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Bank financing prerequisite for $1 billion horticulture export

LAHORE (October 28 2007): The Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) providing technical support to the task force on Horticulture Finance aims at enhancing horticulture exports from present level of US $170 million to US $1 billion by 2010.

The third meeting of the sub-committee for horti-business finance was held in Lahore with the additional secretary, ministry of finance, Javed Malik in chair to develop a guideline for project financing in the horticulture sector.

A September meeting this year, the task force decided quick measures to improve financial situation of the sector including banking guidelines so that commercial banks could finance products on a lower interest rate to help the sector meeting demand of international also to provide with a partial credit guarantee scheme.

Stakeholders, including representatives of horticulture exports, senior officers of the commercial banks and the State Bank of Pakistan, attended the meeting. The task force decided to set up four sub-committees under the Implementation Committee chaired by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Livestock secretary to report the task force on Horticulture Finance and Competitiveness. Malik said.

`There is a need to develop effective policy tools to link finance to innovation and competitiveness and identify innovative projects in the horticulture sector.` `The sub committee on horti-business finance will provide the catalyst for ongoing and planned interventions and assist to develop guidelines for the aspect of the industry,` he said.

The world horticulture market is valued at US $80 billion to which Pakistan contributes an annual $170 million. Pakistan currently processes only about 16 percent of fruits although, however there are vast opportunities to augment the volume of value-added products by using modern technology.

Pakistan`s horticulture export industry share in the world market has risen steadily from about 5 percent in 1991 to 12 percent in 2004. The potential markets for Pakistan`s exports have been identified in Europe and the Middle East.

The Ministry of Finance assigned the CSF to undertake a comprehensive study titled `The Competitive Advantage of the Food Processing Industry- Focus on Quality, Safety, and Standards`. The fund undertook more specific work on horticulture.

Support for the CSF is part a of the $1.5 billion aid that the United States government is providing to Pakistan over a five years plan to improve the economic growth, education, health and governance.

Sources added the task force has been established under the auspices of the ministry of finance while the fund is a joint initiative of the ministry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to reposition Pakistan`s economy on a competitive global stand.

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