Halal food sector has potential to boost exports

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Salim Ahmed

Lahore—Federal Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security & Research Muhammad Abid Javed has said that special attention is being given to the Halal food sector it has the ability to give a quantum jump to the national exports.
He was speaking here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Thursday. The LCCI President Abdul Basit and former President Shahzad Ali Malik also spoke on the occasion while former Vice Presidents Aftab Ahmed Vohra, Abuzar Shad, Mian Zahid Javed, Muhammad Arshad Chaudhry, Ali Hussam Asghar, Tehmina Saeed Chaudhry, former Executive Committee Members Rehmatullah Javed, Naseeb Ahmed Saifee, Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed and Ghulam Sarwar Malik were present in the meeting.
Federal Secretary said that Rice Research Institute is continuously working in to introduce new varieties and recently two new varieties have been introduced that would help enhance rice exports. He said that there is a high demand for Pakistani basmati rice in the global market. He said that import of tomato from India has been stopped as country has enough production to meet the domestic demand.
The LCCI President Abdul Basit said that Pakistan is an agrarian economy could not be able to draw the potential benefits of this sector. It is a matter of concern concern that during fiscal year of 2015-2016, the performance of agriculture sector as a whole remained dismal.
He said that unlike other sectors of economy, the agriculture sector witnessed a negative growth of 0.19% against 2.53% growth during the same period last year. The growth of crops also declined by 6.25%, while the other sub component of agriculture sector like livestock, forestry and fishing posted positive growth of 3.63%, 8.84% and 3.25%, respectively.
“It is really unfortunate that we lag terribly behind in producing the desired results. It is high time that our farmers and local entrepreneurs related to food and its associated sectors must be motivated to modernize their processes. For that matter, the Ministry of National Food Security can play pivotal role”, Abdul Basit added.
He said that since there are number of research institutions working under the control of the ministry, so, it is suggested that they should take this responsibility to highlight the benefits of adopting new ways and technologies to increase the existing low level of agri yield. We believe that there can be better results if the cost factor of availing such facilities is as minimized as possible.
Former LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik said that the total size of Halal market in global trade is around 3 trillion dollars and Pakistan has insignificant share in it. We have a natural base for producing Halal products and this unique characteristic should be aggressively marketed to earn appropriate share.
He said that in addition to 5 exports oriented sectors which have been declared zero-rated, the food sector should also be awarded the same status. This step will encourage the exports of agri-produce and eventually our farmers will be able to fetch better prices.
Shahzad Ali Malik said that it is the age of hybrid technology and every sector of economy is focusing on it. For agriculture sector, the hybrid seeds are mostly imported from other countries. We are of the view that maximum facilities and incentives should be given to local hybrid seed producers so that they could be able to contribute more. Likewise, the government should encourage them to expand their production capacity to be able to export hybrid seeds. These efforts will also play important role in giving boost to agri-produce and job creation.
He said that all seed materials are tested by federal agency throughout Pakistan. We demand that the same institution should be made responsible for issuance of legal documents which will make it easy to market these seeds all across the country. Our members have experienced great hurdles by the provincial agriculture regulatory bodies in this connection.