“Mediocrity is accepted everywhere in Pakistan so why not in Art?” questions Quddus Mirza
July 7, 2009
Anatomy of the problem…
July 12, 2009

When the government officials, public institutions and state-owned assets are all for sale, what’s six million acres of farmland between friends? Is this a wise move? Find out... By Ahmed Humayun


When the government officials, public institutions and state-owned assets are all for sale, what’s six million acres of farmland between friends? Is this a wise move? Find out…

Dolce & Gabbana

Pakistan For Sale

There are two parallel agendas driving two kinds of land grabbers. The first track is food security. A number of countries which rely on food imports and are worried about tightening markets, while they do have cash to throw around, are seeking to outsource their domestic food production by gaining control of farms in other countries.

They see this as an innovative long-term strategy to feed their people at a good price and with far greater security than hitherto. Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, India, Korea, Libya and Egypt all fall into this basket. High-level officials from many of these nations have been on the road since March 2008 in a diplomatic treasure hunt for fertile farmland in places like Uganda, Brazil, Cambodia, Sudan and Pakistan. Given the continuing Darfur crisis, where the World Food Program is trying to feed 5.6 million refugees, it might seem crazy that foreign governments are buying up farmland in Sudan to produce and export food for their own citizens. Ditto in Cambodia, where 100,000 families, or half a million people, currently lack food. Yet this is what is happening today. Convinced that farming opportunities are limited and the market can’t be relied upon, “food insecure” governments are shopping for land elsewhere to produce their own food. At the other end, those governments being courted for the use of their countries’ farmland are generally welcoming these offers of fresh foreign investment.

The second track is financial returns. Given the current financial meltdown, all sorts of players in the finance and food industries – the investment houses that manage workers’ pensions, private equity funds looking for a fast turnover, hedge funds driven off the now collapsed derivatives market, grain traders seeking new strategies for growth are turning to land, for both food and fuel production, as a new source of profit. To get a return, investors need to raise the productive capacities of the land and sometimes even get their hands dirty actually running a farm.

Experts say the agriculture investments could be a win-win situation. The Gulf gains food security, while poorer developing countries benefit from added jobs and improved technology. But there are concerns, too. The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Jacques Diouf, has warned that foreign land acquisition and long-term leasing schemes, if done poorly, risk creating a neocolonial pact” and “unacceptable work conditions for agricultural workers.”

Even so, some countries are seeking out investment. The food security land grab is the one that most people have been hearing about, with newspapers reporting that Saudi Arabia and China are out buying farmland all over the world, from Somalia to Kazakhstan. But there are many more countries involved. A closer look reveals an impressive list of food security land grabbers: China, India, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea in Asia; Egypt and Libya in Africa; and Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East.

The situation of these countries varies a great deal, of course. China is remarkably self-sufficient in food. But it has a huge population, its agricultural lands have been disappearing to industrial development, its water supplies are under serious stress and the Communist Party has a long-term future to think of, it should surprise no one that food security is high on the Chinese  government’s agenda. And with more than US$1.8 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, China has deep pockets from which to invest in its own food security abroad. As many farmers’ leaders and activists in south-east Asia know, Beijing has been gradually outsourcing part of its food production since well before the global food crisis broke out in 2007. Through China’s new geopolitical diplomacy, and the government’s aggressive “Go Abroad” outward investment strategy, some 30 agricultural cooperation deals have been sealed in recent years to give Chinese firms access to “friendly country” farmland in exchange for Chinese technologies, training and infrastructure development funds. Chinese companies leasing or buying up land, setting up large farms, flying in farmers, scientists and extension workers, and getting down to the work of crop production.

Most of China’s offshore farming is dedicated to the cultivation of rice, soya beans and maize, along with bio-fuel crops like sugar cane, cassava or sorghum. The rice produced abroad invariably means hybrid rice, grown from imported Chinese seeds, and Chinese farmers and scientists are enthusiastically teaching Africans and others to grow rice “the Chinese way.” However, local farm workers are hired to work the Chinese farms.

The Gulf States – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – face a totally different reality.

As nations built in the desert, they have scarce soil and water with which to grow crops or raise livestock. But they do possess enormous amounts of oil and money, which gives them powerful leverage to rely on foreign countries for their food. The current food crisis has hit the Gulf States exceptionally hard. Because they depend on food from abroad (especially from Europe) and their currencies are pegged to the US dollar, the simultaneous rise in food prices on the world market and the fall in the US dollar have meant that they have imported a lot of “extra inflation.” Their food import bill has ballooned in the last five years from US$8bn to US$20bn. When the food crisis exploded, and rice supplies from Asia were cut off, Gulf leaders made fast calculations and came to hard conclusions. The Saudis decided that, given impending water shortages, it would make sense to stop producing wheat, their main food item, by 2016 and, instead, to grow and ship it over from elsewhere, provided that the whole process was firmly under their own control. The United Arab Emirates, 80 percent of whose population is migrant workers, most of them rice eaters from Asia, panicked. Under the aegis of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), they banded together with Bahrain and the other Gulf nations to formulate a collective strategy of outsourcing food production. Their idea is to secure deals, particularly in sister Islamic countries, by which they will supply capital and oil contracts in exchange for guarantees that their corporations will have access to farmland and be able to export the produce back home. The most heavily targeted states are, by far, Sudan and Pakistan. The seriousness of the Gulf States’ drive should not be underestimated.

Between March and August 2008, individual GCC countries or industrial consortia leased under contract millions of hectares of farmland. Leaders of the GCC are planning to finalize official policy on this.

Japan and South Korea, for instance, are two rich countries whose governments have opted to rely on imports rather than self-sufficiency to feed their people. Both get around 60 percent of their food from abroad. Early in 2008, the Korean government announced that it was formulating a national plan to facilitate land acquisitions abroad for Korean food production. Indeed, Korean food corporations are already buying up land in Mongolia and eastern Russia to produce food for export back home.

The new strategy is well under way in Burma, which supplies 1m of the 4m tons of lentils, that India imports each year to supplement its domestic output of 15m tons. Rather than keep buying

from Burma, Indian traders and processors now want to go in and grow the lentils there themselves. It works out cheaper, and they get more control over the entire process. With the government’s support, Indian corporations are getting leases to Burmese farmland to produce the crop for exclusive export to India. The Indian government is providing the Burmese military junta with special new funds to upgrade its port infrastructure, and is aggressively pushing a tailored bilateral free trade and investment agreement to iron out the policy wrinkles between the two states. But it doesn’t stop there. Indian CEOs are also buying up Indonesian palm-oil plantations, and are now boarding planes to Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil to find land to grow pulses and soya beans for export to India. Meanwhile the nation’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, is quickly trying to change India’s laws so that it may issue Indian private companies, with the loans they need to purchase farmland overseas. Such a possibility has never been contemplated before, so the rules don’t exist.

The Gulf States, among other land grabbers, are quite lucid about their intention to (a) secure food supplies through direct ownership or control of foreign farmland, and (b) exclude traders and other middlemen as much as possible in order to cut their food import bills by 20–25 percent. Indeed, they have been forced to go to places like Islamabad and Bangkok and ask the governments there to lift their export bans on rice just for their special farms. The underlying contempt that all of this shows for open markets and free trade, so much lauded by Western advisers over the last four decades, is glaring.

Another fundamental issue is that workers, farmers and local communities will inevitably lose access to land for local food production. The very basis on which to build food sovereignty is simply being bartered away. The governments, the investors and the development agencies that are being drawn into these projects will argue that jobs will be created and some food will be left behind. But these don’t replace land and the possibility of working and living off the land. In fact, what should be obvious is that the real problem with the current land grab is not simply the matter of giving foreigners control of domestic farmlands. It’s the restructuring.

For these lands will be transformed from small holdings or forests, whatever they may be, into large industrial estates connected to large far-off markets. Farmers will never be real farmers again, job or no job. This will probably be the biggest consequence.

Pakistan opens more farmland to foreigners

Senator Waqar Ahmed Khan

Senator Waqar Ahmed Khan

Pakistan dramatically increased the amount of farmland open to foreign investors to 6 million acres, but will require outsiders to share half of their crop with local growers, Pakistan’s investment minister told Reuters (May 17,2009). Crop sharing will defuse tensions with local farmers fearful of being crowded out by wealthy foreigners as Pakistan opens existing farmland to outsiders for sale or long-term lease, said Waqar Ahmed Khan, Federal Minister of Investments.

Gulf Arab countries reliant on food imports have ramped up efforts over the last year to buy land in developing nations ranging from Pakistan to the Philippines and Ethiopia. “We expect the investors in farmland to give the local farmers 50 percent of the land’s yield, in addition transferring the technology which will help increase the output of the land by three times,” Khan said during a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to rally investor support. “We have to apply these regulations to support the interests of the local farmers, otherwise we will be facing objections from the farmers, and we need to keep them happy,” he added.

Farmers’ concerns have led the southwestern Pakistan province of Balochistan to block direct deals between private investors based in the UAE and farmers, Nasir Khosa, general chief-secretary of Balochistan’s provincial government, said in April 2009.

The United Nation’s Human Right Council has expressed concern over the sale of farmland and called for a code of conduct. “We will do everything to protect farmers’ interests,” said Khan.

Last month, Khan said the country had a million acres of farmland to offer to investors. “Recently, we have been able to identify around 6 million acres of farmland in various parts of the country which can be leased out on long-term basis or sold,” he said.

Six million acres is the equivalent of 2.43 million hectares. During Pakistan’s Gulf farmland sale road show, a lot of interest came from UAE investors, especially in acquiring farmland to produce animal feed and rearing livestock, said Amjad Nazir, the joint secretary at Pakistan’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

“All week we had meetings with investors from both the private and the public sector and I think very soon we will be sending delegations to study the opportunities here,” said Nazir. Emirates Investment Group, a private-sector investment company based in Sharjah, the third-largest emirate of the UAE, said last month it was in the process of acquiring farmland in Pakistan to export more food to the Gulf region. Last year, private Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Al Qudra said it had plans to start agriculture projects in Pakistan.

To attract the foreign investors, the government would guarantee full exemption from duties and other levies for all equipment imported for farm land projects. In India foreign companies are banned from acquiring farm land but allowed to operate on rented property.

Efforts to sell farmlands began in year 2000 but so far have met significant opposition. For example, an official of Pakistan’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture said in July 2000, “We are working to finalize a policy for introducing corporate agriculture in the country where large farm holdings will be allowed to companies which would seek listing in the stock exchange.” Under the proposal, foreign companies were to be granted a 30-year lease on government-owned land that could be extended for another 20 years. However, food rights campaigners expressed the fear that profit-driven agribusiness transnational companies (TNCs) would use Pakistan as a base for exporting cash crops which would replace staple cereals on the country’s farms.

Huma Fakhar

Huma Fakhar

Huma Fakhar, a market research and trade consultant, said Pakistan is a logical choice for Gulf investments. Fakhar said an investor from Abu Dhabi, whom she declined to name, last year, bought about 16,000 hectares, or 40,000 acres, of farmland in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. Two UAE firms, Emirates Investments Group and Abraaj Capital, have also expressed interest in investing directly in Pakistani agriculture. A few months earlier, some locals from the Makran area expressed their frustration with Arab investors who, were not honoring terms agreed at time of the sale of farm land to the companies. They said that they (local) were promised employment on farms but they (investors) did not fulfill the promise. Instead of cultivating the food crop with the involvement of locals, the contractor subcontracted land to someone else who planted fodder with the help of contract labor brought from areas outside the province.

Pros and cons of corporate farming Federal minister of investment Waqar Ahmad Khan outlining his plan said that in our country 28 million acres of land is barren, with the help of foreign  investors, we can convert the millions of barren acres into cultivated land, which will provide the job opportunity to thousands of people as well as increase the country’s GDP. He further said that the government would provide exemption from taxes and different levies to the foreign investors, that the government would install 100,000 strong security forces to ensure secure environment at farm land. He said that in the new investment policy, foreign investors interested in Pakistani farmland have bound 50 percent partnership with Pakistani farmers.

He said that the agricultural productivity can get a major boost if sufficient companies are facilitated to start business by injecting capital and introducing modern management and technologies.

Our people have displayed great potential in adapting to smart business practices, he further added.

“As food prices skyrocketed over the last two years, countries and state-sponsored companies were quietly snapping up land around the world,” says Abdul Khaliq in an article titled ‘Pakistan offers one million acres of agriculture land to Arab monarchs, Corporate farming to lock up scarce water resources in Agribelts.’ “Few noticed when South Korea began investing in farms in Madagascar, or when China, Japan, Libya, Egypt, and Persian Gulf countries acquired farmlands in Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Mozambique, Uganda, Ethiopia, Brazil, Pakistan, Central Asia, and Russia. The purchases weren’t about land, but water. For with the land comes the right to withdraw the water linked to it. And, because this water has no price, the investors can take it over virtually for free. Their lusty rushing to lock up scarce water resources in agricultural belts is nonetheless disturbing,” he asserts further.

“Most conspicuous aspect of this policy is the absence of labor laws; government has assured investors that labor laws will not be applicable to Corporate Agriculture Companies, which is a clear violation of Human and Labor rights. It is also pertinent to mention that there will be no custom duty and sales tax on import of agricultural machinery, equipment, making significant decrease in tax collection. Dividends from corporate agriculture farms are also not subject to tax while remittance of 100 percent capital and profits are allowed. There will be no upper ceiling on land holding. This ‘grand’ package of incentives projects a nefarious proposal by the government of Pakistan to corporate companies for re-colonizing the country,” he completes.

Rehmat ullah Javed

Rehmat ullah Javed

“Emirates Investment Group is in the process of acquiring farmland in Pakistan to export more food to the Gulf region,” said Rehmat ullah Javed, Chairman standing committee of FPCCI on SMEs. “Instead of selling land it would be better to sell its yield to the people in the Gulf Region. Apparently the decision is a continuation of privatization process, similar to selling shares of PTCL, banks and other state enterprises or attracting foreign investment,” he added.”But if it is seen in depth and historical perspective this can have serious repercussions in the future.”

Selling six million acres of farmland does mean in effect that we are inviting multi-national colonists back to our country once again. It can create security risk for the country and the decision to offer farmland to foreigners lacks vision and foresight, especially since the only draw is short-term gains at the cost of selling the homeland. “The decision is a continuation of privatization process similar to selling shares of state-owned institutions to attract direct foreign investments,” said Mian Abu Zar Shad, former Chairman PIAF, “but if seen in depth and historical perspective, selling six million acres of farmland means once again inviting East India Company to our country.”

Mian Abu Zar Shad Former Chairman PIAF

Mian Abu Zar Shad Former Chairman PIAF

“It is due to the sale of Kashmir to the Dogra Maharaja that Kashmiris were deprived of freedom,” he continued further, “despite the fact that the State of Jammu and Kashmir had an overwhelming majority of Muslim population in 1846 when the Amritsar Treaty was signed and it had 95 percent Muslim population in 1947 and there was no reason as to why it should not become part of Pakistan. Despite the fact Jammu and Kashmir was closest to the area which was declared Pakistan in 1947, but due to the Maharaja Hari Singh’s dishonest act Kashmiris could not reap the fruits of freedom. Selling of our farmlands is in fact selling of our homeland. It can create security risks for the country,” he explained.

“As Emirates Group is looking for an international partner and total land available for sale is six million acres, as such, our enemies can manage to become partners or individual buyers directly or indirectly. History has recorded the biggest blunder of Palestinians when they sold land to Jews and gradually rich Jews took over their homeland and Israel appeared on the world map. The authorities are requested to kindly read the history and see how Israel managed to capture the land of Palestinians and appeared as an independent country on the world map. Palestinians are the victims of their own mistakes and Israeli has become permanent pain in the neck, “he completed.

“The decision to sell six million acres of farmland can prove extremely dangerous in the long run,” said Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman Agri forum Pakistan.

“Pakistan allowed some foreigners in tribal areas to fight against Russia and these foreigners were allowed to reside in these areas without proper immigration documents and passports, as a result these foreign elements have become the greatest threat for the country and our government has failed to send them back to their native countries.

These so-called Mujahideen occupied some area of our tribal region (less than one million acres) and despite the Drone attacks, both USA and Pakistan have failed to get rid of these people who are not only a threat to Pakistan, but for the whole world. By selling six million acres of land we will introduce new type of feudalism and create relative deprivation in the area which can spoil the future of our coming generations, who are already victims of our short-sightedness. Pundit Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, introduced land reforms in India and feudalism was buried once and for all and total land divided among landless farmers. There are many other options available to us if we want to utilize this land and some of these are: instead of selling the farmland outright, the government can offer to lease it, secondly, the farmland should be offered to domestic investors first. What’s wrong with offering the same incentives and subsidies to local farmers? Thirdly, government may distribute this land among landless farmers and help them to cultivate the same. For the utilization of such land the government should prefer local investors and poor landless farmers and support them in cultivation of land to increase our GDP and per capita income. Finally, government can easily assess the population growth in the country in coming years. Our country would need more and more cultivated area to feed our own population, rather than feeding other nations!”

Dr Murtaza Mughal Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW).

Dr Murtaza Mughal Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW).

“Agriculture is the biggest sector of the economy,” said Dr Murtaza Mughal, Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW). “It is under serious threat as gradual sale and lease of large tracts of lands to foreigners is being carried out in a very quick and secretive manner. Millions of farmers will become jobless while thousands of acres of fertile land will become barren because the corporate farms would be given preference in provision of canal water, seed, pesticides, fertilizers and other inputs. The idea of corporate farming has evoked more fears than hopes. Many think that corporate farming will have negative impact on rural livelihood and will transform Pakistan into a more unequal country. Despite opposition, some important persons seem determined to allow foreigners to own an unlimited amount of land in any part of Pakistan,” he said further.

Industrial privatization was carried out to retire the debt. In the process we lost many profitable units and the country was pushed to brink of bankruptcy. Now fertile lands are being privatized in the name of technological advancement and attracting foreign investments. Foreigners have only one thing in mind while investing outside their country, to gain maximum in minimum of time and leave.”Wealthy countries have controlled global trade, now they are eyeing over one trillion dollar agricultural output of underdeveloped countries,” said Dr Murtaza Mughal. “Rich countries have already bought large farms in many countries like Congo, Sudan, Zambia, Myanmar, Laos, Uganda, Cambodia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania, Brazil and Central Asia. They are expanding and attracting unrest and riots. It seems that now it is our turn. Corporate farming will push some cultivators to commit suicide while others may prefer crimes. A good number may develop extremist tendencies that will have a heavy political price.”

“I am surprised at the media – why are they silent on this issue of national importance? The issue must be discussed in the parliament before making any deals with any foreign groups,” he further added.

If the authorities are bent upon corporatizing farmlands then it would be better to lease it so that Pakistan has the right in parliament before implementation.

There are many other options to utilize the land, instead of selling, the government should offer such land on five, ten, or 15-30 year lease, secondly, the farmlands should be offered to domestic investors on comparatively easier terms and thirdly the government may distribute this land among landless farmers and help them to cultivate the same.

Ahmed Humayun is Bureau Chief Value TV

This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, July 2009, issue 12

Graphix and layout by Muhammad Asif, Photos by GM Shah

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
The publisher and editor-in-chief for Tkfr.com and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), Fareeha is currently working at a media company as Content development Manager (or as they call it, the managing editor); she also served as the managing editor for Valuemag (Jan 08-July 09 – Print editions Valuemag 1-13). She has over 15 years of solid management experience in managing products, brands, projects, processes, staff, customers, vendors and time, plus, she has a MSc degree in Economics (and Business Administration) from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA and BA from Kinnaird. She also freelanced for The News on Sunday (1994-95). Tkfr.com chronicles some of her work – editing, writing, reporting and print and online media management. (1994-to date).

36 Comments

  1. They have finally started a debate on national tv -“is Pakistan for sale?!!!” The government’s justification for selling this land – “oh, its just barren land, very difficult to cultivate, not possible to farm it by poor subsistence farmers…only rich corporate type of farming can work on this land, besides, they are paying us! Money in the bank now, who cares about future generations and food shortages?” Go figure…

    We as a nation need to decide if we are all capitalists…all commodities are for sale and the only acceptable currency is the highest bid and payment now! If so, why do we crib when there are food shortages, water shortages, etc? There is only one market and that’s the global market and only rich can afford to play it. The poor, since they can’t pay for anything should just die! (Of starvation, poverty, or whatever…who cares? We want our money now!!!) Its besides the point that we do not regulate anything since its against WTO rules so its quite okay for our poor to be exploited as long as we have some rich folk who can afford the inflated prices for local produce and can pay it…why should we keep anything back for our poor? Let everything be smuggled out or exported, we are getting paid…you know what I mean? Naw, I am not being sarcastic! 🙂

    We should throw away our Islamic constitution which tells us that we are all accountable to God and greed at the expense of our humanity is not acceptable. God is going to burn us in hell…capitalists don’t believe in God, they only believe in money!

    Its very simple – the only choice is money or nothing! Take your pick….I guess, its nothing.

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  2. Jan 19th 2010 – Tuesday…

    Reduced Yield of Wheat Crop feared
    By Amin Ahmed
    Tuesday, 19 Jan, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: A persistent drought-like situation has endangered the yield of wheat crop in Barani as well as irrigated areas, according to federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock Nazar Mohammad Gondal.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/13+minister-urges-prayer-for-rain-reduced-yield-of-wheat-feared-910-za-04

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  3. Jan 19th 2010 – Tuesday…

    Sugar crisis may get worse, NA told
    By Khawar Ghumman
    Tuesday, 19 Jan, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: The sugar crisis may get worse in coming months with an estimated decline of over one million tons in production this year.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/13+sugar-crisis-may-get-worse-910-za-08

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  4. Rise in fertilizer rates to cause Rabi yield decline
    By: Khalid Malik | Published: January 22, 2010

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/22-Jan-2010/Rise-in-fertilizer-rates-to-cause-Rabi-yield-decline

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  5. Food scarcity
    Dawn Editorial
    Tuesday, 26 Jan, 2010

    Grim scenarios of an agricultural drought in the country should not affect the projected economic growth for the current fiscal year or trigger fresh inflationary pressures in the near term. But it does threaten to slash the wheat crop size and increase power shortages besides posing dangers to food security.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/19-food-scarcity-hh-02

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  6. Farming without pesticides
    By Devinder Sharma
    Sunday, 24 Jan, 2010 | 01:09 AM PST |

    S we enter 2010, the script for a futuristic agriculture, which brings back the smile on the face of farmers, without leaving any scar on the environment, is being rewritten.

    In India, what began as a small initiative some six years back in a non-descript village in Khamam district, has now spread to over two million acres in 21 districts of Andhra Pradesh. I remember when I first talked about the miracle brought about in village Pannukula, many thought I was simply trying to romanticise agriculture. How farming can be done without the use of chemical pesticides, I was repeatedly asked.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/encounter/farming-without-pesticides-410

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  7. The US is committed to boost Pakistan’s agriculture sector: Bryan D. Hunt

    By Kamran Shaikh
    SUKKUR: The US Consulate General in Lahore , Mr Bryan D. Hunt said on Thursday that his country would support Pakistan in the Development of Agriculture Technology in order to boost productivity, improve farmers’ income and prosperity of Pakistan. He said this while addressing the orientation course participants of newly inducted Mobile Credit Officers (MCOs) of the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) here on Thursday.
    The President of the bank Chaudhry Zaka Ashraf and Senior Executive Amina Imran also addressed on the occasion.

    http://www.regionaltimes.com/29jan2010/heartlandnews/the.htm

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  8. fareeha says:

    Minfal cuts wheat target by 2mn tons
    By Amin Ahmed
    Thursday, 04 Feb, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: The government has reduced the wheat production target to 23 million tons as it expects a shortfall of 2 million tons in view of the canal water shortage and the drought forecast in certain areas, including barani areas.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/business/13+minfal-cuts-wheat-target-by-2m-tons-420-za-09

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  9. 9 state units to be ready for sell-off by March 31
    By Amin Ahmed
    Wednesday, 17 Feb, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: The restructuring process in nine state-owned entities (SOEs) will be completed by March 31, following which advisers would be taken on board to take ahead transactions of these entities.

    The Privatisation Commission is in the process of restructuring Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC), Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (PPL), Sui Northern Gas Pipeline, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Postal Services, Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco), Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) and Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco).

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/business/13+9-state-units-to-be-ready-for-selloff-by-march-31-720-za-12

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  10. ‘PIA not to be privatised, restructuring to be completed in 2 months’

    Staff Report

    KARACHI: Defence Minister, Choudhary Ahmed Mukhtar categorically said there would be no privatisation of national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday.

    “It is the entity of the federal government and will not be privatised”, he said at a press conference after chairing the PIA Board meeting.

    He said talks were being held with the federal government to pick up PIA’s accumulated losses so as to provide relief to the national carrier.

    He said as soon as funds would be arranged, new aircrafts would be inducted into the PIA fleet and also said the managing director PIA was not going to be changed.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\03\17\story_17-3-2010_pg5_2

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  11. New water conservation project on the cards
    By Amin Ahmed
    Wednesday, 17 Mar, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: In the face of growing water scarcity in the country, the federal government has decided to launch next month a water conservation and productivity enhancement project.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/new-water-conservation-project-on-the-cards-730

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  12. Tackling food inflation
    Saturday, March 20, 2010
    Shahid Kardar

    Despite higher production of cereals, food prices have risen at a much faster pace than those of non-food items since 2005. Food inflation has risen sharply to 15.5 per cent after the recent double digit increase in electricity and gas tariffs and oil prices and the reduced sugarcane crop. And this increase is not restricted to just one or two food items; it encompasses a fairly broader range of commodities.

    The government is struggling to control the hike in food prices and would not be worried if this was to be a one-time jump in the price-level with an eventual tapering off over a period, resulting in the decline in the pace of increase in prices.

    Unfortunately, the future does not bode well: a) the electricity tariffs are programmed to rise again in April followed by another increase in July; b) the international prices of oil and commodities are firming up with improvement in world growth; and more importantly c) fear of persistent inflation has been built into the expectations of key economic actors selling goods and services, reinforcing the inflationary process.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=230092

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  13. Sindh wheat crop to cross 3.7m tons mark
    By Muzaffar Qureshi
    Wednesday, 24 Mar, 2010

    KARACHI: Wheat production in Sindh is likely to exceed 3.7 million tons target and finally end up somewhere near four million tons.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/business/13+sindh-wheat-crop-to-cross-3.7m-tons-mark-430-za-02

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  14. Pakistan, Turkey vow to collaborate in agri sector

    Staff Report

    ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Food & Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal on Wednesday said Pakistan was blessed with a lot of natural potentials in the field of agriculture and needed Turkey’s assistance to further achieve self-sufficiency in food security.

    “There are tremendous possibilities of increased collaboration between the investors of the two brotherly countries, and development of Pakistan’s agribusiness and value addition sector with Turkish technical and financial resources. Pakistan offered tremendous opportunities to Turkish businessmen to invest in Pakistan’s agriculture production, processing and value addition”, said the minister.

    The areas identified for Turkish’s assistance include establishment of Olive Oil units, investment by Turkish Seed Companies, establishment of Modern Cool Chain Infrastructure, grain storage, and food processing industry.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\04\01\story_1-4-2010_pg5_18

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  15. Govt being pressured to allow wheat export
    Tuesday, April 06, 2010
    By By Aftab Maken
    ISLAMABAD: A powerful wheat exporters’ lobby is reportedly trying to trap the government into a situation that would benefit speculators, fleece farmers and leave consumers at the mercy of millers.

    The present government’s predecessor had committed the same mistake in 2007. “If the government allows export of wheat, it will create problems for both the consumers and farmers on the plea of unavailability of goodowns for stocking the commodity in the public sector level,” an official of the Food Ministry told this reporter.

    The federal cabinet will consider on Tuesday the disposal of carryover stock of 3.5 million tons of wheat lying both with PASSCO and provincial food departments and also the procurement plan for the new crop. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani will preside over the cabinet meeting, shows the agenda of the meeting available with The News on Monday.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=232704

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  16. Govt giving high priority to agriculture sector, says minister

    Staff Report

    LAHORE: A major proportion of available resources will be utilised for the development of the agriculture sector on modern lines in the province, as the government is giving the sector high priority, Punjab Agriculture minister Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh said, on Wednesday.

    Addressing the Kissan Convention at the Agriculture House, he said recommendations would be finalised keeping in view proposals of the farmers and stakeholders for the improvement of agriculture and productivity to meet food requirements of the proliferating population.

    He acknowledged the dedication and hard work of the farming community to support government policies for enhancing per acre yield of major and minor crops.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\04\08\story_8-4-2010_pg7_37

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  17. US seeks land for DynCorp
    By: Afzal Bajwa | Published: April 08, 2010

    ISLAMABAD – Officially seeking land for aircraft maintenance base for its private contractors DynCorp, the US on Wednesday has practically belied Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s repeatedly denying presence of any American private security agency in Pakistan.
    “We have requested the Government of Pakistan to provide land for carrying out maintenance and repair of the Ministry of Interior’s 50th Squadron Air Wing in Quetta,” said a senior visiting US functionary who met Interior Minister in this regard. The US sponsored Air Wing contains 14 HUEY-II helicopters and three Cessna Caravan aircrafts. The maintenance contract of the Air Wing’s fleet is with the DynCorp that requires land for a repair base.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/08-Apr-2010/US-seeks-land-for-DynCorp

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  18. Country to harvest 23.8m metric tons of wheat
    By Our Staff Reporter
    Tuesday, 13 Apr, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is estimated to harvest 23.87 million metric tons of wheat this year, against a target of 25 million tons, and a little less than last year’s 24.03 million tons.

    Addressing a news conference after a meeting of the federal committee on agriculture (FCA), Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Mohammad Gondal said the government had decided to export 2 million tons of the surplus commodity because of 3.5 million tons of carryover stocks.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/19-country-to-harvest-23.8m-metric-tons-of-wheat-340-hh-04

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  19. Hydro-Politics in the Arab World
    Gitanjali Bakshi
    July 13, 2010

    Concerns about water—a less celebrated resource in the Middle East—have always been latent, lying beneath the surface and quietly shaping geo-political events in the region. In the future, “blue gold” will become so increasingly precious that, much like the black gold of today, water will no longer play a latent role, but will instead be an integral part of the region’s political agenda.
    For years water has been one of the driving forces of inter-state conflict in the Middle East.

    http://www.worldpress.org/Mideast/3591.cfm

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  20. Attracting domestic, foreign direct investment

    Saturday, July 17, 2010
    By By Javed Mirza
    KARACHI: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has recommended eliminating all foreign ownership restrictions in the aviation sector to attract domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI) into Pakistan.

    In a study on ‘View through Efficiency and the Competition Prism on Aviation Industry in Pakistan,’ CCP said emphasis should be placed on the need to allow growth of existing carriers in Pakistan and the entry of new ones.

    “Capacity is lacking in the Pakistani aviation sector and with the Gulf expanding seat capacity exponentially and international carriers withdrawing from Pakistan, action is required. Otherwise, Pakistan will end up representing a country-spoke of the Gulf networks,” the Commission’s study said.

    CCP observed that fleet renewal was of utmost importance for PIA’s economic performance, which is 89 per cent government-owned. PIA’s current inhomogeneous fleet of 40 aircraft has an average age of 13 years compared with 5-6 years for Emirates and Singapore Airlines. And over half of the PIA fleet is older than 23 years.
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=251108

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  21. Tezrao, Shalimar to chug no more
    By Zaheer Mahmood Siddiqui
    Sunday, 18 Jul, 2010

    LAHORE: Pakistan Railways announced on Saturday that it would suspend six inter-city passenger trains because its financial losses now stood at Rs23 billion per year.

    The Mehran Express, Sialkot Express and a passenger train were discontinued on Saturday. Tezrao and Chiltan expresses will stop operating on July 20 and the Shalimar Express on July 27.
    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/03-six-more-train-services-to-be-suspended-ss-05

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  22. Promotion of agri sector top priority: Shahbaz

    LAHORE : Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the Punjab government was attaching top priority to the promotion of agriculture along with education, health and industrial sectors and a solid strategy has been adopted for socio-economic uplift of farmers.

    He was talking to assembly members of various districts at Assembly Chambers here on Thursday who apprised him development activities, welfare programmes and problems of the people of their respective areas.
    http://www.pakwatan.com/business_detail.php?id=7804

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  23. Focus
    Pakistan’s drinkers of the dust

    As desert creeps back to the lands of the Indus Basin, villagers suffer and animosities turn to threats in one of the world’s riskiest environmental crises

    Graeme Smith
    Hyderabad, Pakistan — From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
    Published on Friday, Jul. 23, 2010 6:52PM EDT
    Last updated on Friday, Jul. 23, 2010 9:56PM EDT
    The Indus looks nothing like the mighty river from history books. Alexander the Great once sailed galleys along these waters; centuries later, the British used steamboats. Now, the decaying remnants of boats are stranded high on the sandy banks, dozens of metres above the brown trickle that was once a legendary river. Only small fishing skiffs remain on the water, and most sit empty.

    As a sandstorm sweeps down from the dunes, obscuring the river with its haze, a fisherman named Ghulam Ali turns away and says what everybody fears in Pakistan: “The desert is coming back.”

    Water scarcity in the Indus basin may be the world’s most dangerous environmental phenomenon. If anything will cause a civil war in Pakistan, or a conflict with its nemesis, India, many analysts believe that it will be water.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/pakistans-drinkers-of-the-dust/article1650301/

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  24. Need to protect indigenous cotton varieties
    ANUM MUSHTAQ
    ARTICLE (August 07 2010): Finally, the government allowed Monsanto, American entrepreneur, take measures to supply the seeds of its Bt cotton in the years to come so that it could replace indigenous cotton varieties for enhanced yield. Pakistan is the fourth largest cotton producing country in the world without Monsanto’s Bt cotton. What would be its ranking in the global market after the arrival of Monsanto’s cotton is yet to be ascertained.

    At present, the cotton growers of Pakistan are using genetically modified seeds, though unregistered. In Sindh, 90 percent of the total cotton grown relates to Bt varieties, which is, however, 50 percent of Punjab. The government envisaged agenda is to increase the cotton production by increase in yield.

    For this purpose, the government is keen to buy genetically modified seeds from the foreign companies like Monsanto, without evaluating the pros and cons of cultivation of favoured Bt cotton from the US company on the hybrid indigenous varieties already under cultivation in Pakistan. In fact, the acquisition of technology or registration of indigenously developed seeds is much cheaper option because Monsanto’s Bt cotton seed yields one crop only. Therefore, the cotton growers would have to buy Bt cotton seeds from the foreign companies, every year. It would generate cyclical loss to the poor cotton growers, causing elimination of indigenously developed Bt cotton seeds.

    http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=1088591&currPageNo=1&query=&search=&term=&supDate=

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  25. Fruits, vegetables import
    Saturday, August 07, 2010
    By By Shahid Shah
    KARACHI: Expecting 50 percent shortage of fruits and vegetables in the country due to floods, traders have asked the government to relax import tariffs to control prices during Ramazan.

    “Persistent rain and flood have damaged about 90 percent of vegetable crop in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa,” Abdul Wahid, Chairman All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable (Exporters, Importers and Merchants) Association (PFVA) told The News on Friday.

    “Onion crop in Balochistan has been affected, while the situation in Punjab and Sindh is also vulnerable,” Wahid added.

    He said the price increase and supply shortages have made the situation alarming, which could worsen during Ramazan. Price of tomatoes in the wholesale market nearly doubled on Thursday to Rs100 per kilogramme.

    Vegetable traders demanded duty waiver on imports, which varies between 5 to 45 percent, depending on the commodity and the country of origin.

    Presently, there is no incentive on imports from India and Iran, close neighbours of Pakistan with surplus vegetables. Duty on Irani vegetables is around 45 percent, making it all but impossible for importers as rates often escalate further, by the time it reaches the consumer.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=255183

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  26. Tanveer Arif says:

    Now in developing countries, poor governance is the biggest challenge. There is a direct relation between poor governance and land grabbing. The more corrupt is the government, the biggest would be the land grabbing. Therefore CSOs have to face great challenge in getting access to reliable data, communicate it to stakeholders, analyze it and take a position. Unfortunately the poor governed countries have weak judiciary and media, therefore the responsibility increases on CSOs to cope up with the land grabbing storm. There is a need to form national, regional and global alliances of CSOs. CSOs need to establish “national land observatories (NLOs)”, which may network at global level. Access to reliable data is challenge, because most of the deals are being made in shadow, away from public eyes. CSOs will have to act like intelligence agencies to unearth such undercover deals and document them. As far as establishment of international monitoring body is concerned, we support this idea. We have a global organization in the form of International Land Coalition (ILC), which is a mixture of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and CSOs and have presence in all regions of the world. ILC is already undertaking global studies with the help of national members on global land acquisition process.

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  27. an interesting article on agriculture…

    Keeping Agriculture Alive Near New York City (Yes, Really)
    By PETER APPLEBOME
    Published: October 17, 2010
    Suffern, N.Y.

    Tom Sleight remembers the advice his father gave him in case he wanted to take over the family’s farm in Dutchess County: Don’t do it.

    It was the 1970s. Family farms were being sold to developers left and right. His family, he said, had been farming in the Hudson Valley since 1640, but his father had concluded that the certainty of cashing in their real estate was worth more than the uncertainty of farming it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/18/nyregion/18towns.html?_r=1&nl=nyregion&emc=ura3

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  28. PM House pressuring to sell land to Arabs: Bhootani
    By: Bari Baloch | Published: November 13, 2010

    QUETTA – Speaker Balochistan Assembly, Muhammad Aslam Bhootani has revealed that Prime Minister House is exerting pressure on Balochistan government to sell land to Arab Sheikhs in his constituency in district Lasbela near coastal highway.
    He warned that people of Balochistan would resist if the proposed land was sold to Arab Sheikhs. Addressing a Press conference here at Quetta Press Club, he said that Chief Minister Balochistan had always raised voice for the rights and resources of Balochistan after formation of his government with the support of all coalition partners.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/13-Nov-2010/PM-House-pressuring-to-sell-land-to-Arabs-Bhootani

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  29. Lasbela land sale to foreigners criticised
    From the Newspaper
    (5 hours ago) Today
    By Saleem Shahid

    QUETTA: Balochistan Assembly Speaker Aslam Bhootani has accused the Prime Minister House of putting pressure on the provincial government to sell thousands of hectares of land in the coastal district of Lasbela to some Arab princes.

    Addressing a press conference here on Friday, he said Balochistan was not a saleable commodity and its people would not allow anyone to sell their land.

    http://www.dawn.com/2010/11/13/lasbela-land-sale-to-foreigners-criticised.html

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  30. Federal govt selling land in Balochistan to Arabs’

    * Balochistan Assembly speaker says land located close to Coastal Highway in Lyari Tehsil

    By Muhammad Zafar

    QUETTA: Balochistan Assembly Speaker Aslam Bhootani has claimed that the federal government is using its influence to get thousands of acres of land allotted and sold to Arab Sheikhs from UAE for hunting.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\11\13\story_13-11-2010_pg7_22

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  31. Gwadar Port Authority: PSA barred from transferring any property

    QAMAR UZ ZAMAN

    ISLAMABAD (December 09, 2010) : The Supreme Court on Wednesday barred the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) Gwadar Ltd from transferring immovable property of Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) to any private party till the final decision of the court, and allowed the government of Balochistan to be a party to the case, as it had serious reservations over the deal.

    The court issued the stay order on a separate application moved by Barrister Zafarullah of the Watan Party who had voiced apprehensions that the government might sell the 600 km long coastal belt to the PSA.

    http://www.brecorder.com/news/top-stories/1132081:gwadar-port-authority-psa-barred-from-transferring-any-property.html

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  32. Government seeks expertise for SOEs

    LONDON (December 14, 2010) : Pakistan is nearly ready to launch a privatisation programme which aims to bring in foreign management expertise and tap international markets to turn around its flagging state-owned industries, its privatisation minister said in an interview. “You will see in the next 12 months about 5 or 6 deals coming on the block,” Waqar Ahmed Khan told Reuters on Sunday, adding that he expected the first deal in January.

    http://www.brecorder.com/news/top-stories/1133940:government-seeks-expertise-for-soes.html

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  33. The Economist Speculates on the Future of Vertical Farming
    By Lesley-Lammers | December 27th, 2010 2 Comments

    A recent Economist article asks the question of vertical farming, “Does it really stack up?” In theory, it’s a win-win-win concept for the environment, feeding growing urban populations locally, and increasing space for agriculture without more land use. But the reality is that vertical farming is costly energy-wise due to the need for artificial lighting and insufficient space for renewable energy installations on skyscrapers. While many designs exist, no large scale vertical farm has been built yet. However, Will Allen’s Growing Power did receive approval this year from the Milwaukee city planning commission to build a five story greenhouse, perhaps marking a step toward the fruition of the first vertical farm.

    http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/12/future-vertical-farms-asks-economist/

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  34. US, India may jointly tap Africa agriculture
    “As part of the India-US dialogue on agriculture, there has been some focus on Africa,” said a government official

    Utpal Bhaskar & Elizabeth Roche

    Nairobi/New Delhi: India and the US may team up to tap farm opportunities in Africa that may also translate into the US funding Indian farm projects in the continent.

    The proposal is a spin-off from the India-US Agriculture Dialogue and an announcement is likely during the US President Barack Obama’s visit starting 6 November.

    “As part of the India-US dialogue on agriculture, there has been some focus on Africa,” said a senior Indian government official who didn’t want to be identified. “We will talk to them. It will be our projects and their funding, and will result in reduced cost of delivery. The African countries will be our equal partners.”

    http://www.livemint.com/2010/10/31213054/US-India-may-jointly-tap-Afri.html

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  35. Saudi Arabia keen to invest in energy, agriculture sectors: Hafeez Shaikh

    Monday, 18 April 2011 11:55

    WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia is interested in investing in Pakistan’s energy and agriculture sectors, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said after meeting his counterpart from the oil rich country.

    http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/industries-a-sectors/11595-saudi-arabia-keen-to-invest-in-energy-agriculture-sectors-hafeez-shaikh.html

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  36. Towards greater food security
    By Syed Mohammad Ali
    Published: October 13, 2011

    The Mahbub-ul-Haq Centre has launched its latest annual report on the state of human development in South Asia. This year’s report takes a closer look at how the problem of food security, impacts broader human development concerns. At a conference organised this past weekend at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, a panel of experts discussed the various contours of this problem from the human security, climate change, economic and governance angles.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/273273/towards-greater-food-security/

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