn't have proper data," he said.

---------

Ibrahim Mughal, chairman of Agri Forum Pakistan, a body representing Pakistani farmers, said the federal and provincial governments set unrealistic targets for crop production each year so as to paint a positive picture of agriculture - which ultimately hurts the interests of growers.

The Crop Reporting Services department should be independent so it can adopt the geospatial system and relay accurate information to farmers free from government influence, he said.

"As long as the officers remain under pressure from the government, they cannot make public real data on the targets set for a crop and the expected yield," he said.

Political will should be focused rather on dealing with food security, malnutrition and erratic weather impacts, he said.

Mughal suggested the Punjab and Sindh governments should send crop data and weather forecasts to farmers each week via mobile phone to maximise the impact of the new system.

http://www.trust.org/item/20141128083628-mk8y3/?source=fiInDepth

Riaz Haq said...

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved Phase Two of the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) FEEDing Pakistan program to further develop Pakistan’s aquaculture sector and its use of feeds made from U.S. soy.

The additional one-year of funding allows WISHH to create even more demand for soy-based feeds, building upon the success of local fish farmers as well as private investment by the Pakistani feed industry.

“USDA support of FEEDing Pakistan boosts the growing soy-based feed industry in Pakistan, which has the sixth largest population in the world,” said WISHH Vice Chairman Lucas Heinen, a Kansas soybean grower. “WISHH’s strategy complements the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s work as Pakistan’s poultry industry now buys U.S. soybean meal and processing industry leaders import U.S. soybeans.”

Launched in 2011, WISHH’s FEEDing Pakistan has assisted approximately 2,000 Pakistani fish farmers and helped increase the market value of fish produced—tilapia—from zero at the beginning of the project to an estimated 450 mill rupees ($4.5 million USD) in 2014.

Photo: ASA WISHH’s FEEDing Pakistan project develops Pakistan’s aquaculture sector and its use of feeds made with soy. A 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture Report projected a 525 percent increase in aquaculture production in Pakistan and a complementary increase in the demand for fish feed between 2012 and 2022.

FEEDing Pakistan tilapia averaged 600 grams per fish–double the weight of traditional Pakistan fish harvests.

“Pakistani fish farmers had never seen such results,” said R.S.N. Janjua, who leads the project as ASA/WISHH Country Representative. “The tilapia received a premium in the local market place and increased enthusiasm for further development of Pakistan’s aquaculture industry with soy-based fish feeds.

“Phase One of FEEDING Pakistan also demonstrated that Pakistan’s fish farmers, academics, private sector, and government officials are ready to help aquaculture fill the protein gap in Pakistan where 44 percent of children under the age of five experience stunting,” Janjua added.

The Kansas Soybean Commission supported WISHH’s Phase One work in Pakistan. Kansas State University conducted training courses on fish feed manufacturing and best management practices. A trainee and co-owner of a Pakistani company learned about potential for growth in the aquaculture industry. As a result, he ordered feed extrusion equipment from Extru-Tech International of Sabetha, Kansas and formally inaugurated Pakistan’s first extruder for the production of floating fish feed in July 2013. USDA’s funding allowed WISHH to ship 25 metric tons of U.S. hi-protein soybean meal, which jump-started the floating fish feed manufacturing.

A 2013 USDA Global Agricultural Information Network report projected a 525 percent increase in aquaculture production in Pakistan and a complementary increase in the demand for fish feed. Aquaculture production would increase from 120,000 tons in 2012 to 750,000 tons in 2022. The demand for fish feed will increase from 210,000 tons to 1.3 million tons, and soybean meal demand from 42,000 tons to 260,000 tons.

Phase Two will allow WISHH to provide additional training to improve feed management and increase feed production as well as feed demand, largely in Punjab and Sindh. Training will reach both large-holder farmers with 20-200 acres of ponds as well as farmers with 1-2 acres. WISHH will also assist the private sector that is interested in expanding feed manufacturing.

http://m.kmaland.com/ag/usda-funds-phase-of-asa-wishh-s-feeding-pakistan/article_ecc5cdb8-1511-11e5-9ddc-ab529a6ab095.html

Riaz Haq said...

#MIT and #Harvard Graduates Helping #Pakistan Farmers Make Big Money! http://pixr8.com/ricult/

Ricult is an endeavor by a US-based start-up founded by 4 MIT and 1 Harvard graduates. They help smallholder farmers (< 10 acres holding) reduce information asymmetry and work their way out of poverty to become more impactful economic actors. At the heart of their concept is a virtual marketplace which allows farmers to procure agriculture inputs (seed, fertilizers, pesticides etc.), access interest-free/low interest based loans transparently and sell their produce directly to buyers (processing plants, corporate organizations etc.) directly from the Ricult marketplace.



Founders

Usman Javaid, (CEO) is an MIT alumnus with 15 years of experience in Telecom, Mobile Banking, Mobile Agriculture in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Jonathan Stoller, the CTO pursued his Masters in Computer Science from MIT and worked for 4 years with Google, Microsoft, Dow Jones. Aukrit Unahalekhaka handles the product at Ricult is also an MIT alumnus belongs to a family of farmers in Thailand. He worked with Accenture & Cisco in the US before taking the entrepreneurial plunge. Philip Huppe who takes care of Social Development is a Harvard alumnus. He worked with World Relief, Palo Alto Networks, and Accenture before joining hands with MIT alumni to start-up!



PROCESS STORY:

Their first pilot for 400 farmers is underway in Kasur area of Pakistan, where they have signed up leading agriculture organizations to supply products on the Ricult Marketplace. “The idea is to validate certain hypotheses regarding technology adoption, impact on farm profitability, technology sustainability and the reaction of local middlemen. Based on the results of the pilot, we plan to commercially launch in Pakistan, followed by China, Thailand, and Slovenia,” says the Harvard graduate.

The marketplace connects farmers to farm input sellers; farm produce buyers, bank creditors, insurers, vetinary services, farm advisory services and everything that can help them have better farming results. “But this is not just a marketplace for farmers. We believe in building strong relationships with our local farmers and ensuring that they have easy access to bigger markets, quality products, enhanced profitability and hence a better future,” says Usman.
We asked the founders if they doubted what they were doing, and they said, “Oh yes, many times you have doubts about what you are doing. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of emotions – it’s not for the weak hearted nor is it for the people who are impatient for results. You have to bide your time, one step at a time and take each day as it comes.”

All the co-founders started up with a passion for solving difficult social problems through the use of technology. “This is how all of us came together and this is what binds us as a team. We like solving hard but real problems that would make the world a better place,” says Usman. They are partnering with various multinational and local organizations to facilitate the growth of Ricult. Currently a team of 10 people, the start-up is not funded.

As a message for future entrepreneurs, Jonathan says, “Live your passion and your dreams. Be focused and consistent, and you will reach your destination.”

Riaz Haq said...

Over 300 #US dairy cows worth $700K exported to #Sialkot #Pakistan by Boeing 747 flight from #Miami on March 1, 2016 http://www.bradenton.com/news/business/article64983542.html …

Renee Strickland opened the door to U.S. cattle exports to Pakistan when she chartered a Boeing 747 and flew with 302 dairy cattle to Sialkot, Pakistan, on March 1.

The long flight was the easy part. It came after five years of frustration, planning, perseverance and negotiation.

"This was a real nail biter. We had three weeks to put this shipment together, and I got my passport at midnight, three hours before the departure to Pakistan," she said.

"It was a pressure-cooker experience," Strickland said, recalling how she brokered the sale and gathered cattle from Okeechobee dairies, north Florida and Kansas.

She could only wrangle those cattle after getting clearance from the U.S. and Pakistani governments, securing a health protocol, overcoming the language barrier and closing the deal with tough negotiators in Pakistan.

"A lot of times, I just kind of thought, my gosh, I am knocking my head against a brick wall," Strickland said.

Even so, Strickland said a lot of people "jumped through hoops to make this happen," citing her partners in Pakistan and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"I have a well-respected partner in Pakistan whose family has been in agriculture for 500 years. He is a gentleman, a good person and well respected," she said.

Dix Harrell of the USDA said the beef export market to Pakistan and many other countries closed after the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad cow disease, in the United States.

Mad cow disease can have an incubation period as long as eight years.

"I know that in the last 10 years, the market wasn't really open to us," Harrell said. "After we had our first case, a lot of countries banned live cattle."

Strickland always flies with the cattle she brokers in sales to ensure no animal is hurt or stressed.

"The cattle traveled great and the unloading went smoothly," she said.

She has previously brokered and delivered cattle to Cuba, Oman, Trinidad and Tobago, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Guyana and Ecuador.

Pakistan is an attractive market because, with 182.1 million people, it has one of the world's largest populations. In addition, Pakistan is one of the world's largest dairy producers, ranking fifth globally in milk production.

As recently as 1986, buffalo produced most of the milk in Pakistan. Pakistani dairies, however, have been improving their cattle herds and dairy cows are now the dominant producers.

"We are known to have some of the best milking cattle in the world," Strickland said of the attractiveness of U.S. stock.

The Pakistani deal was valued at about $700,000.

"They are getting one heck of a deal," Strickland said, noting she had to sharpen her pencil in dealing with Pakistani buyers. "We are trying to open up this market. It's the most challenging export I have ever had in so many ways."

Renee Strickland, and her husband, Jim Strickland, are preparing a second airborne delivery of cattle to Pakistan for the first week of April. Jim Strickland will be the one handling escort duties next time.

While in Pakistan, Renee Strickland, an avid polo player, got to visit the Lahore Polo Club.

"I will be sending some polo ponies on my next shipment. Polo is a huge sport in that country," she said.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/news/business/article64983542.html#storylink=cpy

Riaz Haq said...

PARC approves 16 projects worth Rs1.2bn
http://www.dawn.com/news/1296963/parc-approves-16-projects-worth-rs12bn

The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has approved 16 research projects with a total budget of Rs1.2 billion for 2016-17.

In addition, the PARC board of governors approved Rs194 million for projects under international cooperation and Rs183m for Agriculture Linkage Programme (ALP).

Talking to Dawn on Thursday, National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) Director General, Dr Mohammad Azeem Khan said a hybrid seed processing plant will be set up at the NARC with a view to provide clean, treated and high quality seeds to farmers.

He said agricultural research facilities are now being extended to tribal agencies, particularly Waziristan.

The Arid Zone Research Institute in Dera Ismail Khan will also be expanded at the same time, he said.

Under a project, pesticides residue analysis laboratories will be set up in all parts of the country. These laboratories will cover food chains, health, and environment and production technology with a view to pursue international standards.

According to Dr Azeem, three projects will be set up in Balochistan covering horticulture and livestock.

The NARC is also developing a mechanism for the establishment of demonstration units of yogurt under public-private partnership (PPP).

The PARC has recently recommended 14 rice hybrids for different ecologies, two wheat varieties: ‘Borlaug 2016’ and ‘Zincol 2016’, two sugarcane varieties: ‘Thatta 2109’ and ‘Thatta 326’, working on commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) crops, and bioremediation on 86 sites full scale wastewater treatment facilities through Pakistan.

The performance of various PARC projects — including mobile veterinary clinic services, feed technology unit, high eggs and meat producing chicks, ostrich breeding facilities, American channel catfish hatchery at NARC, Tilapia hatchery and aqua feed production to promote intensive fish culture in the country — was also reviewed by the board of governors at a meeting.

Riaz Haq said...

Why #monsoon matters so much for #India - 66% pop are #farmers. 60% of land rain dependent http://Moneycontrol.com

http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/economy/heres-why-the-monsoon-matters-so-much-for-india-2260505.html

Despite big strides in industry and services, two-thirds of Indians depend on farm-based income. Nearly 60 percent of the country’s farms lack irrigation facilities, leaving millions of farmers dependent on the rains.

The monsoon is critical to replenish 81 reservoirs necessary for power generation, irrigation and drinking. About half of India's farm output comes from summer sown kharif crops such as rice, sugar, cotton, coarse cereals.

The monsoon also refills 81 nationally monitored water reservoirs crucial for supply of drinking, power and irrigation water supply.

The June-September monsoon is likely to be 96 percent of the long-period average, the Met department said on Tuesday, a forecast that will be cheered by millions of farmers and the government alike.

The south-west monsoon, besides bringing relief from a blazing summer, serves as the lifeblood for the critical summer-sown kharif crop. Here's why the monsoon matters so much for India:

What is monsoon?

It is essentially a shift in the prevailing wind patterns. Drafts of breeze from the south Pacific travel northwards, carrying moisture along the way. It traverses nearly 8,000 km before reaching the Asian land mass, resulting in rainfall and offering respite from a sweltering summer.

How is it distributed across India?

Kerala is the south-west monsoon’s first port of landfall in mainland India. It arrives in Kerala in the first of week of June, having covered Andaman and Nicobar islands a week before. After hitting Kerala, it breaks out into two branches: one over the Bay of Bengal and the other over the Arabian sea. In a normal year, it covers the entire country in a month. It hits Maharashtra around June 15 and Delhi around June 29 before travelling further north-west.
Is monsoon essentially an Asian phenomenon?

No. Monsoons happen in the world’s other regions too such as Europe, Chile, Africa and North America.

How is the monsoon’s progress recorded?

Satellite images now allow weather scientists to fairly monitor monsoon’s course and quantum. According to the Met’s classification, the monsoon is considered normal if rains are between 96-104 percent of the 50-year average rainfall of 89 cms. The monsoon is taken to be below normal if rains are between 90–96 percent. If less than 90, it is considered deficient.

Why is the monsoon so important for India?

Despite big strides in industry and services, two-thirds of Indians depend on farm-based income. Nearly 60 percent of the country’s farms lack irrigation facilities, leaving millions of farmers dependent on the rains.

The monsoon is critical to replenish 81 reservoirs necessary for power generation, irrigation and drinking. About half of India's farm output comes from summer sown kharif crops such as rice, sugar, cotton, coarse cereals.

The monsoon also refills 81 nationally monitored water reservoirs crucial for supply of drinking, power and irrigation water supply.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Monsoon Concerns Are More Evidence That India Is Still A #Poor #Agricultural Country via @forbes

https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/04/19/indias-monsoon-concerns-are-more-evidence-that-india-is-still-a-poor-country/#755f9f043b31

The basics are that Indian agriculture is some 13% or so of GDP and that the sector employs some 50% of Indian labour. From which we can gain at least one useful lesson, that Indian agriculture is very much less productive than the other areas of the economy. By contrast American agriculture is some 1% of GDP and it employs some 1% of the population. That is, American agriculture makes about the same contribution to production as it does to the consumption of labour. That labour is therefore around and about as productive in that sector as is the average across the American economy. That India's agriculture uses much more of the labour than it produces as a share of GDP shows that it is less productive as a sector than the rest of the Indian economy.

But we can also go further than this. Basic labour intensive rainfed agriculture simply doesn't produce a lifestyle much above that of the rural peasantry. That's just because rural peasantry is what we call those living at the standard which labour intensive rainfed agriculture provides. And as long as such a large portion of the population are doing that work then the economy more generally is going to be a poor one.

One useful indicator of India becoming much richer will be when the monsoon announcements no longer interest very much. For when the rains don't affect the economy very much then obviously everyone must be doing more productive things than standing around in muddy fields.

Riaz Haq said...

Exclusive: CPEC master plan revealed

https://www.dawn.com/news/1333101


Enterprises entering agriculture will be offered extraordinary levels of assistance from the Chinese government. They are encouraged to “[m]ake the most of the free capital and loans” from various ministries of the Chinese government as well as the China Development Bank. The plan also offers to maintain a mechanism that will “help Chinese agricultural enterprises to contact the senior representatives of the Government of Pakistan and China”.
The government of China will “actively strive to utilize the national special funds as the discount interest for the loans of agricultural foreign investment”. In the longer term the financial risk will be spread out, through “new types of financing such as consortium loans, joint private equity and joint debt issuance, raise funds via multiple channels and decentralise financing risks”.

The plan proposes to harness the work of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps to bring mechanization as well as scientific technique in livestock breeding, development of hybrid varieties and precision irrigation to Pakistan. It sees its main opportunity as helping the Kashgar Prefecture, a territory within the larger Xinjiang Autonomous Zone, which suffers from a poverty incidence of 50 per cent, and large distances that make it difficult to connect to larger markets in order to promote development. The prefecture’s total output in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery amounted to just over $5 billion in 2012, and its population was less than 4 million in 2010, hardly a market with windfall gains for Pakistan.
However, for the Chinese, this is the main driving force behind investing in Pakistan’s agriculture, in addition to the many profitable opportunities that can open up for their enterprises from operating in the local market. The plan makes some reference to export of agriculture goods from the ports, but the bulk of its emphasis is focused on the opportunities for the Kashgar Prefecture and Xinjiang Production Corps, coupled with the opportunities for profitable engagement in the domestic market.
The plan discusses those engagements in considerable detail. Ten key areas for engagement are identified along with seventeen specific projects. They include the construction of one NPK fertilizer plant as a starting point “with an annual output of 800,000 tons”. Enterprises will be inducted to lease farm implements, like tractors, “efficient plant protection machinery, efficient energy saving pump equipment, precision fertilization drip irrigation equipment” and planting and harvesting machinery.


Meat processing plants in Sukkur are planned with annual output of 200,000 tons per year, and two demonstration plants processing 200,000 tons of milk per year. In crops, demonstration projects of more than 6,500 acres will be set up for high yield seeds and irrigation, mostly in Punjab. In transport and storage, the plan aims to build “a nationwide logistics network, and enlarge the warehousing and distribution network between major cities of Pakistan” with a focus on grains, vegetables and fruits. Storage bases will be built first in Islamabad and Gwadar in the first phase, then Karachi, Lahore and another in Gwadar in the second phase, and between 2026-2030, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar will each see another storage base.

Riaz Haq said...

#Swiss #agriculture #tech giant Syngenta
to invest $1.4bln in #Pakistan | Business | http://thenews.com.pk

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/207811-Syngenta-to-invest-14bln-in-Pakistan

KARACHI: Syngenta Pakistan, a Switzerland-based company, dealing in premier crop protection and the third largest seeds business, announced to support small and medium growers to take up modern ways of farming, with the primary objective to ensure food security in the country, a statement said on Wednesday.

Tina Lawton, Syngenta’s head of Asia-Pacific Region, made her first visit to Pakistan and toured Syngenta’s research and development facility near Lahore to review Syngenta’s operations and understand the Pakistan agriculture market and how to support its further development, it added. She also met Syngenta franchisees and farmers to get insight on the market; whereby, assuring them Syngenta’s commitment to Pakistan and upholding its long tradition of 50 plus years presence in the country. She also discussed the modernisation of the Naya-savera Franchise model with the use of latest pioneering technology.

Lawton said that Syngenta’s transition of new ownership to ChemChina will not affect its status as a Swiss company and it will continue to focus on long-term investment through over $1.4 billion annual investment in research and development in Pakistan, the statement said.

Lawton’s visit proved extremely fruitful and truly demonstrated the Syngenta’s commitment to improve the life of farmers. Syngenta is all geared up to transform the agriculture sector of Pakistan, making it a self-sufficient economy to meet its food requirements by bringing in new technology and products, which will cater to the needs of the ever-growing agriculture industry in Pakistan, it added.

Riaz Haq said...

Western capitalist view in Forbes: But India's Farmers Should Go Bust, That's How Economic Development Works

https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/06/11/but-indias-farmers-should-go-bust-thats-how-economic-development-works/#59d5b2ee327e

There are protests, and calls for political action, over the plight of India's farmers at present--and the one important point we've got to get across to people is that India's farmers should be going bust because that's how economic development actually happens. People stop doing low productivity things like rain fed labour intensive agriculture and go off and do more productive things like working in factories or producing services. It's entirely true that we should make the transition as painless as possible, no doubt about that, but we do not want to be preventing the change from happening because that just keeps everyone poorer than they need to be. The harsh truth is that not being able to make a living doing something is the universe's method of telling you you should be doing something else. This is as true of farming as it is of buggy whip manufacture. We are all, the people doing the labour most of all, made richer by people moving from low productivity activities to higher.

----------

The political reaction to this we understand, of course we do. Some 50% or so of Indians are involved in this low productivity agriculture and they've all got the vote. But that doesn't change the economics here, which is that we'd really very much like people to stop being farmers and go and do something else more productive.


------

India has some 50% or so of the population in that agriculture and the output has a value of some 15% or so (rough numbers) of GDP. Both what will mark out India as a rich country, and what will make it one, is when the labour and output profiles of agriculture are similar to those other rich countries. Because that's just what getting richer as a whole means. That the vast majority of the population stops standing around in muddy fields and goes off to do something more productive instead. It's not just that this is what has happened everywhere that has got rich it's that this is the very definition of a place and population getting rich.

Not being able to make a living farming is the universe's way of telling you to do something other than farming. India should smooth the transition, certainly, but not subsidise people to remain farmers.

Riaz Haq said...

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > BUSINESS
Pakistan could eat India’s share of basmati rice exports

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1456663/pakistan-eat-indias-share-basmati-rice-exports/


Pakistan could target India’s basmati rice share in the global market, a likelihood sparked by stringent policies placed by the European Union (EU) on the presence of hazardous pesticides in the commodity, said an official.

From January 1, 2018, all countries that export basmati rice to the EU must bring down the maximum residue limit (MRL) level for Tricyclazole, a pesticide, to 0.01 mg per kg. Up till now, the EU was accepting 0.03 mg per kg from different countries, including India.

The chance that Pakistan could eat up a share of India’s market comes from the fact that the country’s farmers do not use such chemicals to protect their crops.

However, Indian farmers widely use the pesticide under scrutiny and exporters fear that up to 95% of basmati shipments could take a hit by the new regulation.

Since new EU regulations could completely choke off Indian basmati exports, an Indian government delegation is leaving for Brussels this week to discuss the restrictions.

On the other hand, a Pakistani basmati exporter says this presents an opportunity to grab India’s market share, because it will at least take two cycles to reduce the consumption of Tricyclazole in the country.

“Pakistan currently exports 100,000 tons of basmati to the EU a year, which can go up to 250,000 tons per annum after EU regulations,” Matco Foods Pvt Limited Director Faizan Ali Ghori told The Express Tribune.

India, the world’s biggest exporter of basmati rice with a share of about 70%, exported 350,000 tons of basmati to the EU worth $268 million in fiscal year 2016-17.

Raising Rs1 billion from the stock market

Meanwhile, Matco Foods – one of the leading basmati rice exporters in Pakistan – is expecting to raise Rs1 billion through the Initial Public Offering (IPO) it has planned for around September this year.

The company plans to invest the proceeds in its two rice glucose plants in Karachi. Rice glucose is the main ingredient for pharmaceutical, confectionery, and juice industries.

“We want to move towards value added products to increase exports,” said Ghori.

The company exports rice to over 60 countries.

Matco’s first rice glucose with a capacity of 10,000 tons per annum is being commissioned in Karachi at an investment of Rs350 million. The other factory will have a capacity of 20,000 tons that will be set up in the next one to two years.

The company will prefer international markets as it expects to fetch as much as $11,000 per ton against a price range of just $400-$500 per ton in the domestic market, Ghori said, adding that there is a growing demand in western markets for rice glucose.

Currently, there are two rice glucose factories in Pakistan – both in Karachi due to proximity to ports and export markets.

Matco’s management believes the demand for rice glucose will increase because it is not genetically modified and safer for children. At present, over 90% domestic demand of pharmaceutical and confectionary industries is being met by corn glucose.

CPEC opens avenues for agri-exports

“There is so much room for diversification in rice exports because Pakistan does not make value added products from rice that have huge domestic as well as international demand,” he added.

Riaz Haq said...

#Qatar to import #food products worth $1 billion from #Pakistan | Pakistan | http://thenews.com.pk

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/217222-Qatar-to-import-edibles-worth-1-bn-from-Pakistan

In the wake of strained relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Doha’s high-powered trade delegation has visited Pakistan last week for exploring opportunities for importing meat including beef and mutton, chicken, rice and dairy products worth over a billion dollar.

Qatar is a rich country having potential to import over a billion dollar food items from Pakistan. “In the upcoming Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which will be established with the help of China, proposals are under consideration to establish modernised farm houses with the purpose to boost exports of live animals as well as of both beef and mutton manifold in years ahead,” said the official sources.

Earlier, Qatar used to import major chunk of food items from Saudi Arabia but after strained relationship with Gulf States now Qatar is exploring new markets to import food items and Pakistan can become potential player in this regard in weeks and months ahead.

Qatar is the 38th largest export economy in the world as in 2015, their exports stood at $79.9 billion while imports were $34.7 billion, resulting in a positive trade balance of $45.2 billion. In 2015 the GDP of Qatar was $164 billion.

The top exports of Qatar are Petroleum Gas($44.3B), Crude Petroleum ($17.3B), Refined Petroleum ($6.47B), Ethylene Polymers($2.26B) and Nitrogenous Fertilizers ($1.22B), using the 1992 revision of the HS (Harmonized System) classification.

Its top imports are Cars($2.87B), Planes, Helicopters, and/or Spacecraft ($2.6B), Gas Turbines ($1.09B),Aircraft Parts ($1.04B) and Jewellery ($970M).

The top import origins are China ($3.51B), France ($3.23B), the United Kingdom ($3.08B), the United States ($2.96B) and the United Arab Emirates ($2.76B).

Qatar borders Saudi Arabia by land and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Iran by sea. In 2015, Qatar imported $34.7 billion worth of products making it the 58th largest importer in the world. During the last five years, the imports of Qatar have increased at rate of 8.5 percent increased from $22.8 billion in 2010 to $37.7 billion in 2015.

The recent imports are led by cars, which represents 8.27 percent of total imports of Qatar, followed by planes and then other items.

President Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Zubair Tufail on Monday confirmed to this paper that Qatar’s trade delegation paid visit to Pakistan last week for exploring trade opportunities and they were interested in importing food items.

“We have helped them to establish contacts with major business houses involved in food items’ export from Pakistan and it is expected that exporters could get their potential shares in months and years ahead,” he concluded.

Riaz Haq said...

Equipped With New Test Capabilities, Laboratory in #Pakistan Helps Improve #FoodSafety, Increase #Meat #Exports https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/equipped-with-new-capabilities-laboratory-in-pakistan-helps-improve-food-safety-increase-exports#.WXp1USN5gMA.twitter …
The Pakistani Veterinary Residue Laboratory in Faisalabad, a food laboratory supported by the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has acquired the capability to undertake state-of-the-art tests to certify the safety of food. It has recently earned International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accreditation, and officials expect this to contribute to increased meat exports thanks to food safety certificates the lab will be able to issue for the first time.

“Pakistan produces some of the world’s finest tasting foods, especially meat and other animal products,” said Ahmad Waqar, who is in charge of this cooperation at the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the IAEA. “In the past, Pakistan has had exports rejected because they did not comply with the food safety standards of importing countries. This resulted in safety concerns, significant economic losses and food waste.”

The livestock sector contributes 12 percent of Pakistan’s GDP. In 2010, the European Union rejected 134 food export consignments due to the presence of contaminants. This raised concerns in Pakistan about the need to improve its food safety control system.

Veterinary drug misuse comes with consequences

As with many farmers around the world, it is common practice to administer medicines to animals to keep them healthy, rather than to treat disease when it occurs. “From a food safety point of view, problems especially arise when farmers do not have correct advice on what drug to buy and use, or do not follow instructions on how, when and how much to administer or how long to wait until the drugs have cleared out of the animal’s body,” said James Jacob Sasanya, food safety specialist at the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture. If drugs remain in the animals, they, or their residues, may end up in food products and could pose a health hazard to consumers.

For meat and other food products to be accepted as safe for consumption, they must be tested, among others, for veterinary drug residues to ensure these residues do not exceed safety or reference limits. “Pakistan did not have the capacity to conduct these tests until the new laboratory became operational,” Waqar said.

The laboratory was established by Pakistan’s Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. The IAEA’s technical cooperation programme helped by providing the laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment, and supported training opportunities at various European reference laboratories and expert missions to assist with implementing measurement protocols and methods as well as regular technical advice. Through this support, the laboratory has increased its testing capability and received the accreditation.

The certificate is valid for three years for the analysis of seven types of antibiotics and hormone analyses in food products. As a result, Pakistan now has the capacity to process over a thousand food samples each year.

Sheep products used to make sausages are one of the key export products and are monitored by 13 quarantine centers in Pakistan. These centers rely on credible laboratory testing, which for the first time is now available at the Veterinary Residue Laboratory and internationally recognized. “In the absence of its own national analytical capabilities, tests had to be outsourced to other countries, which is both expensive and time-consuming,” Sasanya said. “With this new achievement, Pakistan can now rely on its own analytical capabilities.”

Several countries from around the world are benefitting from this nuclear-derived technique and the assistance of the IAEA and the FAO for its implementation, including Botswana and Morocco.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s 1st #hybrid #rice #research opens at International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences #Karachi https://www.thenews.com.pk/amp/219184-Countrys-first-hybrid-rice-research-centre-opens-at-ICCBS …

The vice chancellor of the University of Karachi, Professor Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan, inaugurated the Sino-Pakistan Hybrid Rice Research Centre (SPHRRC) at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), KU, on Wednesday.

The audience was informed that it was first of its kind centre in the country and had been set up at a cost of Rs150 million on the premises of the country’s leading research establishment of the ICCBS.

“The research centre has state-of-the-art research facilities, including NMR spectroscopes, plant tissue culture technology, genomics and greenhouses.” The curtain-opening ceremony was attended by ICCBS Patron-in-Chief Professor Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, Consul General of China in Karachi Wang Yu, China National Rice Research Institute (CNRRI) of Hangzhou’s Director General Professor Dr Cheng Shihua and ICCBS Director Professor Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary.

Chinese Consul General Wang Yu said that Pakistan was famous for its high quality rice, while China was great importer of high quality Pakistani rice. Talking about the hybrid rice centre, he observed that the ICCBS owned highly qualified scholars and state-of-the-art research equipment.

Riaz Haq said...

Satellite and text messages: Pakistani farmers' new irrigation tools

https://www.dawn.com/news/1350151

It is still beyond farmer Mohammad Ashraf’s comprehension that people in Islamabad can predict that it will rain in the next two days in his village. He is also astonished that, based on this prediction, they can tell him how much he should water his rice and sugarcane plantations.

“I marvel at this science of being able to predict something that is unknown and in God’s hands,” says the 36-year-old farmer.

Every Friday, he reads the simple Urdu messages sent to his phone, saying things like: “Dear farmer friend, this is to inform you that between 21 and 28 July 2017 in your area (Bahawalnagar) the crops used this much water (cotton 1.6 inch, sugarcane 1.7 inch). Next week, rain is predicted in some parts of your region. Therefore please water your crops accordingly.”

The text messages are sent by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), a government agency that carries out water research. Ashraf would be even more flabbergasted if he knew the scientists get this information from space.

“Using satellites and models that take the pulse of the earth, we can identify the amount of water a given crop requires at a specific location and a specific time,” says Faisal Hossain, head of the Sustainability, Satellites, Water, and Environment (SASWE) research group at the University of Washington which developed the programme for, “estimating crop water requirement in a cost effective and sustainable manner for the whole country”.

Ashraf, who lives in Hayatpur in Punjab’s Sargodha district, now takes these messages seriously.

Five years ago, he met water experts from the PCRWR who were doing a field survey to explore how to improve groundwater conservation and crop yield.

During their surveys, the experts found that farmers were over-watering their crops.

They installed a water meter on Ashraf’s 12-acre farm and explained that if the arrow turned towards the green on the dial, it meant that his land had enough water.

When the arrow turned towards the red mark, it was time to water.

“Like every farmer in the village, I did not believe them. We have been farming for generations and know what works and what doesn’t,” Ashraf told The Third Pole.

But the following year, he decided to only water his field when the marker pointed towards the red.

That season he produced more, spent less on diesel to run the tubewell, and made more profit than anyone in the village.

“The others watered their sugarcane fields three times more than I did and not only did my plants grow taller, I had less disease in my crop than the rest.”

Ashraf says that an acre of his land yielded 1,000 maunds (1 maund = 37 kilogrammes) of sugarcane. Each maund sold for Rs180. “I sold my crop for Rs180,000 while most villagers could only sell between Rs80,000 and 100,000.

Now a convert, he says he plans heed to every word from PCRWR. “I’d say that 99 per cent of the time they are right on the mark about rain,” he says.

Since last year, the PCRWR has sent weekly information to farmers like Ashraf through text messages, telling them how much water their crops need.

They also send them weather forecasts.

“We started with 700 farmers in April 2016, all across Pakistan, and since January this year the number of farmers receiving the messages has increased to 10,000,” says Ahmed Zeeshan Bhatti, deputy director of PCRWR.

The agency has submitted a proposal to some organisations to support it in improving the advice and expanding the service to 100,000 farmers.

“We carried out a survey to gauge the response of the farmers to our advice and the feedback was encouraging,” he says.

Between 25 and 30 farmers would call back immediately for further information.

“Our initial telephone survey revealed that farmers are saving almost 40 per cent of water by rationing irrigation,” he says, adding that the service is saving around 250 million cubic metres of irrigation water per year.


Riaz Haq said...

#CPEC provides avenues for #Pakistan to get a big slice of $100 billion #China's food imports

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1484291/cpec-provides-avenues-target-100b-chinese-agri-market/

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a golden opportunity for overall development of this region and Pakistan should reorganise its agriculture sector to get a major slice of the $100 billion worth of agriculture produce imports by China, suggested Muhammad Mehmood, Punjab Agriculture Secretary.

Speaking at the launch of a study on “CPEC – Prospects & Challenges for Agriculture”, Mehmood pointed out that nearly one-fourth of the world’s population was living in China and most of its exports would be routed through Pakistan after the completion of CPEC. “Containers full of exportable surplus will be sent to various international markets, but on their return, these containers will be empty and we must capitalise on the opportunity to export our surplus agriculture produce to China,” he said.

Mehmood revealed that per capita income of China was increasing substantially, bringing a visible change in people’s lifestyle and food habits there. “Like other affluent societies, they also prefer rich and costly food and fruits,” he said, adding Pakistan could get maximum benefit of the emerging change.

“We are concentrating on high-value crops and a 10-year programme has been evolved to develop one lakh acres of land in the Potohar region for planting grape and other high-value crops.”

Major Chinese importers will also be invited to utilise this land for growing high-value fruits in addition to developing the agriculture processing industry on modern scientific lines.

“Its trickle-down effect will provide an opportunity to our farmers to upgrade their technologies and develop agriculture as a profitable business by shunning centuries-old practices,” Mehmood said.

He told the audience that foreign consultants had been engaged to analyse why Pakistan had not been able to get its due share in Chinese imports despite its friendly relations and close proximity.

He suggested that Pakistan should renegotiate the bilateral trade agreement and a meeting was expected in the current or next month. After that, “we would be in a position to decide which strategy is suitable for Pakistan to enhance its share in Chinese imports.”

Responding to a question about a research project on the China-Pakistan agricultural technical cooperation, the agriculture secretary insisted that the Punjab Agriculture Research Board was extending liberal grants to the viable projects planned by the public and private sectors.

“Initially, Rs259 million had been allocated for this purpose. The funding was immediately increased to Rs750 million and it would be further enhanced to Rs3 billion in the next three years,” he said.

He asked the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry president to send the project to the research board where a group of experts would review its viability and approve the requisite grant.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani farmers fast adopting tunnel farming techniques
November 11, 2017 By:Samaa Web Desk Published in Blogs Be the first to comment!

https://www.samaa.tv/blogs/2017/11/pakistani-farmers-fast-adopting-tunnel-farming-techniques/

Tunnel farming is not less than a windfall for farmers in Punjab and other upper parts of Pakistan as vegetables grown two months ahead of the actual time window fetch three to five times more price.

Recent uppish trends in the prices of the kitchen crops especially tomatoes and onions have made off-season veggies technology more popular among the farmers.

“I sold cucumbers grown at my farm at a rate of Rs 50 per kilogram last month. But these are now fetching now Rs 22 per kilogram in the whole sale market, almost twice the prices these are sold for in season,” says Allah Rakha, an owner of a farm in Kharianwala in Central Pakistan province of Punjab.

Tunnels, the structures comprising steel pipes covered by plastic sheets have lately mushroomed in Pakistan’s plains, mostly in central Punjab districts of Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib and Gujranwala, following the suit of farms in Khyber Pakhtun Khawa, the north-western province.

Besides Cucumbers, other high-value vegetables grown in Pakistan through tunnel farming include- tomatoes, chilies, Caspicum (Shimla Mirch) and gourds.

The nurseries of tomatoes, chilies and caspcus are being transplanted these days in Punjab and the crop is expected to be at fruiting stage by February.

The technology not only helps produce the crop at least two months earlier than the traditional cultivation season but also saves the crop from all sorts of severe weather and handling related problems. In Punjab, the provincial government is providing subsidy for the purchase of drip irrigation gadgets while USAID is providing technical and financial assistance to growers in Khyber Pakhtun Khawa. But due to lack of awareness, the area under tunnel farms in Punjab is not more than 350 acres which is just iota when compared to millions of acres of agriculture land in the province.

“More and more growers should turn to this technology; We are ready to provide all sorts of assistance,” says Dr. Zafaryab Hyder , Director General Agriculture Extension, Punjab.

In spite all the constraints, the new technology has opened new vistas of prosperity for the farmers who had been victim of subsistence culture over the last several decades. Just a decade ago, the people of Punjab had to relish on the vegetables grown in the neighboring provinces of Sindh, Khyber PakhtunKhawa and Balochistan at exorbitant prices. The vegetables like bitter gourd, okra, peas , tomatoes, chilies , cucumbers from other provinces fetched atleast twice as compared to those produced in the Punjab just a couple of months later. However, the introduction of tunnel farming has produced new array of opportunities, initially for the progressive farmers who can get price for tomatoes, capsicum (Bell Peppers) thrice in early time window than the traditional season of cultivation. The owners of land tracts with tunnel farming are mostly educated youth, mostly agriculture graduates and Masters’ in Business Administration. They are no more being exploited by the middle man.

Rather, they provide high-value off-season vegetables directly to hotels and departmental stores. Besides vegetables, even the growers of strawberry in Lahore and Sheikhupura districts have adopted the tunnel farming to protect their crops from the severe weather conditions. With the passage of every day, the future of this new technology is becoming more and more bright especially the fertile agricultural lands of Punjab. The future of tunnel farming seems bright in Pakistan as growers have started embracing the technology lately.

However, the ongoing smoggy weather in the Central Pakistan has cast ill-effects on the crop with hindering the photosynthesis process much needed for the plant growth. Growers fear that per acre yield may decline drastically if the unfavorable weather conditions continue.