Post Source: (DAWN) By Mohammad Hussain Khan
Friday, 31 Jul, 2009
HYDERABAD: The Sindh government is planning to establish vegetable processing clusters under a public-private partnership programme.
The government hired consultants who have conducted surveys and interacted with growers on vegetable farming.
These deliberations were held at a seminar on vegetable processing clusters with the theme of ‘Converting Produce into Production’. Consultants of the Sindh government, Sidat Hyder Morshed Associates, organised it on Thursday in collaboration with the planning and development department.
Sindh Secretary (agriculture) Agha Jan Akhtar, Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) president Abdul Majeed Nizamani, a progressive grower from Matiari, Haji Nadeem Shah, senior manager of Morshed associates Asad Hassan and others shared their views with participants of the seminar in detail.
SAB president Abdul Majeed Nizamani dwelt at length on prevailing conditions of the agriculture sector which he said was being neglected continuously, though the sector accounted for 23 per cent of GDP. It was given just Rs18 billion in federal government’s budget despite contributing Rs3,100 billion, he said.
Whereas, he said, in the Sindh government’s budget, the sector was given only Rs4.8 billion, though 25 per cent of income was derived from the agriculture sector. He said allocation of Rs4.8 billion meant that the sector had been given Rs370 per acre which was less than Rs400 per day wages of a farm worker. ‘So it reflects government’s seriousness and commitment of the government to agriculture,’ he said. He was quite critical of the role of NGOs in public private partnership.
He said vegetable were part of the horticulture sector but after 62 years of independence, we were not able to control post-harvesting losses that were calculated at 35 per cent even during normal conditions when there was no instability in government. ‘If we convert post harvest losses into money, it will come to $0.875 billion,’ he lamented.
Mr Nizamani said growers had to take their produce to Karachi or Lahore because Hyderabad and other markets lacked capacity to absorb their products.
He said Sindh was producing 250,000 tons of vegetable, but 87,000 tons was perished before reaching market and its value was estimated at Rs1,800 million whereas the farm-gate value of total vegetable produces is Rs1,100 million.
‘It (agriculture) is not the backbone, but broken bone of the country’s economy,’ he sarcastically said.
He spoke of quality hybrid seed which was not available in Sindh, although through a recent use of hybrid seed 110 maund per acre yield of paddy had been achieved recently. He said Punjab was progressing in agriculture sector.
Participants were briefed in a presentation by Asad Hassan of Morshed associates about government’s plan of establishing vegetable development programme in the shape of vegetable processing clusters. He said the government had identified seven districts including Badin, Nawabshah, Thatta, Mirpurkhas, Matiari, Tando Mohammad Khan and others for the programme.
The government would contribute in the shape infrastructure. Growers would be encouraged about competitive trends through those clusters as it was an idea which was in addition to conventional farming methods, he said.
His presentation revealed that the government planned to bring in foreign investors as well to invest heavily in the field while local agriculturists would also be able to invest in the field and get good returns under the public -private partnership scheme.
Growers’ cooperation and support was being sought by the government for creating a conductive environment, after which feasibility reports would be prepared to be sent to the Asian Development Bank and federal government.
He said the Sindh government was committed to the project.