Archive for July, 2009

Plan to add value to vegetable crops

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.

Fruits, vegetables supply from Swat begins

Post Source: (DAWN) By Yaqoob Malik
Saturday, 25 Jul, 2009

It is believed that the vegetable crops damaged in the war against terror will take a few months to recover, while fruit orchards and farms completely destroyed would take at least 2-4 years to come into normal production. – File photo

It is believed that the vegetable crops damaged in the war against terror will take a few months to recover, while fruit orchards and farms completely destroyed would take at least 2-4 years to come into normal production. – File photo

ATTOCK: The supply of fruits and vegetables from Swat, suspended about two months back due to military operations, has started with consignments arriving in local subzi mandi here.

The suspension not only caused financial loss to the growers in Swat but also affected business of vegetables and fruits dealers and vendors in Attock district.  Swat valley is rich in production of fruits and vegetables. It produced about 0.271 million tons of green stuff last year, particularly golden apple, peach, apricot, orange, potato, onion and garlic.  A local fruit and vegetable dealer said that his business suffered due to suspension of supplies from Swat and Northern Areas for the last two months.

He said that about 30 to 40 per cent supply of fruits and vegetables was from Swat and the demand was met from Punjab and Sindh on interim basis.  Fruits and vegetables from Swat are cheaper compared to other far- flung areas of the country due to less cost of transportation. It is believed that the vegetable crops damaged in the war against terror will take few months to recover, while fruit orchards and farms completely destroyed would take at least 2-4 years to come into normal production.

Militancy left Malakand fruits to rot in farms

Post Source: (DAWN) By Ali Hazrat Bacha
Friday, 24 Jul, 2009

Merchants earned millions of rupees every season, mostly by exporting fruits, but this year they could not even meet their expenses. They demanded compensation for their losses. – File photo

Merchants earned millions of rupees every season, mostly by exporting fruits, but this year they could not even meet their expenses. They demanded compensation for their losses. – File photo

PESHAWAR: Owing to militancy and the subsequent military operation against troublemakers in the Malakand division, fruit dealers and owners of orchards suffered heavy financial losses.

Due to the prolonged curfews and displacement of people, hundreds of tons of fruits and vegetables got rotted and could not be transported from farms to markets, which also caused shortage of different sorts of fruits in the markets.

A group of merchants in the local fruit market told Dawn that fruits like plum, apricot and peach were also grown in Surizi, Hazarkhwani, Ormar, Khazana, Naguman, Harichand and Charsadda but their quality did not match that of Swat, Dir and other Malakand areas.

‘In the past we rarely purchased the fruits grown in Peshawar due to their low quality, but this year we had no other option because supply of fruits had stopped from Malakand due to curfews,’ said a trader, Ibrahim.

He said a crate of fine quality Swat peaches weighing up to 8kg was available for Rs150 to Rs200 the previous year, but this year the same quantity of peaches grown in Peshawar was sold for up to Rs600.

Previously, fine quality fruits were mostly exported and merchants earned millions of rupees every season, but this year they even could not meet their routine expenditures.

Abid Khan, an owner of a fruit orchard in Matta, said a majority of people in upper Swat were dealing in the fruit business and had no other source of income but as the operation was launched the residents had to flee the area.

He said fruits were grown in the entire Swat region but some areas like Chuprial, Sher Palam, Naukhara, Bar Thana, Shawar, Sambat, Peer Kalay, Malam Jabba, Matta, Sakhra, Darmai, Tal, Dardyal, Bandai, Kabal, Sinpura, Arkot, Bagh Deri, Nazarabad, Khariri, Drushkhela, Madyan, Behrain were famous for different kinds of fruits.

An agriculture researcher, who wished not to be named, said militants had destroyed most of the nurseries and orchards owned by the elders of Swat. He said people used to grow fruits on at least four per cent of the Swat area.

The fruits which are commonly grown in the Malakand division include plum, apricot, peaches, apple, walnut, etc.

A fruit contractor of Barikot, Fazal Maula Khan, told Dawn that he had purchased fruit orchards of plum, apricot and peach in the villages of Gogdara, Barikot, Kabal and Rahimabad worth Rs7 million but the fruits could not be transported to markets due to curfews.

About curfew passes issued to farmers, he said the passes were given to a limited number of people who could not hire daily-wagers and arrange packing materials. He said farmers had to share a truck and transport only a few crates in a trip leaving behind the rest of fruits.

Akhtar Hussain also owns an orchard in Malam Jabba and is nowadays living in a government school as IDP. He said he used to sell peaches of Rs500,000 to Rs600,000 in a season but this year all the fruit got rotted because he could not arrange the required spray for the orchard.

‘We have to spray insecticides on the fruits every fortnight otherwise the fruits get rotted and fall automatically,’ he said, adding that in the current season no farmer could arrange the spray due to curfews.

Another farmer, Umer Ali of Drushkhela, said peaches once plucked from tree needed to be transported to market within three days, apple from one week to 15 days and apricots and plums within five days, otherwise they got rotted.

Very few farmers, he said, had tried to transport peaches to different markets via Shangla but the transportation charges were so heavy that the price of per kilogramme peach had reached Rs80, which was beyond the purchasing power of the common man.

The merchants said they had paid millions of rupees to orchard owners in advance, but fruits could not be transported in the prevailing circumstances, adding it also led to disputes among the owners and traders because under the agreements the farmers were demanding full payment for their fruits.

They demanded that the government should issue permits to traders for transporting packing materials to orchards. They also demanded compensation to the people for their losses.

Post Source: Daily Aajkal Urdu Newspaper

Daily Aajkal – Lahore (July 23, 2009) 

Rahim Yar Khan

Country faces over 0.5m tons fertilizer shortage for Khareef

Post Source: The Nation (July 23, 2009)

LAHORE – The country is facing the fertilizer shortage of over 500,000 tons for khareef crop as currently we need at least three million tons of it for the current season.
This was stated by State Minister for Industries and Production Dr Ayatullah Durrani while talking to the media at National Fertilizer Corporation (NFC) office on Wednesday.
He said the government would establish a strategic reserve of 250,000 tons of fertilizers more than the total demand of the country to avoid its scarcity during the current season.
The minister said that to cope with this shortfall of fertilizer the government is importing the commodity as 400,000 tons of fertilizer had already reached Gwadar and Karachi ports. “Out of this total imported fertilizer, 1,64,000 tons was off-loaded at Karachi port while the rest was reached Gwadar port, he said and added that another cargo of 60,000 tons of fertilizer is also on the way to reach Pakistan.
The minister also disclosed that the PPP government was running a move to give maximum autonomy to the provinces. However, he opposed the idea of creating new provinces, saying that those who are in favour of more provinces and talking about the new ones, actually wanted political mileage from it. Ayatullah said that Punjab would get 70 per cent share of the total imported fertilizer while 20 per cent share of it would go to Sindh, 8 per cent to NWFP and Balochistan would obtained two per cent chunk.
He said a fool proof fertilizer’s distribution network has been established to avoid the hurdles faced last year during the sale of it on government fixed rates. He maintained that the Federal government on the advice of the provincial governments would ensure supply of fertilizer in the areas where it is required.
He said that the NFC had appointed over 600 dealers in the country out of which 439 were in Punjab.
The minister also warned the hoarders to avoid from their immoral tactics and assured that the government would take strict measures to control this trend. He said that NFC officials also had a meeting with the Chief Minister Punjab and assured their full support from their organization and National Fertilizers Marketing Limited (NFML) in meeting the fertilizer requirement of the province.
To a query he said that the Industrial policy would be finalized in a month of two to come. He made it clear that that Balochis are not against Punjab but the province had been neglected during the last 60 years.
He said that there was foreign hand involved in worsening situation more in Balochistan and Prime Minister had conveyed this to India during his recent meeting with his counterpart while Rehman Malik also took up this issue with Karzai.

Agri credit disbursement rises over 10pc to Rs233b

Post Source: The Nation (July 23, 2009)

KARACHI- Agricultural credit disbursement by commercial and specialized banks rose 10.14 per cent year-on-year to Rs 233.01 billion in the 2008-09 fiscal year (FY09).
In absolute terms, disbursement of credit to the agriculture sector increased by over Rs 21.449 billion in FY09 when compared with total disbursement of Rs 211.561 billion in 2007-08 fiscal year (FY08).
State Bank of Pakistan reported on Wednesday that overall credit disbursement by five major commercial banks including Allied Bank Limited, Habib Bank Limited, MCB Bank Limited, National Bank of Pakistan and United Bank Limited stood at Rs 110.666 billion in FY09 compared with Rs 94.749 billion in FY08, depicting an increase of Rs 15.917 billion or 16.80 per cent.
Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, the largest specialized bank, disbursed a total of Rs 75.139 billion in FY09, up 12.25 percent when compared with Rs 66.939 billion in FY08, while disbursement by Punjab Provincial Co-operative Bank Limited stood at Rs 5.579 billion in FY09 compared with Rs 5.931 in FY08. Besides, 14 domestic private banks also loaned a combined Rs 41.626 billion in FY09 compared with Rs 43.941 billion disbursed in FY08.
It may be recalled that the State Bank of Pakistan had set an indicative agricultural credit disbursement target of Rs 250 billion for FY09.
Despite difficult economic and market conditions, banks were able to achieve more than 93 percent of the target.

Subsidised tractors for farmers in Sindh

Post Source: (Dawn – July 18, 2009) 

By Muzaffar Qureshi

A Farmer uses a tractor to prepare his field – APP/File photo.

A Farmer uses a tractor to prepare his field – APP/File photo.

KARACHI: The Sindh agriculture department plans to distribute 3,000 tractors at a cost of Rs808 million to farmers under a scheme for provision of assistance on purchase of tractors during 2009-10. 

It will provide subsidy of Rs200,000 on tractors with a cost up to Rs0.6 million and Rs300,000 on tractors costing over Rs0.6 million. 

Additional Secretary Projects Mohammad Aslam announced on Wednesday criteria for distribution of subsidised tractors, which provides that 50 per cent of the tractors would be given to growers, selected through ballot, cultivating 25 acres and the remaining 50 per cent would be reserved for growers of land units above 25 acres. 

The other condition for an eligible applicant would be that he does not have a tractor and possess proof of ownership of land under cultivation for which a subsidised tractor is required. 

He said every district would be given tractors’ quota depending on the area under cultivation. 

Apart from individual growers farmers forming small cooperatives could also apply.

The official pointed out that growers would be free to choose the type of tractor from both the locally made ones and the imported. 

After completing all purchase formalities including making payment to the suppliers through banks the incumbent would produce the purchase invoice to the department which then would release the amount of subsidy. 

The ministry would soon invite applications for growers wishing to obtain subsidized tractors, with Rs10,000 application fee which would be refundable if a grower remains unsuccessful in the draw. 

Meanwhile, Sindh Abadger Board has demanded of the government to provide subsidy on agricultural implements at the level being provided to growers by the Punjab government. 

President of the board Majid Nizamani said during 2008-09 the Punjab government provided Rs800 million as subsidy on account of farm implements, including tube wells as well as 10,000 tractors on reduced rates. 

In addition, the Punjab chief minister announced a gift of 250 tractors to the growers achieving high yield. 

Since Sindh produces one third of the crops grown in Punjab, hence the ministry should provide Rs200 million for farm implements as well as 3,500 tractors on subsidised rates in addition to 70 tractors as gifts to the efficient farmers. 

Anwar Bachani of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture expressed doubts that the distribution of subsidised tractors would be transparent. He demanded setting up of a committee, comprising representatives of growers to oversee distribution of tractors.