KARACHI: To strengthen the industrial base in rural Sindh, the Government of Sindh is working on an industrial zone in Khairpur – the city of dates – where construction is in full swing. The Khairpur Special Economic Zone (KSEZ), being developed in Tando Nazar Ali as a hub of agro-processing and other related industries, is spread over 140 acres.
The idea behind KSEZ is to develop an agro-industrial sector in Pakistan to redesign policies for promoting productivity in deferent sectors of the economy. The plan is to use locally available raw material, together with developing highly-skilled manpower, to address the development needs of such areas through rapid industrialisation with community participation. The value-added industrial processing facilities that will be set up in Khairpur will hopefully have a significant impact on the performance of the agricultural sector through reducing wastage, increasing profits and, above all, boosting exports.
Opportunity for date exporters
Since the production and export of date palm has been registering a declining pattern over time, there is an urgent need to pay immediate attention towards production, processing and quality enhancement, preservation, research and marketing facilities to save and ensure the growth of this potent source of foreign exchange.
Sindh is the largest dates producing province of Pakistan. It produced around 329,900 tons of dates during 2009-2010, which accounted for around 52% of the total dates produced that year. These dates are produced on an area of around 279,855 hectares in Sindh. Khairpur and Sukkur are the main districts: they have the highest production because of suitable climatic and soil conditions. Almost 80% of Sindh’s dates are produced in these two districts.
KSEZ is located in the proximity of date-growing areas. Its location is ideal for setting up date processing and packaging plants that can export different varieties of dates and fetch a high price for this value-added product in international markets.
According to Harvest Tradings CEO Ahmad Jawad, Pakistani date exports can be enhanced to between $200 million and $240 million per annum if proper processing and packaging facilities are introduced. Currently, the country earns around only $28 million from date exports, which does not reflect the real potential of this sector.
THE WRITER IS A PUBLIC RELATIONS EXECUTIVE AT NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL PARKS DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT COMPANY
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2013.
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