Joining hands: Netherlands sees prospects of cooperation in agriculture

Envoy says Dutch companies being encouraged to invest in Pakistan

Imran Rana April 29, 2016

FAISALABAD: Netherlands Ambassador to Pakistan Jeanette Seppen has said that they are keen to enhance trade and investment relations with Pakistan, especially in areas of agriculture and agro-based businesses.

Talking to University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan on Thursday, Seppen said there were prospects for strengthened cooperation in livestock, agriculture and agro-based business, adding efforts were under way to encourage Dutch companies to invest in Pakistan.

She pointed out that the Netherlands had a population of about 20 million whereas it was producing food for 70 million people. “We are getting more yield from less agriculture land with the application of modern technologies.”

She said the Netherlands was helping Pakistan achieve food security that would alleviate poverty. Though the Netherlands is the fifth largest trading country in the world, its bilateral trade with Pakistan is just around $900 million.

The ambassador suggested that agricultural ties between the two countries would help them benefit from each other’s experiences and cited the launch of a salt-tolerant potato growing programme in Pakistan with assistance of the Netherlands.

This can enable potato plantation in saline areas, which provides a great opportunity for Pakistan.

She cited water, agriculture and energy as the major areas for cooperation between the two countries. “Pakistan is one of the most populous countries, it has talented people and if we polish their skills, the country can develop rapidly.”

Seppen also stressed that women should come forward and actively take part in economic activities in Pakistan.

She also pointed out that many Pakistani students were studying in the Netherlands as her country had one of the top universities of the globe. She was of the view that universities should provide policy recommendations to the government.

UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan underlined the need for undertaking food fortification measures to address malnutrition in the country.

He said the country had surplus food but bad eating habits and affordability and distribution issues were creating problems of food insecurity and malnutrition. “If we opt for value addition to our food produce, the country can develop at a rapid pace.”

Saying that 40% of grains were being lost in the post-harvest process, Khan called for collaboration between the Netherlands and Pakistan that would pave the way for an increase in agriculture productivity and tackling malnutrition.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th,  2016.

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