Pakistan and China on Tuesday embarked on a new venture as they established the first agricultural and industrial cooperation information platform in an attempt to promote in-depth business-to-business cooperation between the two countries.
“As we enter the critical juncture of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the agriculture sector and industries will be our main focus,” said Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of China-Pakistan Agricultural and Industrial Cooperation Information Platform, the ambassador said 2021 would mark the completion of 70 years of brotherly relations between Pakistan and China, and with the launch of the platform, “we will organise forums to display information to further strengthen business-to-business cooperation between the two countries”.
Endorsing Nong’s views, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moinul Haque said, “This platform marks one of the many activities planned for 2021.”
He added that the newly established venture would synergise efforts of agriculture sector and industries and said China’s progress in the agriculture sector was worth emulating for developing countries like Pakistan.
Highlighting the importance of agriculture in Pakistan, he pointed out that the sector contributed around 18% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employed 38% of the workforce.
“Agricultural development is the roadmap for a smooth and steady growth of industries and national development,” he stressed. “We can turn a new page in agricultural and industrial cooperation for the shared benefit of both countries.”
The first-of-its-kind platform has been established by the China Economic Net and China Machinery Engineering Corporation, which will primarily collect, summarise, sort and release information on industrial cooperation from the government and other relevant departments.
The platform will provide an opportunity to display agriculture and industry-related products, technologies and achievements, and organise business forums, seminars and project matchmaking meetings.
Experts were of the view that the platform would also provide a more predictable and broader market for Pakistani exports along with enhancing industrial cooperation.
Speaking on the occasion, CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Saleem Bajwa said, “This platform will help optimise the true potential of agricultural cooperation.”
Bajwa stressed that agriculture was essential for food security and had export potential. “Prime minister’s agricultural reforms and Chinese experience will come in handy in development of the sector,” he said.
Shedding light on the progress on CPEC, he said, “CPEC is effectively moving forward.” However, he added that the success of phase-I hinged on the success of phase-II. He identified corporate farming, seed germination and water sector as potential areas of cooperation.
Agreeing with fellow speakers, he stressed the need for enhancing private sector and business-to-business cooperation between the two countries.
Experts from both countries underlined the need for improving corporate farming to explore more opportunities.
Former University of Agriculture Faisalabad vice-chancellor Iqrar Ahmed Khan said Pakistan with the assistance of China should grow non-traditional products, including strawberry, other than normal rice, wheat, mango, kinnow, etc.
He added that despite several attempts to invest in the drip irrigation system, Pakistan still lagged behind. “Now is the time to analyse why has the system become a success throughout the world and not in Pakistan,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2021.
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