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Horticulture to be a recognised industry soon

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided in principle to declare the horticulture sector as a recognised industry in Pakistan. In this regard the Board of Investment (BoI) will move a summary to the relevant authority for approval soon.

The first meeting of the Implementation Committee (IC) of the Task Force on Finance and Competitiveness of the horticulture sector in Pakistan was held Thursday under the chairmanship of Zia-ur-Rehman, Secretary Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL). The meeting was attended by the representatives of the various relevant ministries, concerned provincial departments and the agri-business marketing institutions.

Speaking on the occasion, Arthur Bayhan, CEO of the Competitiveness Support Fund briefed the members of the implementation committee about the new methods used in several emerging market economies to promote financing and competitiveness of the sectors that have potential to grow. Mr Bayhan explained the structure and the functionality of the Task Force, as well as, of the sub-committees that were set-up by the meeting of the Task Force chaired by Dr Salman Shah, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs on July 12.

The IC of the Task Force is chaired by the secretary of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and consists of the active operational agencies mainly involved with the horticulture industry, which is Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, MinFAL/ADB Agribusiness Development and Diversification Project, Agricultural Support Fund, SMEDA, PISDAC (Horticulture SWOG) and Provincial Secretaries of Agriculture.

The IC has also established operational sub-committees that would generate specific action items and work to coordinate the work already being undertaken by the government line agencies, projects and private sector. These sub-committees are to analyse the current situation in the horticulture industry and report back to the Task Force. Where necessary the sub-committees will identify areas that require further intervention and liaise with the relevant line ministries, agencies and institutions to bring these about.

The four sub-committees provisionally constituted are on Horticulture-business Finance chaired by Javed Malik, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, a sub-committee on Infrastructure chaired by Mushtaq Malik, Secretary of the Board of Investment, a sub-committee for Quality, Standards and Regulation chaired by Dr Kauser Abdullah Malik, Member of the Planning Commission and a sub-committee for Production, Processing and Marketing chaired by Salim Jharga, Additional Secretary of MINFAL.

The Ministry of Finance established the Task Force for Horticulture Finance and Competitiveness (TFHFC) earlier this month to bring the stakeholders together on one platform. The Task Force at its initial brainstorming meeting on July 12, 2007 decided that an IC would be formed and chaired by the secretary MINFAL. It also decided that the BoI to move a summary to declare the horticulture sector as a recognised industry in Pakistan.

Due to the importance of finance and the role of the commercial banks, the Task Force was placed under the ministry of finance to enhance the finance and competitiveness of the horticulture sector.

The aim of the IC is to help the Task Force for Horticulture Finance and Competitiveness, achieve its goal by working, to ensure that the coordination, management, organisation and financing of development work (including that of public private partnerships and quasi-government enterprises, government ministries and agencies and donor projects) in the horticulture industry is undertaken in the most efficient manner consistent with allocating resources effectively and achieving the targets set by government of Pakistan policy. In particular the IC will focus on areas in which Pakistan lacks competitiveness and seek to ensure that these are managed for success.

The senior advisor to the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) made a presentation to the members of the implementation committee on the working of the sub-committees and informed the members that the objective of the IC is to provide the Task Force for Horticulture Finance and Competitiveness with recommendations for a clear management and financial structure for the industry in the context of coherent, well-planned and well-coordinated studies, research activities, regulations, policies, strategies and interventions. He also informed the members that Pakistan should target $1 billion from the horticulture exports by 2012 from the current exports of $150 million.

Zia-ur-Rehman, Secretary Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock in his concluding remarks told the members of the IC that the primary objective of this initiative is to identify the potential investment areas, where Pakistan can attract large foreign companies for joint ventures in the horticulture sector and also to identify innovative projects which CSF can assist through its matching grant window. The CSF was earlier tasked by the ministry of finance to undertake a comprehensive study entitled ‘The Competitive Advantage of the Food Processing Industry: Focus on Quality, Safety and Standards’.

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