The USAID-funded Punjab Enabling Environment Project (PEEP) and the Punjab Food Department are working to modernize the provincial agriculture sector with 200 new silos to ensure food security, price stabilization and storage of grains according to international food standards.
This was told to the participants of a seminar on “Modernization of Grains Storage Sector” jointly organized by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, USAID and Punjab Food Department here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Thursday. The LCCI President Abdul Basit, Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa, Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan, Secretary Punjab Food Department Shoukat Ali, Deputy Mission Director of USAID/Pakistan Julie Chen and stakeholders from public and private sectors spoke on the occasion.
Deputy Mission Director of USAID Julie Chen remarked that the United States recognizes that Pakistan is the ninth largest wheat producing country in the world. The wheat sector is a critical part of Pakistan’s overall economy and has great potential to generate investment that creates employment and improves the lives of rural communities. USAID is committed to work with both the public and private sectors to ensure the sustainability of such socio-economic programs.
She said that USAID assisted the Punjab Food Department in developing a proposal for construction of grain silo storage facilities under a public-private partnership arrangement.
Secretary Punjab Food Department Shoukat Ali said that the Punjab Food Department has been entrusted by the government of Punjab to establish 200 near-farm silos with a capacity of around 2 million metric tons to ensure safety, security and optimal nutrition of stored wheat throughout the year. He said that partnership with USAID will help us achieve this milestone by generating private sector investments and creating job opportunities.
The LCCI President Abdul Basit said that “It is really appreciative of USAID that they are facilitating a project for establishing 200 grain silos at selected sites on wheat areas of Punjab through public private partnership on Build-Own-Operate mode. This step will certainly contribute to a great deal in storing wheat on modern lines which will substantially reduce the post-harvest losses. Considering the extreme weather conditions of Pakistan, it has become urgent need of the hour to secure grains by way of adopting latest and viable technologies.”
Abdul Basit said that Fresh fruits and vegetables are highly sensitive to mechanical injury owing to their tender texture. Poor handling and improper packing during transportation are the causes of bruising, cutting, breaking, and other forms of damaging fresh fruits and vegetables. He said that occurrence of fungi, bacteria and insects etc., cause post-harvest losses in fruits and vegetables. Micro-organisms attack fresh produce and spread rapidly. It is estimated that 15 to 40 percent fruits and vegetables are wasted due to these factors.
The LCCI Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa said that the control of post-harvest decay is increasingly becoming a difficult task because pesticides available for it are rapidly declining as consumers’ concern for food safety is increasing. He recommended that concerned department and international agencies like USAID should also introduce modern ways of handling fresh fruits and vegetables from farms to markets. This sector has immense potential to earn foreign exchange for Pakistan and these steps can greatly help in exploiting it.
The LCCI Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan hoped that the partnership among the public and private sectors will continue to grow and USAID will keep expanding its scope of activities in collaboration with us. He also assured full cooperation from the platform of Lahore Chamber to materialize these objectives.