LAHORE: Recognising the huge potential of Halal food industry, Ministry of National Food Security and Research Secretary Muhammad Abid Javed has said special attention is being paid to bringing an improvement in this sector since it has the capacity to significantly boost national exports.
Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Thursday, Javed said the Rice Research Institute was continuously working to introduce new varieties and recently two new types of the food commodity had been unveiled that would help enhance exports. LCCI President Abdul Basit, however, cautioned that it was alarming that despite being an agrarian economy Pakistan had not been able to reap potential benefits of rice trade.
“It is a matter of concern that during fiscal year 2015-16, the performance of agricultural sector, as a whole, remained dismal,” he said.
Basit said unlike other sectors of the economy, the agricultural sector recorded a negative growth of 0.19% compared to 2.53% expansion a year earlier.
The growth in crop production fell 6.25%, while other sub-components of the agricultural sector such as livestock, forestry and fishing posted a positive growth of 3.63%, 8.84% and 3.25%, respectively.
“It is really unfortunate that we lag terribly behind in producing the desired results. It is high time that our farmers and local entrepreneurs related to food and associated sectors are motivated to modernise their processes,” said Basit.
He added since there were a number of research institutions working under the control of food security ministry, they should use the platform to highlight benefits of adopting new ways and technologies to increase the existing low level of agricultural yield.
Former LCCI president Shahzad Ali Malik said the total size of Halal market in global trade was around $3 trillion and Pakistan had an insignificant share in it. “We have a natural base for producing Halal products and this unique characteristic should be aggressively marketed to earn an appropriate share.”
He said in addition to five export-oriented sectors, which had been declared zero-rated, the food sector should also be awarded the same status.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2016.