ISLAMABAD, Oct 11 (KUNA) -- Amid rising food insecurity across the world
and while Wheat crop has been turned into a political crop in the country,
Pakistan is entering into corporate farming.
Pakistan is slowly opening to the Corporate Farming and is currently
holding talks with foreign investors from at least three Gulf countries
including Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arab, an official of the Federal Food Ministry
told KUNA on the condition of anonymity.
The official said that a Qatar-based company has shown keen interest in the
government's Kollurkar farm located in the Punjab province, near capital. He
said a series of talks are being held in this regard and hoped to finalize the
feasibility report on it soon.
The official said that the Corporate Farming will create a win-win
situation, adding that it will not only satisfy the food needs of the
Pakistanis but the government will also have surplus for export as the
companies have better technology than our farmers.
Beside, the three countries, said the official, China, Germany and other
Gulf countries have also shown interest in corporate farming in Pakistan.
The likely projects of Corporate farming include fruit juice plant,
production of furfural from sugarcane bagasses, cattle farming, meat
processing, dairy farming, fisheries, horticulture, off-season vegetables
production, sunflower hybrid seed production, solvent oil extraction from rice
bran, production of mutton through raising of sheep and goats, animal feed
mills, and paper board from local fiber.
According to the Board of Invesment (BOI) the available land for corporate
farming, as per reports of the provinces, include 31,111 acres in Punjab and 6.
6 million acres in Cholistan.
The idea of Corporate Farming is not a new idea as it is already part of
the Companies' Act 1984. However, the new civilian government has started
serious work on it after it was suggested by a friendly Middle Eastern state
during the President's recent visit to the country.
Unlike the optimism of the federal government, the idea of corporate
farming has evoked more fears than hopes among farmers as the new policy
package for its implementation involves coordinated work of about eleven
ministries including the federal ministry of industries and production and the
Board of Investment.
The corporate farming is a beautiful world and in a country like Pakistan
it will only create poverty, dislocate thousands of families, Ibrahim Mughal,
the head of Pakistan Farmers Forum (PFF), told KUNA.
He said 80 percent of the farming is being done in eastern Punjab province
and when the lands will be provided to the private investor it will dislocate
He said currently seven million families in Pakistan are doing agribusiness
and six million of them have very small holding, adding that recommending
corporate farming for 93 percent of these families is "a good joke".
He recommended the government to instead of corporate farming, initiate the
policy of contract farming and provide credits and better technology to the
local farmers so that the producer remains the owner.
Heavy involvement of bureaucracy is what farmers are afraid of this new
policy package of the old idea, said a farmer while declining to divulge his
name. He said the middle and low class farmers especially feel threatened by
the involvement of foreign companies in this sector.
Pakistan is an agriculture-based economy and wheat has been the most
essential commodity of its agribusiness. Despite, large capacity to create
wheat surplus, the government has to import a large quantity of it.
It was the wheat shortage that led to the loss of pro-Musharraf government
of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) in March elections, a fact admitted by the
The government has been changed now and has democratic posture but the
political pros and cons remain the same. Despite being heavily entangled into
militancy and terrorism issue, the main concern of the key war ally the United
States, the leading political parties are playing the card of agriculture to
make scores against each other.
The PML-N in the eastern Punjab province introduced several packages during
Ramadan to provide wheat at cheaper rates, step to boost its credibility.
Though, it is a risky investment but still we lack capital and our farming
industry is outdated. We need to look towards other possible options, said Dr.
Qais Aslam, a leading economist.
Another farmer, member of the Farmers Association of Pakistan, said that
private investment in the sector is the need of hour but it cannot be
implemented at the cost of poor farmers. He said it depends on the government
how it copes with all the risks involved.
Ramzan Ali, a leading agriculture expert, in his article writes that the
world food industry's USD two trillion annual turnover is bringing back
transnational companies to the agriculturally rich and fertile lands including
ours. He says the idea can prove to be lethal for the poor peasants of our
country if appropriate and comprehensive measures are not taken timely by the
He is of the opinion that it will have complex effects on our environment,
economy, and urban and rural social fabric. (end)
KUNA 110901 Oct 08NNNN