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Fruit and vegetable processing centre to be set up in Sialkot

SIALKOT (December 27 2008): Local business community after successfully accomplishing mega projects of Sialkot International Airport completely from self-generated funds is now considering starting new projects like setting up of a 50 megawatt coal power plant and a food and vegetable processing and packaging centre close to the new airport.

The proposed power plant would be set up in public-private partnership and Punjab government would invest 10 percent of its share while the exporters` community would provide remaining funds. The business community was taking steps to cope with the shortage of electricity aimed in order to ensure uninterrupted production activities.

Setting up of a common facility centre for fruit and vegetable processing unit close to the airport would open new avenue for the exporters and could be the source of quantum leap in export from Sialkot. According to Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) sources, objectives of the proposed facility are to preserve packaged and stored fruit and vegetable surpluses for export during seasonal gluts in the region.

Further, it will increase fruit and vegetable export opportunities boosting growers` profitability, besides earning foreign exchange for the country. Introduction of agro-food based common facility centre will minimise the post harvest losses that are estimated 35 percent in fresh fruits and vegetable.

It will also develop national manufacturing capacity and support fruit and vegetables growers in processing and adding value to their produce ensuring provision of constancy services regarding value-addition and processing of fruits and vegetables to the local growers. The proposed facility will create employment opportunities for local skilled and unskilled workers including womenfolk of the area.

Facilities like fruits and vegetables grading and packaging facilities of turnip, cauliflower, tomato, potato, peas, okra, bitter gourd, Kino and guava will be available a the centre.

These facilities would ensure access to the international markets while the centre will also cater the needs of farmers, ensure hygienic, food safety while the farmers` community would be able to earn satisfactory return. The growers, exporters and fruits and vegetables traders of Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat and Gujranwala would be the main beneficiaries of this proposed centre.

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