In a bid to ramp up efforts for enhancing agricultural cooperation between Pakistan and China under Phase-II, another milestone progress which has finally taken shape is the conceptual launch of the Pakistan-China Friendship Farm. The Pakistan-China Friendship Farm has set the tone for Pakistan-China agricultural cooperation.
Okara, known as the land of agriculture, was chosen for the birth, formalisation and materialisation of the Pakistan-China Friendship Farm. No doubt, the credit goes to Chinese Consulate Lahore under the leadership of acting Consul General of People’s Republic of China Lahore Peng Zhengwu and Okara Farmers’ leader and provincial lawmaker Muneeb ul Haq. The Pakistan-China Friendship Farm is designed to play a pivotal role in integrating Chinese agro-based companies with Pakistan farmers, agriculturists, exporters and businessmen to help tap all avenues in the domain of digital & corporate agriculture that are still unexplored and undiscovered.
Given the scenario, Pakistan farmers are going to be the main beneficiary of the innovative agricultural advancements, digitalisation, intercropping, seed technology, state-of-the-art agro-industrial machines, laser land-levelling techniques and the hybrid crop mechanism. Modern livestock and dairy developments are the other benefits to be availed by Pakistani traders.
In terms of the conceptual launch of the Pakistan-China Friendship Farm, acting Consul General of the People’s Republic of China Lahore, Peng Zhengwu visited Okara on special invitation of MPA Muneeb ul Haq and MNA Fiaz Zafar. Mr Peng was accompanied by a Chinese delegation consisting of the Chinese consulate Lahore, political section Chief Mr Du Ye and consular Attache Mr Chen Bo. Other delegates were Zhengbang Agriculture Pakistan Pvt Ltd GM Mr Zhang Shilu, Zhengbang Farm Pakistan Pvt Ltd GM Mr Shi Linkun, Sichuan Litong Food Co, Ltd Administrative Director Mr Zhang Hongjian, Hubei Huimin Agriculture Technology Co Ltd GM Wang Qiang, Challenge Apparels Limited GM Ms Chen Yan and Administrative Director Mr Fei Baoming.
Addressing the gathering, Acting Consul General of the People’s Republic of China Lahore Peng Zhengwu said that the relevant theoretical framework for the further materialisation of Pakistan-China Friendship Farm is to be designed in consultation with agro-based Chinese companies, Pakistani farmers and traders in the coming days. MPA Ch Muneeb ul Haq and senior member Ch Fiaz Zafar, while addressing the gathering, requested China to invest in Okara. They demanded that Okara be made a twin city with a Chinese city and wanted an industrial park to be set up. Under CPEC phase-II, Pakistan and China have already signed an MoU to enhance cooperation in the agricultural sector. The agreed areas of joint working under the MoU include technology transfer and collaboration in R&D, enhancing agriculture trade and cooperation in the agricultural, livestock and dairy industries. An average yield of wheat is only 3 tonnes per hectare in Pakistan, which can be improved substantially by using seeds of the high-yield, anti-drought variety with resistance to insects and pests. As for rice cultivation, China’s hybrid rice technology is recommended. For sugar cane and potatoes, the virus-free tissue culture sapling is a good choice.
China has many technologies suitable for crops in Pakistan, including compound planting, smart agriculture, water-saving irrigation and greenhouses. Recently, two Pakistani students from China’s Sichuan Agricultural University, used the maize-soybean strip intercropping technology in Punjab, which has achieved satisfactory results. Greenhouse planting can also promote the development of vegetables, edible fungus and flowers in Pakistan. Taking advantage of agricultural machinery, agricultural materials, China’s fertiliser and pesticide, Pakistan should go for green pesticides and organic fertilisers to reduce pollution from agricultural non-point sources. It is also encouraging that China and Pakistan are closely working together to promote the trade of agricultural products. To date, China and Pakistan have signed the quarantine risk protocols for rice, citrus and mangoes. The two sides need to accelerate the signing of protocols for onions, potatoes and cherries as well.
Pakistan must make good use of e-commerce and strengthen commercial promotions and marketing to inform the Chinese market more about its high-quality agricultural products. It is hoped that with agricultural cooperation, the Pakistan-China trade imbalance might be improved and bilateral trade could soon reach more than $30 billion. If it reaches $100 billion with several years of effort, Pakistan will become China’s largest trading partner in the South Asian subcontinent. The Pakistani government and enterprises should strengthen promotion in the Chinese market by participating in exhibitions and holding exhibitions so that Chinese importers and consumers can better understand the best Pakistani products. Lastly, while actively exploring the Chinese market, Pakistan needs to take further measures to improve transportation, product packaging, inspection and quarantine regulations.