Punjab will have genetically modified maize seed in 2018

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): Genetically modified maize seed will be available in Punjab next year as the Punjab Seed Corporation (PSC) is in a final process to approve the technology. Experts informed journalists about the development at the Crop Technology Annual Farmer Expo 2017. Monsanto Pakistan hosted the event on Tuesday at its research facility in Manga Mandi. Corn is emerging as an important crop in Pakistan with yields having tripled over the past 15 years, almost entirely driven by access to high yielding hybrid seeds. At present Pakistan is self-sufficient in corn, with over 60 percent of its produce utilised for animal feed, whereas the remaining is consumed by various other industries and food processing facilities. However, considering the ever-increasing demand for corn, including the impressive 10-12 percent growth shown by the poultry industry, corn crop productivity is going to be critical towards ensuring food security for future generations. Genetically modified seed of maize is currently not available in Pakistan.

Experts say the seed has worldwide recognition due to high yield quality and its resistance against pests and herbicides.

Monsanto’s annual expo was attended by 800 farmers from across Punjab Punjab Seed Corporation MD Dr Usman Ali Khan and Agriculture Research DG Dr Abid Mahmood also visited the event. They were briefed on Monsanto’s latest technology. Monsanto Pakistan showcased its latest bio-tech corn seed technology together with high performance hybrid seed products. The farmer expo had more than 25 exhibits by several related businesses and organisations, including Punjab Directorate of Information, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Lahore University of Management Sciences, agriculture machinery manufacturers, fertiliser companies, silage solution providers and Financial service providers.

On the occasion, Lance Wang, Vice President South East Asia and Pakistan explained, “Monsanto is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. We remain focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving natural resources such as water and energy.”

Aamir Mirza, Pakistan Country Lead, reaffirmed Monsanto’s commitment to delivering latest seed and technology solutions to Pakistani farmers. While sharing his views on the growth prospects of agriculture sector in Pakistan, Mirza said, “Monsanto’s biotech corn seed has been granted approval by the federal government and will be available to farmers after fulfilling registration requirements in the province. The new biotech corn will have an insect resistant feature along with herbicide tolerance that will enable Pakistani farmers to enhance productivity, reduce input and labour cost and improve grain quality.”

APCMA concerned over decline in

cement exports

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has expressed dismay at the continued decline in exports particularly from Southern part of the country that is nearer to the seaport. The APCMA spokesperson said that the robust construction activities within the country are supporting the cement sector but it still is sitting on some idle capacity that could be exported through government facilitations like sharing the transport cost. He said that the cement production capacities are likely to increase in near future and the industry would require export base to operate at optimum capacity. In the past, the government had a scheme of ‘freight subsidy” to facilitate the cement exporters from reaching the seaport in order to export the cement, which can be restored to improve export. He also called for lowering of punitive duties on cement that has made it costly for the construction sector and especially hurting the middle class aspiring to construct a home.

According to the data, the export sector continued to register a huge decline, which was down by over 23 percent in September 2017 as compared to same period of 2016.

The exports from north region fell 16.27 percent from 0.368 million tons in September 2016 to 0.308 million tons in September 2017. Exports from the South region dropped considerably to 0.093 million tons only in September 2017 from 0.155 million tons in the same month last year, registering a decline of 39.63 percent. The region during this period exported 0.953 million tons of cement that was 7.41 percent less than the exports during same period last year ie 1.029 million tons.

 Honey processing centre

operationalised in Swat

PESHAWAR (Bureau Report): Honey Processing and Packaging Common Facility Centre (CFC), established at Mingora (Swat) under the federal government funded Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), has been formally operationalised. The project initiated with a proposed amount of Rs38.17 million is sponsored by the Ministry of Industry and Production and executed by Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Office. The executing agency would also be responsible for ownership and management of the project. Federal Minister for Industries and Production Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi inaugurated the project during his recent two-day visit to the region. Besides, Smeda CEO Sher Ayub Khan, Smeda General Manager Javed Iqbal Khattak, Swat Chamber of Commerce and Industry president and a large number of business activities attended the inauguration ceremony.

Furthermore, the project would also be operated and maintained by staff hired for the purpose with institutional support, monitoring and implementation of Smeda through project manager and other hired staff. Talking to this scribe, Project Director, Honey Processing and Packaging Common Facility Centre (CFC), Ishfaq Afridi told that the objectives of the project are to provide proper honey extracting, processing facilities, honey cleaning and packing facilities to the honey bee farmers, honey traders and honey exporters at their door steps.

The project will also support to add value through better bottling and packing, improve quality of the product through state-of-the-art technology, increase profitability through lower transportation costs and to open up new markets and increase export of honey by providing the international standard facility to the cluster stakeholders. The facility, he said, will play a vital role in the development of honey bee cluster in the area, which due to natural beauty and pleasant climate is famous for tourism across the globe. Tourists used to come and spend their seasonal vacations in pleasant and natural environment and natural honey of Swat is a famous gift for the tourists because of its natural taste and purity.

He said the facility will enhance the productivity, quality and branding of honey and honey by-products. In addition, more than 1,200 bee keeping farmers can be encouraged towards commercialisation of their product with international techniques to bring more employment and business opportunities to Swat.

Honey is a popular sweetener throughout the world and according to an Associated Marketing survey conducted for the National Honey Board in 1997, almost 77 percent of US households use honey along with other sweetener and syrups and 45 percent of them consider honey a good value because it is natural. Good quality honey has high demand in international market and it has the potential to generate substantial foreign exchange for the country. Another bee product, bee wax is high value commodity with application in cosmetics, candies and paint industries.

Ishfaq Afridi further told that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is self-sufficient in honey production and is now able to export prime quality product at competitive price in the open global market. Honey industry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is spread over in different districts of the province and the belts of Swat, Naran, Kaghan and southern districts like Karak, Kohat, Haripur of Hazara and some areas of FATA have tremendous potential for fostering the honey industry.

There are many types of honey produced in KP, but Seder (Ber in Urdu) and Acacia Modesta (Plai in Urdu) are produced more in quantity. The total number of the bee keepers’ entrepreneurs in the province is about 3,800 and direct employment in these farms are 17,500 people.

The establishment of the modern honey processing plant was proposed by Smeda on the basis of honey bee cluster studies and analysis, to facilitate the production of refined high quality honey that could be utilised for bulk consumption in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics or food processing industry or can be sold in the lucrative international market.

The plant would have sophisticated equipment with adequate capability to process apiary as well as forest honey on large scale. The facility has been installed on an area of one kanal piece of land are having four key modules including collection centre, processing zone, bottling and packing unit and warehouse. The plant established in coordination with All Pakistan Honey Bee Keepers Traders and Exporters Association will provide facility of modern processing at Rs6 per kg and packaging at Rs3 per kg to the stakeholders of the area.

The revenue of the said project will directly be deposited to the treasury account of the government of Pakistan. The CFC has the capacity to process approximately 2,000kg of honey in eight hours shift daily and pack 1,500-2,000 bottles (1kg) on daily basis.

 PEC holds seminar on dams engineering

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): The participants of a seminar have called for construction of new dams, asserting that being an agrarian economy, Pakistan cannot afford to waste huge amount of water resources which are depleting fast. They said that shortage of water has not only caused undue damage to the agriculture sector but also the manufacturing sector.  The seminar was organised by Pakistan Engineering Congress on the topic of “Discussion of last 50 years of dam engineering with speculation of next half century”. The key speaker was Dr Peter Mason. Engr Ch Ghulam Hussain, President Pakistan Engineering Congress, in his welcome address, said that Dr Mason is a renowned expert on dams engineering and currently a member of the Panel of Experts on Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project. Dr Mason has to his credit over 50 years of rich experience on dam engineering. He started his professional career in 1969 with renowned UK Engineering firm of Sir Alexander Gilb and Partners (Gilb) and served for 28 years.

 Incidentally, Gilb were engaged as World Bank Consultants for implementation of Indus Basin Project. Presently, he is working with MWH as Technical Director, International Dams and Hydropower.

Dr Peter Mason, in his technical lecture, pointed out the relative merits and demerits of different types of dams. Over the last half century the dam engineering design has gone through a significant transformation from the conventional to state-of-art one. However, considering the structures still being constructed the dam types are earth fill dams, rock fill dams, concrete dams, arch-cum-gravity and roller compacted concrete (RCC).

The current trend in Pakistan is predominantly leaning towards RCC dams. There must be definite technical merit for the case, but some quarters are suggesting that the fill dams should also be revisited in view of peculiar regional seismo-tectonic setting.

Participants of the lecture said that it is a matter of concern that almost 9 million hectors of fertile land is not being cultivated due to unavailability of water. They said that nation couldn't waste any more time therefore the government should pave way for early construction of KBD which was the only solution of water and electricity shortage. They said that Pakistan economy is based on agriculture sector which cannot survive without sufficient water resources. They said that the existing dams are constantly silting up leaving ever decreasing capacity to store water.