CPEC Parliamentary Committee holds meeting

Islamabad: The 29th meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was held in National Agriculture Research Centre, Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Sher Ali Arbab.

The Committee was briefed by Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security & Research and Chairman, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council regarding Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and other projects related to agriculture sector.

The Chairman PARC, while sharing 10 years development targets under CPEC, briefed the Committee that PARC’s aim is to change Pakistan from cotton import country to cotton export country and save foreign exchange of 1.5 billion USD. Besides renovation of existing orchards, introduction of new varieties, reducing post-harvest losses, improving value chain and development of rural industries are major proposed interventions. The Committee also paid visit to the exhibition at National Agriculture Research Centre where a comprehensive briefing was given to the Committee by concerned regarding Agro-tech Company, aquaculture and fisheries program, Honeybee Research Institute, alternative energy use in agriculture and vegetable and fruit crops cultivation processes.

The Chairman remarked that historically agriculture has been backbone of Pakistan’s economy and a potential source of employment for the people of Pakistan. We need to strengthen this diminishing sector under CPEC framework. It is therefore imperative that Pakistan need not to rely on China for technological transfer rather boost its capacity building and enhance the areas of research to encourage indigenous technological innovations and modernize its agriculture sector.

The Committee observed that the research which is being generated by PARC to enhance agricultural production needs to be collaborated with Ministry of Commerce and other concerned to check economic viability of that agricultural commodities so that Pakistan’s vast agriculture potential could be utilized in enhancing agricultural exports. Moreover, it was noted that China imports meat of worth 48 billion dollars from other countries.

Taking Pakistan’s huge potential in livestock and other food processing items into account, there is an exigency of meeting international food standards and initiate negotiations with China to remove anomalies and enhance Pakistan’s exports in these areas. This is how Pakistan’s engagement with China can be made more prolific and constructive under CPEC framework.

The Committee remarked that farmers are the major stakeholders of agriculture sector. It is concerning that seeds of various crops are not being provided to farmers timely. Bottlenecks in this regard need to be removed to ensure fair and timely distribution of crops seeds to the farmers so that by resolving farmers’ issues agricultural productivity could be enhanced and agriculture sector could be made more beneficial for these important stakeholders. In the light of these issues, Hon. Chairman remarked that selected group of farmers from all provinces and regions would be invited to convey their issues to PARC so that their problems could be resolved and recommended to Members to send the list of issues which they believe are important to be addressed so that Committee may take up those issues with PARC and resolve them accordingly.

The Committee further added that vast potential of agriculture sector if exploited prudently and effectively will vehemently alter the socio-economic landscape of our country, bring lasting economic benefits and strengthen the process of industrialization under CPEC framework. Therefore more focused and integrated efforts are required to revive agriculture sector and further utilize its potential for ensuring inclusive economic growth and development.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Noor Alam Khan, MNA, Mr. Sadaqat Ali Khan Abbasi, MNA, Mr. Umer Aslam Khan, MNA, Ms. Nafeesa Inayatullah Khan Khattak, MNA, Mr. Ghous Bux Khan Mahar, MNA, Mr. Murtaza Javed Abbasi, MNA, Ms. Mehnaz Akber Aziz, MNA, Mr. Raza Rabani Khar, MNA and Senator Mir Kabir Ahmed Muhammad Shahi.