Technology transfer, CPEC and agro industry


Naveed Aman Khan

Pakistan expects to use the multi-billion-dollar Chinese investment to significantly enhance its industrial capacity and economic productivity backed by greater energy supply. It anticipates doing this through improved geographical linkages and upgraded road, rail and air transportation systems that facilitate a higher volume of trade flow. It is also eyeing opportunities of transfer of knowledge and technology with its Chinese counterparts. There has been significant progress in the twenty one industrial, eight infrastructure and twelve Gwadar-related projects that have commenced under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) banner with several industrial projects now being operational. Four rail-based mass transit and six provincial projects are also in different stages of feasibility and beyond. In addition to this, nine Special Economic Zones have also been proposed to be set up as part of the CPEC to boost industrial development.

The federal government will set up two SEZs, including the development of an industrial park at Port Qasim near Karachi with 1,500 acres of land. The second SEZ will be in the Islamabad Capital Territory; FATA, AJK, GB and the provinces will have one SEZ each, as well. Punjab aspires to set up an Economic Zone along the M-2 motorway in Sheikhupura district (5,000 acres). Sindh will establish its Special Economic Zone at Dhabeji, 80 km from the Karachi airport (1,000 acres). Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will set up Rashakai Economic Zone at Nowshera (1,000 acres) for fruit, food packaging, textile, stitching and knitting industries. Balochistan will set up an SEZ in Bostan, 23 km from Quetta airport (1,000 acres with 200 acres being developed already) for industries of fruit processing, agriculture machinery, pharmaceuticals, motorbikes assembly, cooking oil, ceramics, cold storage and electrical appliances. Gilgit-Baltistan will establish an SEZ at Moqpondass (250 acres) while AJK will establish a SEZ at Bhimber. In FATA, a boundary wall has been constructed around the Mohmand Marble City with 60 per cent of the site having been developed and the remaining expected to be completed very soon.

There is a wide scope for joint ventures between Pakistani and Chinese SMEs, especially in the fields of logistics, trucking, warehousing, fisheries, horticulture, minerals, food processing, construction dairy and livestock, ICT and allied service, light engineering, apparel and cold storage and supply chain business, etc. The corridor offers enormous opportunities for industry-led economic growth in Pakistan if we are able to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

Productivity enhancement issue has been focused for every country of the world so as to increase the agricultural supply. The average annual growth attained by Pakistan is attributed to technological progress along with investment in agricultural related physical infrastructure and agricultural research and extension. During Green Revolution, most of the countries in Asia experienced the pivotal role of technological change in enhancing agricultural productivity. Among all types of agricultural expenditures, agricultural research and development is the most important in increasing agricultural productivity and ensuring food security. Various studies have been conducted to explore relationship between public investment and agricultural productivity. In case of Pakistan, a few attempts have been made to determine the relationship between agricultural research and agricultural output with the conclusion that agriculture research has a positive and significant impact on agriculture productivity and yields high rate of return.

The real constraints to transforming Pakistan’s agriculture are related to weak and fragmented markets with substantial government intervention especially non-performing land markets, inefficient allocation and use of irrigation water, regulatory environment that discourages investment and reduces market efficiency, primitive rural non-farm economy and limited interface with the modern business practices, rapidly declining public investment with serious under-investment in research and technology development and almost non-existent extension and outreach.

It is further projected that there will be immense pressure on limited surface as well as ground water resources. These challenges could be managed through adopting soil and water conservation technologies, enhanced use of high efficiency irrigation systems, developing drought resistant varieties and introducing climate smart agriculture.

Pakistan needs to upgrade its industry and agriculture technologically. To meet the national needs appropriately conservative ways and means will never work. China has achieved the goal of self sufficiency by opting latest technology. Conservative ways and means have gone obsolete. To meet the needs of 1.35 billion Chinese, the Government of China has decided to go by modern technology. On an emergency basis Pakistan will have to shift its agriculture and Industry on most modern and sophisticated means by all means. (The writer is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad)