LAHORE - Pak-China Economic Corridor will open up new avenues of cooperation in agriculture sectors as it would be paving the way for the transfer of technology pertaining to chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and seeds.

This was the upshot of the speeches delivered at the opening ceremony of first CAC Pakistan Summit jointly organized by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and CCPIT Sub Council for Chemical Industry with the support of Punjab government.

Provincial Minister for Agriculture Dr Furrakh Javaid, Exhibition coordinator Engineer Jawed Salim Qureshi, LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari, Vice Chairman CCPIT Sub-Council for Chemical Industry Ms Ma Chunyan and country’s noted agri experts were the speakers.

The agriculturists suggested the government that instead of providing subsidy of Rs14 billion on sale of DAP fertilizer it should give relief to farmers in sales tax on agri inputs. There was a consensus among all the speakers that Pak-China Hybrid Wheat Industrialization Cooperation Agreement would greatly help in the development of Pakistan’s agriculture sector through new varieties of seeds.

Provincial Minister for Agriculture Dr Furrakh Javaid said that the CAC Summit and Exhibition is a unique opportunity for Pakistan’s agriculturists as it would enable them to learn about the Chinese expertise in the agriculture sector. He said that Chinese cooperation in all fields of the economy is matchless.

He said that the Punjab government was taking every possible step to strengthen agriculture sector that is evident from the fact that it has give flat rate of Rs 10.35 per unit for the tube-wells.

The Minister expressed the resolve that a subsidy of Rs 14 billion for the agriculture sector would be disbursed after the consultation of the stakeholders so that the benefit could reach the right quarters.

Exhibition Coordinator Engineer Jawed Salim Qureshi complained that farmers are not benefiting from the government’s subsidy on fertilizers, as this subsidy has never been passed onto growers and real beneficiary are always manufacturers and industrialists.

“Instead of giving Rs400 subsidy on DAP bag, the govt should remove sales tax on agri inputs, directly reducing the rates of pesticides and fertilizers by around 20 per cent.  He said that the cost of inputs for agricultural produces had increased sharply while imposition of GST would further add the cost by 18 per cent.”

Jawed Qureshi said that the government would have to strengthen the institutional framework to provide much need support to this sector. He said that Punjab’s agriculture sector could generate extra revenue of over Rs.100 billion if agri inputs prices are controlled.

LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari stressed the need for public-private dialogue as a prerequisite to revolutionize the agriculture sector that holds the key to progress and prosperity. He said that it was the only area where a little attention could do miracle as it does not need that amount of electricity required to run the industrial wheel. He said that Pakistan was the only country of the South Asia to have CAC exhibition that would certainly strengthen Pakistan’s agriculture sector.

He also called for construction of water reservoirs as the shortage of water could pose a serious threat to this sector in coming years. “This is white oil but unfortunately we are more focused to the black oil instead of taking care of our future generations that are likely to suffer because of water shortage.”

Vice Chairman CCPIT Sub-Council for Chemical Industry Ms Ma Chunyan said that the trade of pesticide has an important role in the total two-way business of $12 billion. She said that in 2013, pesticides amounting to $172 million were imported from China while import of fertilizer remained at $309 million. She said that Chinese seeds are equally popular in Pakistan.

She said that the Chinese cooperation with Pakistani agriculturists would write new success stories in coming years. She said that the CAC Exhibition has in its fold chemical, machinery, seeds, pesticides and fertilizers etc.