According to Waheed Ahmed, the Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Export Association (PFVA) , Pakistan is currently confronted with an alarming situation due to unprecedented serious effects of corona virus pandemic. Putting aside their political differences, all political parties must be united at this crucial time for development of the agriculture and horticulture sector, so that in case of any likely internal and external crises, the food security of Pakistan can be ensured – Waheed emphasized. All industrial sectors are under immense pressure due to Coronavirus pandemic, however the demand of agriculture produces, fruits and vegetables have multiplied manifolds. Suspension of flights has created serious threats for transportation and trading sectors. Transportation of food stuff via sea route is also experiencing problems and under these circumstances only those countries having adequate food for their local population and strong agriculture sector can encounter such serious crisis – Waheed highlighted. .
Due to curtailment of operations by airlines, the export of fruit and vegetable to Europe, Far East and Middle East faces serious threat while closure of hotels, restaurants and sharp drop in tourism, there is a significant reduction in demand of fruits & vegetables in the world. Mega super stores are shutting down as preventive measures against the deadly Coronavirus, which is having pronounced negative impact on export of fruits and vegetables as well – Waheed disclosed. It is anticipated, if the present situation prevails for next two months, the overall export of fruits and vegetables from Pakistan is likely to sustain huge loss of US$ 150 million – Waheed cautioned. Should the Coronavirus pandemic is not fully controlled then the export of mango which is due to commence from June would also be seriously affected leading to huge financial losses to the exporters as well as agriculture sector. After sealing of western border of Pakistan, export of fruit and vegetable via land routes to Iran, Afghanistan and central Asian Countries have also been suspended.
Waheed stated that under the prevailing environment, posing stiff challenges to the trade world-wide, conducting a national debate on Agriculture at Islamabad on 12th March by the speaker of National assembly was a timely initiative and is commendable which underlined the desperate need for all the political parties to leave aside their political differences & develop a national consensus for the development of the Agriculture sector.
In this context, serious efforts shall be made by all the political parties to chalk out the well-defined policy to ensure implementation of the recommendations spelled out in the 10 years’ comprehensive road map titled “Pakistan Horticulture Vision – 2030” developed by the PFVA for rapid growth of this sector. – Waheed added. Serious approach displayed by the speaker national assembly on development of Agriculture and active participation by President Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quershi, large number of members’ assembly & cabinet on national dialogue clearly reflected that the political leadership was well aware of paramount importance & stiff challenges, the agriculture sector is confronted with and the dire need to find out realistic solution for it’s development. It’s high time to initiate concrete steps for implementation of national policy on Agriculture with mutual consultation of all stakeholders – Waheed stressed.
Waheed Ahmed representing the PFVA in the conference on national dialogue delivered a comprehensive presentation on “Horticulture Vision – 2030”. This is a policy document which has been developed with mutual consultations of all stakeholders which includes national and foreign experts, farmers & the concerned Provincial Ministers and fully covers objectives and targets of the national dialogue. This road map developed by the PFVA through a tedious and time consuming process of consultations has not only been deeply acknowledged by the members of assemblies, the experts have also declared that this road map is a realistic documents for development of national policy for the Agriculture sector.
The PFVA’s Horticulture Vision -2030 basically dishes out issues and barriers in further growth of this sector and by overcoming these obstacles, the promising potential of this sector can be fully exploited leading to significant increase in GDP, improvement in per capita income, enhancement in national exports, poverty alleviation, improvement in standard of living of rural population, reduction in foods’ infection, improvement in health care by ensuring availability of food in adequate quantity and preventing migration of rural population to cities so that various social problems arising of this process can be addressed , are just a few salient objectives of the vision -2030 – Waheed elaborated.
The export of fruits & vegetable can be enhanced to USD 2.5 billion within a period of five years should the recommendations given in the Vision-2030 on short, medium and long term policies is fully implemented – Waheed assured.
According to Waheed Amed, Pakistan is in list of one of the top countries, badly affected by Global Warming and it’s Agriculture sector is likely to be the most affected sector due to this negative impact. On one hand the Agriculture sector of Pakistan has been hit by scarcity of water while on other hand, rapid increase in the population is leading to an extra-ordinary demand of food and more than often to get out of such crises, the country has no other option but to go for import which in turn puts immense pressure on our foreign reserves.
While spreading of coronavirus has created numerous tough challenges, it would equally open doors of opportunities in future and to take full advantage of that specific situation, it’s imperative to work on war-footings to strongly develop the agriculture sector. Bright opportunity awaits to enhance exports to USD 25 billion alone on medium –term basis if the Govt. and political parties with mutual consensus work together for development of Agriculture sector – Waheed claimed.