PIAF felicitates new body of APPMA

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): While congratulating the new businessmen group of All Pakistan Paper Merchants Association (APPMA) who won the elections unopposed for 10th time consecutively, the PIAF Chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh hoped that the newly-elected body will utilise their best abilities to serve the traders attached with this business. He was addressing a reception held for their honour and attended by PIAF leadership including Mian Anjum Nisar, Tanveer Sufi and Kh Shahzeb Akram. On the occasion, newly elected office-bearers urged the government to help curtail import duty on paper and paperboard and it should be included in the category of semi-finished material for printing and packaging. They said that the government should allow duty-free import of paper used for printing of text books. They said that it would help the students to get text books on cheaper rates. The new body presented the annual report of APPMA besides giving details about the APPMA performance during the outgoing year.

The PIAF chairman addressing the reception said that PIAF will leave no stone unturned to promote the paper and paperboard sector which is doing a social service by keeping the education in the reach of common man. He said that APPMA is playing a significant role for the promotion of education sector. He urged the newly elected office-bearers of the APPMA to forward their proposals to the PIAF as well as the LCCI so that the issue being faced by them could be taken up with concerned government circles.

Swiss ambassador interacts with rice growers

ISLAMABAD (APP): Ambassador of Switzerland to Pakistan, Marc P George participated in a training session for rice growers and interacted with the farmers on Tuesday. The capacity building training workshop was organised by Rice Partners Pvt Ltd (RPL) in collaboration with MARS food, Helvetas Swiss Inter-cooperation in Sheikhupura, says a statement issued here on Tuesday. The Swiss ambassador was briefed about the Rice Partners contracting and control farming programme to improve the farmer's livelihood by the Chief operating Officer Muhammad Ali Tariq. The chief operating officer said they are promoting sustainable rice production and water productivity in rice value chain with support of SDC, Helvetas Inter-cooperation and MARS food. He further said RPL started this contract farming programme in 2011 with 31 farmers and now in 2017 RPL has more than 600 farmers in their contract, whom they procure rice/paddy every year, and send quality rice to the global market.

Moreover, RPL has trained more than 10,000 farmers in sustainable agriculture, water productivity crop in rice value chain and crop management. RPL contract farming programme help the farmers a lot in terms of low cost on crop production, water efficiency in the rice cultivation and livelihoods of the farmers have been improved.

The Swiss Ambassador appreciated the unique model of contract farming system in rice value chain by RPL, The ambassador also addressed the rice farmers and said that his country also had the same water shortage issue but they have resolved it with good management. He said, “No country can alleviate poverty and hunger without agriculture, and similarly no country in the globe can tackle this challenge alone, we must work all together.” He further said that he is happy that the Swiss government is supporting the farmers of Pakistan to preserve the natural resources and produce quality product for entire world.

He also discussed the historical relation of Pakistan and Switzerland and role of SDC for empowering the communities of Pakistan. The ambassador also visited the rice processing plant and took briefing about details of plant, machinery and working system.

WAPRO Project Manager Zafar Iqbal gave a comprehensive presentation to the ambassador about contract farming system, outline of WAPRO project and its vitality in implementation of global best practices for improving resource use efficiency. He explained multiple interventions initiated under the WAPRO project like Land Laser Levelling, direct seeding of rice, use of AWD tubes to save irrigation water and post-harvest management practices to reduce harvest losses.

Experts call for value addition in dates

KARACHI (APP): One-day date exhibition was held on Tuesday at Karachi Expo Centre, where many varieties of dates from Sindh and Balochistan were displayed for local and foreign buyers. A seminar on "Value-addition to Dates" was also organised on the sideline. It was attended by researchers and senior officers of the concerned departments of Sindh and federal governments, representatives of dates’ growers of Sindh and Balochistan, traders of dates. These events were organised by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce. Sindh Agriculture Secretary Sajjid Jamal Narejo and TDAP Director General Dr Usman Narejo along with a team of senior researchers on dates took round of the dates stalls from Sindh and Balochistan under the banners of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of United Nations (Balochistan Chapter), Sindh Enterprises Development Fund, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, Sukkur Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sindh Agricultural Growth Project - Date-palm Value Chain, Sukkur Division.

In Balochistan, the main areas of dates crop are Turbat, Panjgur, Washuq, Kharaan and Chagai. Khairpur and Ranipur districts are the centres of dates growing in Sindh. Sindh Food Agriculture Secretary Sajjid Jamal Abro, speaking at the seminar, said the provincial government was doing a lot for the growth and marketing of dates. Big investment had been done in the Dates Research Institute, Kot Deji, near Khairpur City. Now, this facility has been upgraded as a full fledged research institute. Training is also being given to the dates’ growers in tissue culture. Millions of date-palm plants had been provided to the growers to strengthen the base of dates crop. Khajur Mandi was being constructed in Khairpur for proper marketing of dates crop. There would be processing facilities as well, the secretary said. Under Sindh Agriculture Growth Project, the dates growers were being provided assistance from cultivation to marketing.

TDAP's Director General Dr Usman Narejo spoke of the initiatives the authority for promotion of dates exports. Dr Waqar from Institute of Business Administration, Sukkur and Dr Ghulam Hussain Markhand from Khairpur University emphasized on value addition of dates to get the real value of large stock of dates being exported from Pakistan. Pakistan is sixth largest dates producer in the world and exports around two million tons of dates of total eight million tons world exports. But, Dr Markhand regretted, Pakistan was not included among top ten dates exporting countries because of lack of value-addition and marketing strategy.

The stall holders from Sindh and Balochistan complained of lack of processing and marketing facilities. Instead, they had to sell their raw products to middlemen at very low price. Most of their dates produce, they said, was being shifted to Lahore where it was processed/value-added for the export.

Tea imports up by over 9pc in July

ISLAMABAD (APP): Tea imports into the country increased by 9.08 percent during the first month of the current fiscal year compared to the imports of the same month of last year. Pakistan imported tea worth $45.919 million during July 2017 compared to the imports of $42.097 million in July 2016, showing a growth of 9.08 percent, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) latest data. In terms of quantity, the tea imports however decreased by 4.33 percent as these declined from the imports of 17,584 metric tons in July 2016 to 16,822 metric tons in July 2017. Meanwhile, on month-on-month basis, the tea imports into the country increased by 39.21 percent in July 2017 when compared to the imports of $32.987 million in June 2017. In terms of quantity, the tea imports went up by 39.45 percent in July 2017 when compared to the imports of 12,063 metric tons in June 2016. Overall food imports into the country increased by 43.15 percent in July 2017 compared to the imports of the same month of last year.

The food group imports into the country in July 2017 stood at $534.693 million as against the imports of $373.512 million. On month-on-month basis, the food imports into the country increased by 9.51 percent in July 2017 when compared to the imports of $488.240 million in June 2017, the PBS data revealed. It is pertinent to mention here that the overall merchandise imports during the first month of the current fiscal year (July 2017) increased by 36.74 percent compared to July 2016. The imports into the country during July 2017 were recorded at $4.835 billion compared to the imports of $3.536 billion. On the other hand, the exports from the country witnessed 10.58 percent increase compared to the corresponding month of last year.

Pakistan exported goods worth $1.631 billion in July 2017 compared to the exports of $1.475 billion in July 2016, showing upward growth of 10.58 percent.