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SBP presents suggestions about horticulture-business financing

ISLAMABAD (December 08 2007): Task Force on Horticulture, Finance and Competitiveness met here on Friday with Caretaker Finance Minister Dr Salman Shah in the chair. The participants agreed that issues of quality improvement and infrastructure development were key to increase earnings from the horticulture sector.

Dr Salman Shah welcomed several project concepts and said the future of the industry would depend on partnerships between public and private enterprises. The minister added that CSF was working in the backward areas of Pakistan including the Northern Areas and Fata for enhancing livelihoods and poverty reduction besides improving women`s role in economic development.

He said that CSF supported Pakistan`s goal of a more competitive economy by providing input into policy decisions, working to improve regulatory and administrative frameworks, and enhancing public-private partnerships.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) officials also presented their recommendations to improve horti-business financing in Pakistan. The sub-committees during their presentations stressed the need for regulation and enforcement of quality standards. The task force agreed that the approach would be supported by the development of supply chain infrastructure.

As a key component to improve the quality and standards in the horticulture sector, the recommendation to strengthen the National Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (Naphis) agency within a legal framework was appreciated by the participants.

The task force also recognised the need for cold storages in the production areas and more sophisticated and larger cold storage facilities at major airports.

Six pilot project designs with innovative aspects to improve the value chain in horticulture were also presented to the task force. These included mango pack houses in Multan costing $0.26 million, potato processing for French fries and potato flour in Okara costing $0.40 million, plant extracts for medicinal and perfume purposes at Pattoki with $0.26 million, an agro-based herbal products unit at Gilgit with a total project cost of $0.25 million, value addition projects of production of mint oil/crystal worth $0.16 million in Mir Pur Khas and Multan and a $0.2 million project in Swat on certified vegetables seed production.

Briefing the meeting, CSF Arthur Bayhan, said that the fund was making all out efforts to make Pakistan competitive in global market and to increase its exports and earn more foreign exchange. He added CSF was closely working with the concerned government departments and private sector to bring every body on board for improving Pakistan`s efficiency in all key sectors of the economy.

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