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Horticulture sector: task force set up for improving competitiveness

ISLAMABAD (July 13 2007): The government has constituted a 12-member task force for improving competitiveness of horticulture sector to boost up its export through a focussed approach and better financing. The task force members were senior officials of each of ministry of Finance, Minfal, Board of Investment, ministry of Commerce, Industries and Production, Health, Science and Technology.

In order to make the task force an effective forum to achieve the objectives, private sector, commercial banks and exporters have also been given representation.

The task force is meeting for the first time here on Thursday with advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Salman Shah in the chair. The ministry of finance prepared an action plan to improve the competitiveness of horticulture export and to create financing opportunities for this sector.

Sources in the ministry of finance said the action plan was developed by the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) recently on basis of its study of the food industry.

The principal findings of the study identified harvest losses upto 25 to 40 percent, industry`s 5 percent share in exports of total harvest, relatively low export price, great difficulties in maintaining quality at the destinations, high air transport cost as compared to low profit margins, inadequate international market information, lack of research and training opportunities and lack of implementation on the available information.

The task force meeting agenda included discussion on a strategic framework for the industry to achieve horticulture export target of 1,000 million by 2012, entering into the new markets with new products, adopting certification standards, ensure international compliance, develop world class infrastructure - cold storages, reefers and CFCs, agro processing zones.

The task force will take into account institutional aspects of the horticulture sector and work out a strategy to make co-ordinated efforts for achieving ultimate goal with stipulated period.

CSF study pointed out involvement of a number of ministries/divisions and other institutions. The study urged for co-ordinated efforts for taking full advantage of horticulture sector to increase its exports.

It said a number of agencies and development projects were involved in horticulture industry. These are Minfal, PCSIR, National Accreditation Council, PHEDB, ABD&DP, ASF, PISDAC/SWOG, Agricultural University of Faisalabad, Pamco and NARC.

CSF indicated that the most of the elements are in place that would enable Pakistan horticulture industry to become a world-class industry with focused and targeted efforts. CSF proposed constitution of a Task Force for Horticulture Finance and Competitiveness (TFHF&C).

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