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Trade Policy initiative for development of Balochistan`s horticulture sector

The Government of Pakistan under Trade Policy initiatives and special package for the development of Balochistan is implementing a number of projects in Balochistan in order to improve marketing and value added processing of fresh fruits and vegetables. The significant projects include one apple grading plant at Quetta, two collection points, one each at Khuzdar and Loralai, and one date processing plant at Turbat.

According to a press release issued here by Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Board (PHDEB), the apple grading plant is functional and ready to offer services to the intended users.  The collection points which are wholesale markets with cold storage facilities meant for facilitating sourcing of quality and graded produce from the production areas for domestic and export markets. Tender documents are almost already for inviting bids from contractors. The projects are planned to be completed by late 2008. The position of date processing plant is similar. However, its completion is expected during the current financial year. Funds have lardy been released by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) from Export Development Fund (EDF). Each project will be managed by a Board of Directors comprising members from the stakeholders including Provincial Agriculture Department, PHDEB, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Growers and Exporters.   In addition, two collection points and one tomato processing plants are at advanced stage of project development.
 The completion of these projects will largely contribute towards value addition and efficient marketing of fruits and vegetables produced in Balochistan including enhancement of their exports. This in turn will have a positive and significant impact on economic conditions of the growers and all others associated with fresh produce handling and marketing. This was expressed by the participants of a joint projects review meeting held the other day under the chairmanship of Mr. Muhammad Javaid Iqbal Awan, Secretary Agriculture Department Balochistan. The meeting among others was attended by Mr. Muhammad Iqbal, Chief Operating Officer, PHDEB; Mr. Muhammad Riaz Khan, Director General Agriculture Research Balochistan; Mr. Qamar Anjum, Director, TDAP; Mr. Akhtar Ali Bangulzai, Director Agriculture Marketing Balochistan and Mr. Alamgir Khan, Progressive grower from Bostan.
The participants further noted that under the recently announced Trade Policy 2007/08, establishment of cold chain infrastructure has been included in addition to a number of other initiatives. The 39 pack-houses and 20 cold storages to be set up in main production and consumption centers, sea and air ports included a due share for Balochistan. These combined with on-going initiatives would certainly open up new vistas for improving marketing of fruits and vegetables produced in Baluchistan both within the country and exports. This in turn will have significant healthy impact on the socio-economic conditions of the people of Balochistan.
It may be recalled that Balochistan is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the country. However, it is the largest producer of dates, onion and deciduous fruits that include apple, apricot, grapes and pomegranates. In spite of dwindling underground water reserves, the province continues to offer good prospects for high value cash crops owing primarily to its favorable climate and fertile soils. However, its poor physical infrastructure including cold storages, wholesale markets and processing facilities tend to keep the potentials under exploited. The development of aforesaid projects will largely help in overcoming these constraints.   
Agha M. Ajmal
Media Consultant
Mobile # 0301-449957

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