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Rising Incomes in Agriculture Sector Boost Pakistan's Rural Economy

Since taking the reins of power almost three years ago, the coalition government in Islamabad, which is led by the Pakistan Peoples' Party, has been increasing the support prices of wheat and other agricultural commodities every year. This policy has had the following effects:

1. It is transfering the additional new income of about Rs. 300 billion in the current fiscal year alone to the ruling party's power base of landowners in small towns and villages, from those working in the urban industrial and service sectors.

2. It has driven up food prices dramatically for all Pakistanis, particularly hurting the poor people the most.

3. It has reduced government tax revenues because the agricultural income is not taxed by either the federal or the provincial governments, and resulted in growing budget deficits.

4. It has significantly increased demand for consumer and industrial goods and services in the rural areas.

5. It has forced the State Bank of Pakistan to maintain a tight monetray policy which is drying up the much-needed credit for the industries and the average consumers alike.

In 2008, the government pushed the procurement price of wheat up from Rs. 625 per 40 kg to Rs. 950 per 40 kg. This action immediately triggered inflationary pressures that have continued to persist as food accounts for just over 40% of Pakistan's consumer price index. According to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) analysis, cumulative price of wheat surged by 120 per cent since 2008, far higher than the 40 per cent between 2003 and 2007. it is also many times greater than the international market price increase of 22 per cent for wheat in the same period. Similarly, sugar prices have surged 184 per cent higher since 2008, compared with 46 per cent increase during 2003-07.

The transfer of additional Rs. 300 billion to Pakistan's agriculture sector during the current fiscal year 2010-2011 by higher prices of agriculture produce and direct flood compensation to 1.6 million affected families at the rate of one hundred thousands rupees each will boost economic confidence in the countryside. It will generate rural demand for consumer items including consumer durables such as fans, TVs, motorcycles, cars, refrigerators, etc.

The big feudal landowners have been the biggest beneficiaries of the PPP's gift of high crop prices. However, the policy has helped small farmers as well, as shown by a recent survey reported by The Nation newspaper. The survey of 300 farmers in Sind's Sukkur district was conducted by Sukkur Institute of Business Administration for the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). It has highlighted the following about district's rural economy:

1. In Sukkur district, majority of the farmers are subsistence farmers. 31 percent of them own less than 5 acres of land, and another 34 percent own up to 12.5 acres of land.

2. They spend an average of Rs. 1,611 a month on their children's education, with some of them spending up to Rs. 12,000 a month.

3. Wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane are the major crops being cultivated by 93 per cent, 58 percent, 37 percent and 12 percent of the respondent farmers in that order.

4. 24 percent of them are also growing fruits including dates, mangoes and bananas.

5. 22 percent of the respondent own livestock.

6. About half (49 percent) use privately purchased seeds for wheat cultivation, 33 perecent use their own retained seed and 18 perecent use the seed purchased from Public Sector Seed Corporations.

7. On average, a farmer uses 96.73 Kg chemical fertilizer per acre with the maximum and minimum of 350 Kg and 40 Kg respectively. The average per acre cost of wheat production is Rs. 10,670.

8. All 300 farmers are using tractors for cultivation and preparing land for crops, and some are using tractors for fetching their crop produce to market.

Already, the upside of the government policy is that Pakistan's rural economy is being spurred by high crop prices that may help the GDP growth this year and next. Increased farm incomes are whetting the rural households' appetite for industrial and consumer goods in 2011 and beyond.



A key indicator of growing rural economy is the double digit increase in the sale of tractors. Millat Tractors Limited, the largest supplier of tractors in Pakistan, had record sales of 41,500 tractors in the calendar year 2010, an increase of nearly 11% over 37,537 tractors sold in 2009. Of these 41,500 tractors, a record 5000 tractors were sold in the month of Dec, 2010 alone, acording to The Nation newspaper. Millat sold 10,000 units under Benazir Tractor Scheme and 5,000 units under the Sindh government tractor scheme in the last fiscal year. Another 10,000 units were sold as part of the Punjab government scheme, 70 per cent of the units were sold, according to Dawn News.

Earlier, the sales of Fiat and Massey Ferguson tractors grew to 1,632 and 3,194 units in September 2010 from 537 and 3,100 in August 2010. The overall sales of these tractors rose to 13,931 during July-September 2010 as compared to 12,690 units in the same period of 2009, according to Dawn news.

Over 50 per cent of the motorcycles and 40-45 per cent of cars in Pakistan are purchased by people living in rural areas. Total car sales in July-September 2010(including Suzuki Bolan) rose by 12 per cent to 30,030 units as compared to 26,812 units in the same period of 2009, according to Pakistan Automotive Manufactureres Association PAMA). Furqan Punjani of Topline Securities said car sales are expected to reach 154,000 units by the end of June 2011.

In addition to rising demand for cars and tractors, there is also an upward trend in two-wheeler sales. The cumulative sales of motorcycles in July-September 2010 rose to 126,701 units from 105,862 units in the same period of 2009.

While it is good to see Pakistan's rural farm economy perk up, it is also important to recognize that the overall national economic outlook can not improve significantly unless the growing budget deficits and rising inflation are brought under control. And this will require the ruling feudal elite to pitch in by paying their fair share of income tax on their rising farm incomes. It is time for them to lead by example.

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Tags: Economy, Farmers, Food, Pakistan, Prices, Rural, Tractors

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 13, 2012 at 6:43pm

Here's a market research report on Pakistan's agriculture sector:

Pakistan Agribusiness service provides proprietary medium term price forecasts for key commodities, including corn, wheat, rice, sugar, cocoa, coffee, soy and milk; in addition to newly-researched competitive intelligence on leading agribusiness producers, traders and suppliers; in-depth analysis of latest industry developments; and essential industry context on Pakistan's agribusiness service.

Pakistan's agricultural output has steadily declined in its contribution to GDP in the past decade, down from 24.0% in 2000/01 to 20.9% in 2010/11. That said, the sector still employs the largest number of workers in the population and we expect the industry to remain a government priority as the country deals with issues of food security and the vulnerability to natural disasters. Over the long term, we foresee the dairy, poultry and wheat industries as benefiting the most from increased investment.

However, despite the existing network of irrigation systems across the country, we believe that significant improvements in infrastructure and better supply chains will have to be implemented in order for the country to reap the full benefits of its fertile soil.

Key Trends

- Rice production out to 2015/16: 7.5% to 7.3mn tonnes. We expect the country to increase its share in the basmati rice trade as production expands over our forecast period.
- Wheat consumption out to 2016: 14.2% to 25.3mn tonnes. Consumption growth will be driven by rising incomes and population growth, as well as increased access to good-quality milk.
- Sugar production out to 2015/16: 35.1% to 4.8mn tonnes. Large-scale consumers such as confectioners, candy makers and soft drink manufacturers account for about 60% of the total sugar demand and will be the main drivers of growth.
- 2012 Real GDP Growth: 3.8% (up from 2.4% y-o-y in 2011; forecast to average 3.7% from 2011 to 2016).
- Consumer Price Inflation: 11.2% average in 2012 (down from 13.7% in 2011).
- Central Bank Policy Rate: 12.0% (lower than 14.0% in 2011)
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South Asia rice exporters should benefit the most from the recent rice trade disruptions out of Thailand. So far, traders report that more than 100,000 tonnes of rice for export have been stalled as a result of the country's worst flooding in decades. Some sources estimate that this could rise to more than 300,000 tonnes. Given these developments, the spotlight has now turned to South Asia to meet demand for the grain in the near term.

Despite the recent floods, which destroyed approximately 20-30% of the sugarcane crop in the Sindh region, we forecast 2011/12 sugar output from Pakistan at 4.1mn tonnes, 2.5% up from our previous estimates. This is largely due to an overall 5-8% increase in sugarcane yields, area harvested and favourable monsoon rains during the growing season. Sugar crushing is estimated at 82% and sugar recovery at 8.8%. According to provincial reports, higher sugar prices farmers received last year, coupled with strong demand from the industrial sector, have boosted planting in the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhawah.

http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/b503cb/pakistan_agribusin

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 28, 2012 at 6:48pm

Here's an Express Tribune report on Psakistan's fruits and vegetables exported to Sri Lanka:

A Pakistan trade delegation, visiting Sri Lanka these days, has proposed setting up a body under the title Horticulture Export Marketing Access with the objective of facilitating export of agricultural produce to Sri Lankan markets.

The proposal was floated by the leader of the six-member delegation, Faqir Nusrat Husain, at a ceremony held in Colombo.

The delegation, sponsored by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, is on a week-long visit aimed at exploring ways and means to enhance bilateral trade in fruits and vegetables, flowers and other agricultural produce.

Team members include prominent agriculturalists from across the country, who have specialised in production and export of various fruits and vegetables including guava, chikoo, mango, citrus, berry, potato, dry fruits, gur, tobacco (cigar) and fresh and dry dates.

Faqir Husain told Sri Lankan agriculturalists that Pakistan’s fruits and vegetables had good quality and were also cheaper, adding Pakistan provided an ideal alternative to Sri Lanka, which imported these items from far-off countries.

Eager to reap maximum benefits from the free trade agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka, the delegation also planned to explore opportunities in the tea industry. In this regard, it will visit Kandy to interact with the local chamber of commerce and the Tea Research Board. It will also visit tea factories and spice gardens.

The team members plan to hold meetings with Sri Lankan fruit and dry fruit importers as well as other stakeholders to explore possibilities of enhancing bilateral trade.

Sri Lanka, which imported $300 million worth of agriculture produce from Pakistan last year, was the first country to sign an FTA with Pakistan. Since the agreement came into effect in June 2005, bilateral trade has strengthened and Pakistan is the second largest trade partner of Sri Lanka in the South Asian region.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/328188/pakistan-proposes-export-facilit...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 13, 2012 at 6:36pm

Here's a special CNN report on a Pakistani village by Wajahat Ali: This is a story affecting millions of Pakistanis — and it does not involve suicide bombings, honor killings, extremism or President Zardari's mustache.

"What would you like to be when you grow up?" I asked Sakafat, a boisterous 12-year-old girl, while visiting a remote Pakistani village in the Sindh province.

"A scientist!" she immediately replied. "Why can't we be scientists? Why not us?"

The confident Sakafat lives in Abdul Qadir Lashari village, which is home to 500 people in Mirpur Sakro. It is in one of the most impoverished regions of Pakistan.

There was a characteristic resilience and optimism in this particular village. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about Pakistan's often dysfunctional, surreal yet endearing daily existence.

The 500 villagers live in 48 small huts, except for the one "wealthy" family who recently built a home made of concrete. The village chief, Abdul Qadir Lashari, proudly showed off his village's brand-new community toilets, paved roads, and water pump that brings fresh water to the village.

These simple, critical amenities, taken for granted by most of us in the West, resulted from the direct assistance of the Rural Support Programmes Network, Pakistan's largest nongovernmental organization. RSPN has worked with thousands of similar Pakistani villages to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency.

I visited the Sindh village with RSPN to witness the results of using community organizing to alleviate poverty. The staff told me its goal was to teach villagers to "fish for themselves."

Every household in the Abdul Qadir Lashari village was able to reach a profit by the end of 2011 as a result of professional skills training, financial management, community leadership workshops and microloans.

Specifically, a middle-aged, illiterate woman proudly told me how she learned sewing and financial management and was thus able to increase her household revenue, manage her bills, and use a small profit to purchase an extra cow for the family. She was excited to introduce me to her cow, but sadly due to lack of time I was unable to make the bovine acquaintance.
--------
Asked what single thing she felt was most important most for her village, she replied education. Upon asking another elderly lady what she wishes for Pakistan, she repeated one word three times: "sukoon," which means peace.

When it was time to depart, the people of the village presented me with a beautiful handmade Sindhi shawl, an example of the craftwork the villagers are now able to sell for profit.

As I left the village with the dark red, traditional Sindhi shawl adorned around my neck, my thoughts returned to the 12-year-old girl, Sakafat, who passionately asked why she couldn't become a scientist.

I looked in her eyes and could only respond with the following: "You're right. You can be anything you want to be. And I have every confidence you will, inshallah ("God willing"), reach your manzil ("desired destination").

By focusing on education and local empowerment to lift the next generation out of poverty, Sakafat's dream could indeed one day become a reality for all of Pakistan.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/13/world/asia/pakistan-empowerment/index...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 14, 2012 at 8:58am

Here's an ET story on Engro supply chain in Pakistan: Have you ever wondered where the milk in packaged dairy products comes from? In case you assumed that big food companies maintained their own dairy farms that generated thousands of litres of milk daily and remained insulated from fluctuations in open market rates, you are wide of the mark.

In fact, only 5% of about 1.2 million litres of milk that Engro Foods collects every day for its dairy segment during the flush season – from January to April each year when fodder is available in abundance and milk production is high – comes from its own corporate farm located in Sukkur.

The rest of the milk supplies during the flush season and the summer, when milk production drops by roughly 50%, comes from about 15,000 small farmers scattered between Sanghar and Jhang districts, an area of 135,000 square kilometres.

Streamlined under Engro Milk Automation Network (EMAN), Engro Foods maintains a sales force of 1,500 people across 1,200 villages in Sindh and Punjab. They collect milk, mostly in small quantities, from farmers between 6:00am and 9:30am every day, which is then transported for further processing.

But why would a villager with just a few cattle sell the excess quantity of milk to Engro Foods instead of the traditional milk contractors known as dodhis?

According to Aamir Khawas, who works as head of milk procurement and agri services at Engro Foods, doing business with a large food company offers small farmers a number of benefits. “Animals are susceptible to diseases. Our network of veterinarians ensures sick animals receive immediate treatment. That’s a benefit no traditional milk contractor can offer,” he said.

Moreover, the moment a farmer sells milk to an Engro representative, in whatever small quantity, the transaction is recorded electronically in a centralised database by swiping the EMAN card that each of the 15,000 suppliers carries.

The availability of real-time data ensures that money is transferred to the farmer the day the transaction takes place. This is in contrast to the past practice of issuing receipts on paper that took at least a week before a transaction was recorded and payment processed.

In addition, Engro’s advisory service helps farmers increase milk production. “There’re two ways for a farmer to increase his revenue. If he gets Rs41 instead of Rs40 per litre, his revenue increases by Re1. But if the milk output increases by one litre, his revenue increases by Rs40. We help him do the latter,” Khawas said.

So how does Engro ensure that the milk is pure? “It’s very easy. We pay farmers not on the litres of milk they bring to us. Rather, the basis of payment is total solid contents of the milk,” he said, explaining that milk consists of three things – water, fat and solid non-fat (SNF). Total solid contents are the sum of fat and SNF.

“It’s hard to adulterate when the quantity is low. So no matter how much water you add, the solid contents can easily be determined by running a few tests,” he said.

A total of 13 tests are carried out when a farmer hands over milk to an Engro representative. It is picked up from there by an Engro van that carries out another 20 tests on the collected milk. It then reaches the regional office where 30 more tests are done to check its quality. Eventually, milk is taken to the Engro plant where the final 40 tests take place before it is processed, packaged and dispatched to the retail market.

With the demand of milk increasing by 15% annually and supply rising by just 2% a year in Pakistan, the dairy sector looks like a heaven for investment. The Sukkur farm of Engro Foods has already grown 10 times since its inception with about 3,000 cows. “Yet we’re looking for a major expansion in the near future.”

http://tribune.com.pk/story/378282/the-benefits-of-business-with-a-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 24, 2012 at 4:40pm

Here's a Daily Times story on Pak mango exports:

Mango farmers across Pakistan continue their partnership with USAID to maximise yields, improve product quality, introduce better packaging and create market linkages.

Seven mango farms from Sindh are already scheduled to send commercial shipments to high-end markets across the globe in June of this year.

All these advancements are helping Pakistani mango growers tap into new export markets with each passing season. As the mango season for 2012 begins, this partnership continues to bear fruit. Ghulam Sarwar Abro said a private farm in Kotri Sindh has been a partner with USAID’s Mango Programme.

“We are confident with USAID’s support, all of the ground work has been done. We have the required standards, infrastructure and linkages to tap the international markets on a competitive footing.” More farms will participate in commercial shipments as soon as harvesting begins in Punjab. USAID has signed Infrastructure Upgrade Agreements (IUAs) with 15 mango farmers across Pakistan on a cost-sharing basis to build pack houses.

USAID has also provided assistance to 15 farmers in achieving GlobalGAP certification under a similar cost-share agreement and has planned to increase this number by the end of this season by adding another 12 certified farms.

The USAID Mango Programme is currently in its third year and this year the programme is specifically concentrating on enhancing the market linkages for Pakistan’s mango sector.

He said this project is designed to help the Pakistani economy achieve its export potential. The project has three main areas of interest including an improved Pakistan trade environment through improved regulation, policies, systems and capacity, facilitation of trade at Pakistani borders and establishment of sustainable and competitive Special Economic Zones, including Reconstruction Opportunity Zones.

The project emphasises capacity-building activities that facilitate increased exports from industry, services and agriculture enterprises.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\05\25\story_25-5-2012_pg5_9

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 9, 2012 at 7:47pm

Here's a Daily Times story on hot water treatment of Pak mangoes for export:

Pakistan’s largest hot water treatment plant for removal of various diseases in mango was inaugurated on Saturday. It has been established under the public-private partnership according to the standard of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Quarantine Standards by the name of Pakistani Horti Fresh Processing (Pvt) Ltd.

The project which was completed in record period of 20 months with its inception has helped to open three new markets for mangoes including Mauritius, Lebanon and South Korea while the Australia is expected to be approved soon which would greatly help boosting Pakistan’s mango exports during the coming ongoing season.

Pakistani mangoes have nine diseases in common, which was unacceptable in the international market but with the start of the operational activities of the new plant, importers have expressed their keenness to place large-scale order for the most desired fruit of the summer season.

It may be recalled here that majority of countries have placed strict conditions regarding import of fruits from across-the-globe and in case of mango, they have requirement of their hot water treatment on 48 degree centigrade for 65 minutes, which makes the fruit acceptable for import purpose.

Currently, Pakistan’s total average mango export stands at 150,000 tonnes which is hardly 8.0 percent of the total annual production of 1.6 million tonnes, which was usually attributed by the exporters on account of limited market access to Pakistani exporters.

Durrani Associates has established the project in collaboration with Ministry of Commerce. Its chief executive highlighting salient features of the project, said that the plant installed has the capacity to process 15 tonnes of the fruit per hour pn 48 C for 60 to 65 minutes.

Similarly for the first time, Ethylene Chamber facility was also used which give colour to mango by food graded Ethylene having no harmful impact on human health as compared to carbide which is widely used in the country for ripening fruit and is spelling harmful diseases for fruit consumers.

He claimed that the biggest breakthrough created by the Pakistan Horti Fresh processing is that now mangoes can be shipped by sea for destinations as far as UK and Canada with shelf life of 35 days.

As compared to by air freight of mangoes to UK which costs Rs 137 per kilogramme (kg) charged by Emirates Airline, the new technology would cost a mere Rs 12 per kg, which would herald new life in exports of fruits to different countries across the globe.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\06\10\story_10-6-2012_pg5_14

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 8, 2012 at 8:09pm

Here's Daily Times on mango export processing in Pakistan:

Pakistan is considered as a country, lagging behind the developed world regarding science and technology, but the situation was not as much worst as seen, because Pakistan has an edge in treatment of mangoes and its shelving.

Mango is a well-regarded fruit and is known as ‘King of fruits’. Mango appears in local markets as the summer season commences.

Globally, it is one of the most eaten fruits. As many as 11 countries, including Pakistan export mangoes. To meet the global standards, mangoes are treated before export. There are four ways of treatment, out of which three are recognised across the world: hot water treatment (HWT), vapor heat treatment (VHT) and radiation.

There are nine types of bacteria that prevail in mangoes. To kill all of those, in most common way of hot water treatment, mangoes are treated with hot water for one hour, during which the temperature is managed at 75 degree centigrade. Resultantly, the pores at mangoes surface get rupture and its shelving become difficult.

Pakistan has a double edge in regard with treatment and shelving of mangoes. The country has a capacity to treat 15 tonnes of mangoes per hour. Besides this, Pakistani private sector has ability of shelving mangoes for 35 days after treatment, however, the rest of exporter countries could shelve mangoes for maximum seven days.

Recently, Pakistan has achieved another significant achievement in export of mangoes sector. Pakistani has recently initiated to export mangoes to China, which itself is the second largest producer and one among the largest consumers of mangoes.

Though China itself produce mangoes in massive quantity, it still is a vast market for Pakistani mangoes as locally produced mango is small in size and less sweet, however, Chinese people like larger in size and sweeter mangoes and Pakistani types of mangoes all their desired qualities.

AQ Khan Durrani, the owner of treatment plants in Pakistan and exporter of mangoes to China, said while talking to the Daily Times that China is biggest country in term of population and is 2nd largest producer of mango in the world with production of 4.5 million tonnes of mangoes annually. Chinese people like mangoes a lot and while exploring this big market of ‘mango lovers’, Pakistan can earn millions of dollar in fruit sector.

“China can be the biggest market of Pakistan mangoes and within three years Pakistani export can be doubled,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Pakistan produces 1.6 to two million tons of mangoes annually and was ranked fourth to fifth among producer countries of mango. The dire need of hour is that the government should follow and respond to the achievements and strive of private sector, which is going to explore even largest producer countries of mango as consumer market.

Pakistan would become the largest producer and exporter of mangoes due to the quality of local mango, if the government supports the sector. This also would result in very positive impacts on local economy and the position of the country as well.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\09\story_9-7-2012_pg7_16

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 10, 2012 at 6:24pm

Here's a BR report on PM Raja talking about PPP's pro-farmer policies:

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf Tuesday said prudent and farmers-friendly policies of the PPP led government has helped injection of Rs500 billion in the rural economy ultimately benefiting the farming community in the country.

"Due to our pro-farming policies and due payments of agriculture produce of the farmers specially in wheat production, Pakistan once an wheat importing country has now become an exporting country and we are self sufficient in wheat production", the Prime Minister said while addressing APP regularization certificate distribution ceremony to distribute letters among the contract and daily wages employees of Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), here at the Prime Minister Secretariat today.

http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/66940-pro-farmer...

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 16, 2012 at 4:32pm

Here's a BR report on Pakistani mangoes:

Pakistan produces over 150 varieties of mango and among these Chaunsa and Sindhri have great potential for finding buyers in the international markets.

Talking to APP on Monday Secretary Agriculture Punjab Muhammad Mushtaq Ahmed said Punjab holds 67 percent of the total area and produces 80 percent of country's mango.

He said total production of mangoes in Punjab during 2011-12 was 1.304 tons and Pakistan is of high quality with good aroma, excellent appearance, special taste and flavor along with sufficient quantity of fiber content thus enjoying a prominent position in the international market.

To a question, he said Pakistan produces over 1.75 million tons of mangoes out of which 127 tons are exported, currently only 5 percent of the total mango produce is processed in to value added items like pulp for use in drinks and ice cream, canned mangoes and dried mangoes.

He said Pakistan exported mangoes worth $ 29 million to the Middle East and EU in 2009 and Malaysia, China and Hong Kong are other valuable trading partners.

http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/business-a-economy/68148-pakistan...

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 6, 2012 at 8:17am

Here's an ET report on Pak mangoes exports to US made unprofitable by irradiation restrictions:

Pakistani exporters are abandoning much-publicised mango exports to the United States after just a year because American requirements made profit margins too narrow, members of the industry said Monday.

In 2011, Pakistani growers exported five tons of the country’s signature fruit to the United States and had hoped for a higher yield this year.

But if exports grind to a halt, it could prove embarrassing for efforts dubbed “mango diplomacy” in 2010 when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered to help Pakistan export the fruit in a bid to ease anti-Americanism.

The US embassy was unavailable for comment, but announced in January that US support had helped select mango growers increase regional exports by more than 60 percent and revenue by more than $4 million over the past year.

Pakistani officials confirmed the assistance, but said sending mangoes to the United States was not cost effective.

“Pakistan cannot export mangoes to the United States this season because of certain restrictions, which the growers feel makes the business unprofitable,” Kashif Niazi, an official at the commerce ministry, told AFP.

An official at the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, which regulates exports, said producers had been annoyed by compulsory US irradiation in Chicago that ate into their profits.

Although Pakistan has its own irradiation plant, it has not been approved by the United States. Transporting the mangoes to the United States has been another expense and complication, the Pakistanis added.

Asif Iqbal, a mango grower in Sargodha district of Punjab province, told AFP that unless the irradiation issue was resolved and more US markets found “it will never be profitable for us to do business with America”.

A Pakistani official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity confirmed that US aid had helped modernise mango production and improve exports, particularly to the Gulf.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/418256/pakistan-to-halt-mango-exports-t...

Here's Pakistan Times on Benazir Tractor Scheme:

ISLAMABAD: All arrangements have been finalized to hold balloting of Benazir Tractors Scheme to provide subsidized tractors for growers.

The balloting for the scheme is expected to be held on September 6.This was stated by the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture (MinFA), Nazar Muhammad Gondal responding to the live calls of the people after inaugurating the radio programme “Aaj Mandi key Bhao”, here on Monday.

The minister said that preparations had been finalized to provide 10,000 tractors to farmers under Benazir Tractor Scheme.

It may be recalled that about 355,000 printed application forms had been provided to farmers through the ZTBL branches in addition to those who applied on-line.

About 340,000 application were received, of which 277,106 were finalized for balloting of the scheme.

For Punjab province 5000 tractors, Sindh 2000, NWFP 1200 and for Balochistan 850 tractors would be allocated.

In AJK, FATA 350 tractors each while FANA 200 tractors and Federal Capital 50 tractors quota is fixed.

http://www.pakistantimes.net/pt/detail.php?newsId=3863

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