Business Recorder

  • Oil exploration, coal mining and power generation project: foreign group to invest $200 billion in Sindh, says Soomro

    Caretaker Prime Minister, Mohammedmian Soomro Sunday said that an entrepreneur group from United States and Canada will jointly invest in oil exploration, coal mining and power generation project in Sindh with an initial investment of $200 billion. Prime Minister said the foreign investment will help the country attain its goal of self-reliance in power sector. He was talking to the media after a call-on by a foreign investors delegation at his residence here. He said he was glad for the trust showed by the foreign investors in Pakistan.

  • Farmers fear fertiliser crisis

    President of Pakistan Kisan Movement (PKM) Chaudhry Ashfaq has appealed to President Pervez Musharraf to take actions against those officials who are exploiting farmers by creating fertiliser crisis. He expressed his views while chairing a Kisan meeting here on Monday. Farmers from different parts also attended the meeting and shared their grievances on the occasion. He said that farmers were very concerned over a possible fertiliser crisis badly affecting their community following the wheat and cooking oil crises.

  • Punjab Agriculture research board reactivated to modernise farming sector

    Punjab government has reactivated and empowered Punjab Agriculture Research Board (Parb) in order to corporatise research on major crops by including private stakeholders in its decision making. Planning and development department sources told APP here on Monday that agri research system in the province is being improved to give impetus to the agriculture sector, which is pivotal to the economy and contributes about 54 percent to the gross provincial product.

  • Ample financial resources allocated for forestation: Musharraf

    Ample financial resources have been allocated to increase the forest cover from 5.01-6 percent by 2015, said President Parvez Musharaf in a message on the occasion of National Spring Tree Plantation that would be observed on Friday, February 15. He said that under the Mid-Term Development fund (MTDF) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), huge resources have been allocated. In addition to mega forestry sector projects, an amount of Rs 12 billion has been approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) which will be implemented by all the provincial governments, as well as AJK and the Northern Areas. He further said that our entire rural population depends upon wood and biomass as a primary source of energy. Despite their indirect contribution to other production sectors, economic values of forests are usually underestimated in natural accounts and the GDP. President directed the provincial governments to implement these projects with the involvement of all stakeholders including farmers, local communities, forest owners and right holders, civil organisations, the private sector and students. The president reiterated that Pakistan, as a member of various international and regional forums on forests is committed to undertake forestry development programme with international support. He said that the government will ensure transfer of technologies, training and upgrading of departmental infrastructure to facilitate the provinces in implementing their strategies and programmes of forestry sector. He urged all the citizens to participate in the national efforts to cover barren land of the country with trees. Syed Wajid Hussain Bokhari, Federal Environment Minister, said that President will inaugurate the National Spring Tree Planting campaign on Friday. More than 86.5 million saplings will be planted all over the country during the campaign. He further said that the spring tree plantation campaign target includes planting 22 million saplings in Punjab, 1.2 million in Sindh, 27 million in NWFP, 1.5 million in Balochistan, 16 million in AJK, 4 million in Northern Areas and 4 million saplings by other departments including Capital Development Authority (CDA). Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • Agriculture-skills training workshop from February 26

    World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-N) Faisalabad will organise a three-day Agri-skills training workshop here from February 26 to 28. The workshop will focus on sugarcane sowing, disease resistant and high yielding varieties of sugarcane, operation of farmer's field schools and necessary skills to transfer technology. Project Officer WWF Rana Lal Khan Babar said that Dr Arshad Ali Chattha, Director Sugarcane Research Institute Faisalabad, Dr Shahid Afghan, Director Shakar Ganj Sugarcane Research Institute Shakar Ganj Sugar Mills Jhang and Makhdoom Arif Hameed of WWF Lahore will deliver lectures and give presentations. They would also elaborate new technologies to get maximum yield with minimum use of water. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • Lankan dentists go green

    More than 100 dental clinics in Colombo will participate in a "Go Green' project aiming for zero environmental effect from dental dangerous waste containing mercury. Amalgam separators will soon be installed at the clinics collecting 99 per cent of the amalgam which contains mercury. Sweden Recycling AB, a Swedish environmental oriented company, with financial assistance from the Swedish organisation SIDA, is spearheading this project to reduce the mercury waste coming from dental clinics in Sri Lanka. With this project, Sri Lanka will be the first country in Asia to move towards a safe recycling of dental dangerous waste. Installing amalgam separators will evidence that mercury waste can be reduced instantly. Awarness of the positive effects on the evironment and the benefit of this to humans is expected to lead to a wider use of amalgam separators both on a national and international level. The Sri Lanka Dental Association with 1,500 dentist members, together with Sweden Recycling is offering dental clinics to participate in a subsidised project where dangerous waste will be collected and recycled. Sweden Recycling has during the last 25 years successfully reduced the amount of mercury finding its way into nature, polluting the environment in Nordic countries. In Sweden, more than 500 kg of mercury is yearly recovered by Sweden Recycling from the dental sector. Mercury is a heavy metal which posses the most severe threat to nature and to human beings through pollution caused by inadequate handling of mercury contaminated waste. Dental clinics generally represent approximately 50 per cent of the total amount of mercury being wasted into nature and polluting the environment for decades. Amalgam waste, and thus mercury being its main ingredience in the dental amalgam, has to be collected at source (the dental clinic) according to the mercury strategy adopted by the European Parliament. In Asia pollution caused by mercury waste is not restricted like in Europe and the amalgam pollution continues. Teeth repair with amalgam fillings continue to be the main method for dental proffesionals. Since there is no collection in Asia of waste containing mercury and recovery of mercury the impact of the waste is massive. Many inhabitants in Asia have fish as their most important daily food and the fish is prone to be contaminated by mercury in the water. Mercury will thus be transferred to man and accumulated in the human body with well-known lethal effects. Inducting amalgam separators in dental clinics is thus a big step towards a cleaner environment and consequently less polluted food.

  • Rs 168.8 billion agriculture credit disbursed during 2006-07

    During 2006-07, a record disbursement of agricultural credit took place. Against credit allocation of Rs 160 billion, an amount of Rs 168.8 billion was disbursed, which reflects 22.8 percent increase as compared to last year's disbursement. This was disclosed in an Annual Performance Report (2006-07) of Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal), which was released recently. According to the report, the Public Sector Development Project (PSDP) of Minfal for the year 2006-07 included 61 projects. Out of which 41 were ongoing and 20 new projects to support policy objectives set at the national level. The original PSDP allocation was Rs 11,800 million. The allocation was revised to Rs 13,600 million after mid year PSDP review. However, from the enhanced revised allocation, Rs 329.5 million was not released to Minfal. Moreover, Rs 852.4 million savings indicated by Minfal for re-appropriation for its mega project, 'National Programme for Improvement of Watercourses' was diverted to other Ministry. As such, the Minfal's allocation was reduced to Rs 12,418.1 million. Out of this amount, Rs 1,741.9 million approved for re-appropriation for different projects by the P&D Division was also not released which were finally surrendered. Thus Rs 10,676.2 million was released to Minfal's project upto June, 2007 and against it, the utilisation was of Rs 10,244.37 million which is 96 percent of the amount released. Minfal report mentioned that the other key achievements of the government, during the year 2006-07, have been signing of agriculture specific MoUs/Agreements/Protocols with friendly countries and of MFN status for agricultural exports with various other countries. A number of Joint Ministerial Commissions (JMC) were set-up relating to agricultural development, and policy-level negotiations were undertaken under the WTO regime as well as Safta. Minfal report revealed that government recognises the role of agricultural growth in boosting overall growth of the economy and reducing poverty. For achieving higher growth in agriculture, priority objectives set by Minfal include enhanced productivity to ensure food security, efficient import substitution and export orientation. Within these broad objectives, the main element is to accelerate growth by narrowing existing yield gaps, promotion of agriculture related business enterprises, provision of quality support services to farmers, and market reforms to increase profitability of agriculture for small farmers. Moreover, attention is being focused on increasing the production of major crops like wheat, cotton, sugarcane, rice and maize through remunerative market-based prices, evolving new high-yielding varieties requiring low inputs through adaptive research, help improving market and storage facilities with public-private nexus, and providing greater access to farmers for optimal technologies and seasonal credit. Such far-reaching objectives require efficient agriculture institutions to effectively respond to growing and diversifying needs of farmers to accelerate productivity and growth at the grassroots. Minfal has initiated several reforms of the agriculture sector institutions to promote decentralisation and liberalisation of agriculture services. For reforming the research system, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (Parc) is being restructured with more autonomy to the Board of Governors both in formulation of research policy and financial empowerment. Similarly, in agriculture extension, reforms are being conceived to improve research and extension linkages in the backdrop of further decentralising extension services at the union council level. To face the future challenges of policy analysis, APCom's mandate has been redefined to play a meaningful role in the Ministry, priority focusing on agriculture policy issues, monitoring and analysis of international trade agreements for suggesting measures to improve Pakistan agriculture's competitiveness in the global market. To support agribusiness development in the livestock sector, the Prime Minister, in principle, has approved a National Livestock Development Policy. A new market-friendly wheat policy is in place, key elements of which include free wheat marketing, voluntarily selling by farmers at the guaranteed minimum price, and maintaining a clear distinction between operational reserve and strategic reserve by the government. A comprehensive fisheries policy has been prepared and presented to the Prime Minister. In addition to above mentioned policy reforms, Minfal has also undertaken a project for the strengthening of capacity for improvement of agricultural statistics in Pakistan. The objectives of the project are to strengthen the capacity of Provincial Crop Reporting Service (CRS) by providing them motorcycles, vehicles, computers, office equipment, technical equipment and O&M cost for field operations. It will help the CRS in provision of timely agricultural statistics for policy formulation and early warning system. Efforts are underway to augment development component of agriculture through continued supply of financial resources for agriculture sector development to support policy objectives set at the national level. The agriculture sector performed well as compared to the previous year and growth in the agriculture sector bounced back from 1.6 percent in 2005-06 to 5.0 percent in the 2006-07. The major crops registered an impressive growth of 7.6 percent. The minor crops grew by 1.1 percent slightly up from the last year's growth of 0.4 percent. The livestock sector grew by 4.3 percent during 2006-07 as against 7.5 percent in 2005-06. The wheat production of 23.295 million tons during 2006-07 is highest ever in the country's history, registering an increase of 9.5 percent over 2005-06. Sugarcane production improved by 22.6 percent over 2005-06 to 54.7 million tons. Cotton production at 13 million bales remained almost unchanged in comparison to 13.02 million bales in 2005-06. Rice production at 5.4 million tons was marginally lower than 5.5 million tons produced in 2005-06. The major factors responsible for increased agricultural production are, agricultural credit availability, support/intervention prices, government policy of encouraging use of the balanced fertiliser by granting subsidy on phosphatic and potashic fertilisers, increased irrigation water availability and favourable weather conditions particularly during Rabi season. Within crop sector, import substitution and crop diversification are two important development priorities of Minfal. Efforts are being made to maximise oilseed production, such as sunflower and canola etc to substitute imports of edible oil to save foreign exchange. Like-wise under crop diversification programme, government has planned to introduce high value crops to diversify production and to enhance net farm income. The milk and meat production touched the level of 33.2 and 2.6 million tons respectively in 2006-07. It implies 6.2 and 6.6 percent higher production. Fish production was 0.6 million tons ie 3.6 percent higher than in 2005-06. Growth in the targets for milk and meat production and livestock productivity are aligned with Medium Term Development Frame Work (MTDF), which aims to grow by to 6-8 percent annually. Government has provided Rs 100 million for launching 'Grow More Wheat Campaign 2006-2007'. Under the campaign wheat production technologies are being disseminated to the farming community through agriculture extension services in the provinces. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • NWFP and Balochistan to get bulldozers: around 219,375 hectares cultivable wasteland to be reclaimed

    Federal government will provide 200 bulldozers for Balochistan and 100 for NWFP, which would be hired out to the farmers at no profit no loss basis to facilitate them in reclaiming the cultivable wasteland. According to the sources in Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal), around 219,375 hectares of cultivable wasteland (NWFP 73,125 and Balochistan 146,250 hectares) would be reclaimed through the use of 300 bulldozers. This will enhance agricultural production in the NWFP and Balochistan provinces, sources said. According to an update Minfal study, about 8.12 million hectares of land falls in the category of cultivable wasteland out of which 1.22 and 4.0 million hectares are in NWFP and Balochistan respectively. Provincial Agriculture Engineering Departments need additional machinery and 900 bulldozers to reclaim the cultivable wasteland. Minfal sources mentioned that agricultural growth is key to curtailing poverty since poor heavily rely on agricultural goods and services for their livelihood. In line with the objectives of PRSP, Minfal has approved a number of projects for crop maximisation to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Pakistan in PSDP 2006-07. A number of projects assisted by ADB, FAO and UN/WFP for crop maximisation, increasing food security and promoting poverty alleviation are also under implementation. Sources said that government has given top priority to the development of water resources to maximise crop production. This has been done through progressively increasing surface water supplies and conserving water using the latest technologies and protecting land and infrastructure from water logging, salinity, floods and soil erosion. The main objectives are overcoming the scarcity of water through augmentation and conservation means ie by construction of medium and large dams and by efficient utilisation of irrigation water and restoring the productivity of agricultural land through control of water logging, salinity and floods, sources added. They said that an integrated programme approach for water management has been adopted. On-farm Water Management (OFWM) projects have been implemented on community participation basis in the provinces, AJ&K and Federal Agencies. Water conservation is being ensured under the President's programme for the improvement and lining of watercourses. This programme envisaged lining improvement of 87,000 watercourses at a cost of Rs 66 billion within 3-4 years. This initiative will significantly improve water supply at the farm-gate through reduction in the seepage losses. During the year 2006-07, 18,390 watercourses have been lined and renovated against the target of 18,000 watercourses. Minfal sources stated that the government has fulfilled most of the commitments related to different WTO-specific agreements. Pakistan has already started improving quality and standards of agricultural export commodity markets. Imposition of strict Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures and adoption of other significant regulatory steps through the Department of Plant Protection helped increase agricultural exports to the developed countries. Different development projects for the strengthening of laboratories for quality control have been initiated. For grading of agriculture and livestock commodities, grade standards of about 50 commodities, under Grading and Marketing Act, were developed. According to the Minfal study agriculture sector in Pakistan is facing many serious challenges and constraints for future growth. These challenges are embedded in (i) the rising demand for agricultural products with the growth of population and incomes; (ii) the expanding role of free and competitive markets in agriculture trade at the national and international levels. Increased farm productivity, achieved by sustainable use of natural resources and other inputs, and diversification of production from the low value to high value products in response to market demand have to be the key ingredients of future agriculture strategy to make agriculture both productive and profitable; (iii) wide yield gaps in major and minor crops, inefficient use of water at farms, poor quality and availability of agricultural inputs, frequent insect and pest attacks and high incidence of crop and livestock diseases require effective resolution; and (iv) strengthening of agriculture research system is needed to focus more on emerging areas such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, hybrid seeds etc. Improving agricultural knowledge system for effective crop forecasting, and undertaking market reforms in preparation of expanding trade regimes of WTO and Safta are other areas in which Minfal is currently focusing on. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • Acute water shortage in Indus

    There will be considerable shortage of irrigation water supplies in Sindh due to lesser flows in the rivers of Pakistan and it has been decided to resort to intensive rotation flows from March 15. Sindh is getting only 20,400 cusecs in canals against accord share of 37,500 cusecs on 28.2.2008. Thus the shortage has reached to the extent of 45 percent, a spokesman of Irrigation and Power Department said on Thursday. The farmers, domestic consumers and all others using water from irrigation network in Sindh informed that with 45 percent shortage the situation is crucial and the department is taking following measures: (a) Drinking water for Karachi will be maintained. (b) Some flows for drinking purpose will be allowed in Fuleli and Pinyari Canals. (c) Supplies to Gudu Barrage Canals will be reduced to 1,250 cusecs being 50 percent shortage. (d) Supplies to Sukkur Barrage canals will be reduced to 15,000 cusecs being 50 percent shortage. (e) Supplies to Kotri Barrage canals will be enhanced to 3,000 cusecs to cater for drinking water requirements, which is 42 percent shortage. The spokesman said that in view of the situation, intensive rotation of canal flows will have to be enforced. The Chief Engineers/Managing Director SIDA have been directed to announce canal flows rotation programme according to the availability at each barrage/canal. This intensive rotation programme will be enforced from March 15 and department will made all efforts to arrange for judicious sharing of water and deliver due share to all the tails of the system and control water theft. Farmers and all others using Irrigation water have been advised to use available water carefully.-PR Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • Reducing poverty in rural areas: ASF approves Rs 22.2 million grants for agribusiness enterprises

    The Agribusiness Support Fund's (ASF) appraisal committee has approved 96 grants worth Rs 22.2 million for different private sector agribusiness enterprises focusing on reducing poverty in rural areas. According to a message received here on Saturday the committee meeting, held in Lahore early this week. Particularly considered NWFP, FANA and Balochistan for these grants for enterprises ranging from farmer groups to SMEs, from all over Pakistan for different business development services (BDS). Grants to farmers enterprises groups (FEGs) were provided for establishment of grass-roots level income-generating activities, with a focus on value-addition. These groups have 1200 farmers all over Pakistan. The major initiative was supporting clusters of FEGs--approximately five FEG in every cluster--in establishment of milk chilling centres to preserve milk and ensuring its supply to ultimate consumer in pure and fresh condition and increasing income by eliminating the role of middlemen, walk-in tunnels for off-season farming of different vegetables, flower growing and marketing and pickles production and sales: ASF also supported enterprises in setting up nurseries and introducing new varieties of fruits and vegetables. Funding support to SMEs included grant support for setting up of mega cold storage facility in Karachi aimed at reducing spoilage. This facility will play an important role in the promotion of exports of horticultural produce from Pakistan to international markets. ASF also supported an association of fruit and vegetables exporters, importers and merchants in the establishment of 'Business Resource Centre'. The purpose of this centre will be to provide business opportunities, marketing services, training and linkages development etc. In addition, another association in the floriculture sector was provided support in creation of a strategy document for their operations. ASF also continued its support to agribusiness enterprises in gaining different certifications aimed at enhancing exports of fruits and vegetables. The Agribusiness Development and Diversification Project (ADDP) of Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Minfal) with the support from Asian Development Bank had created ASF with a grant of Rs 4.1 billion. ASF has been established to develop the agribusiness sector in Pakistan to support economic growth and for employment generation. It has further been tasked to promote private sector agribusiness enterprises by providing matching grants for purchase of BDS and also providing capacity building support to BDS providers. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

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