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Report: Strategies and Synergies in Agriculture Cooperation under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

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Introduction

The Centre for BRI and China Studies- Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies in collaboration with Riphah Institute of Public Policy, Riphah International University organized a video Webinar on “Strategies and Synergies in Agriculture Cooperation under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)” on Saturday, 2nd May 2020 at 3 pm (PST). The webinar was joined by people from both China and Pakistan which included experts in agriculture, students, and other stakeholders.

The webinar had four key speakers including Dr. Gu Wenliang who is an Agriculture Commissioner at the Embassy of China to Pakistan, Hassan Daud Butt, The CEO KP-Board of investment and Trade, Dai-Bao who is the vice G.M. CMEC Pakistan office and Professor Sajid Khursheed who is Faculty of Tsinghua University and Department Head of Canadian International School of Beijing.

Event Proceedings:

Ms. Farhat Asif

Ms. Farhat Asif, CEO Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies welcomed all the participants in the webinar and introduced all the panelists to the participants. She then acknowledged the collaboration between the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies in collaboration with the Riphah Institute of Public Policy that is headed by professor Rashid Aftab who is an academician in arranging the webinar. Ms. Farhat Asif then briefly introduced the work of Peace and Diplomatic Studies stating that IDPS is a think tank that encourages research, working for bridging the gaps and developing the understanding amongst the groups, institutions, that would lead up to the understanding of different pressing issues.

She thanked the participants for joining the panel and welcomed Dr. Rashid Aftabn to share his remarks regarding the webinar discussion.

Dr. Rashid Aftab

Dr. Aftab, head of Riphah Institute of Public Policy welcomed the panelists. He said that he is humbled that the panelists have taken their precious time to share their thoughts on the critical issues relating to agriculture corporation between the two countries. He stated that the government has already established corporations under CEPC in 2019 by the name of the Pak-China Agriculture forum. This discussion aims to revitalize the whole agriculture system in Pakistan. He stated that Agriculture is the main source of employment in Pakistan and we need to look forward to the opportunities CEPC has to provide in Pakistan. We have to develop our products considering the Chinese experience he added.

He then mentioned the challenges that agriculture is facing currently in Pakistan. Some of the challenges he mentioned were high tariff, pre- and post-harvest challenges, exports remain low and outdated techniques of harvest.

He summarized the aspects and said that the most important strategies are value chain competitiveness, tariff, and non-tariff issues and technology corporations, and research corporations.

Mr. Dai Bao:

Mr. Dai Bao individually thanked all the panel members of the webinar. He introduced the company china machinery engineering corporation Pakistan subsidiary co- limited he is working for. He stated that the company has been invested in research in Pakistan. He shared the proposal of the company for agriculture in a detailed presentation.

In his presentation on the New Era China Pakistan Agriculture Programme, he shared the details of the project. First, he discussed the general background of Pakistan such as the large population of Pakistan. He mentioned that improving the living standards and the economy is key for the Pakistan government and for economic prosperity Pakistan needs to switch from traditional agriculture to a modern agricultural system.

He shared a chart of the Food Security Risk factor and mentioned that Pakistan has a very high food security risk problem linking it to the food crisis problem due to the pandemic of COVID-19.

He then discussed the possibilities for Pakistan’s agricultural growth. Some of the aspects he highlighted were the good climate conditions, better water facilities, sufficient labor market, good global location, and good relationship with China.

He further shares how Pakistan can improve its agricultural benefits. He mentioned 4 ways to improve Pakistan’s agriculture system including using smart ways, modernizing the agriculture system in Pakistan, industrialization, and globalization.

Mr. Dai Bao touched on the topic of huge cultural wastelands in Pakistan and said that Pakistan can improve agriculture production by using the land wasted and can prosper in agriculture. He recommended utilizing the wasted land in Pakistan and shared some of how Pakistan can yield better crop production. Some of the ways to improve better crop production mentioned were using the latest technology in agriculture, increasing inputs such as pesticides, insecticides, and insisted that these should be organic pesticides. He further mentioned the deep processing of food and to start trading globally.

He shared the proposal of the New Era China Pakistan Agriculture Programme under phase II. He stated that we focus on crop farms, cattle farms, food deep processing, inputs, and trading and services. He further shared the long-term plan for Halal meat to China and the Middle east. The different farms included goat farms, buffalo farms, ostrich and camel farms, and seafood production.

Mr. Dai Bo then discussed the long-term plan for deep seafood processing and including the plans of urbanization and poverty alleviation. He finally explained the road map of the development of the program and concluded with discussing the business model for the project.

 

Hassan Daud Butt

Mr. Hassan Daud congratulated the efforts of both IPDS and Rafah institute for arranging the webinar and appreciated the participation of the audience. He stated that CPEC offers a lot of potentials and is hope for a lot of sectors and people in Pakistan who are attached to agriculture.

He said that we cannot become the food basket of the Middle East and Africa unless we work on looking at it on a larger canvas and in the future, the demand for food will increase. He mentioned that Pakistan is less stressed in terms of food than our neighbors in terms of food because we have made sure that the supply chain for food remains open.

He mentioned being a part of the KPK-Scheme task for which was responsible for exemptions granted to industries. He highlighted that the first exemption was given to the food industry and agriculture services during COVID- 19 lockdowns. He said that there are a few areas that we need to look at that includes new technologies, both from China and innovating by Pakistani engineers after observing the context of Pakistan.

He emphasized that the research has been done and the need for moving forward to the implementation part. He called on investors to invest in the agriculture sector and particularly addressed Dai Bo to come to KPK to work with the Pakistani government to enhance the agriculture sector of Pakistan. He invited all investors to discuss and work on

areas of agriculture.

He later talked about water stress. He stated that Pakistan is a water stress country and we are under pressure. In that regard as well the Chasma Canal project remains a number one priority as far as CPEC is concerned. We will continue to work on the agriculture canvas from North to South.

He discussed some of the areas that have the potential for agriculture such as Waziristan and other areas. He talked about some of the exports such as tobacco.

He gave some recommendations including:

  • Need to work on SPS
  • Co-marketing and Co-branding
  • Training for the common farmers.

He said it’s time to take action and investment in agriculture.

 


Sajid Khurseed:

He thanked IDPS and Rapha public institute for the invite.

He talked about how China can help the agricultural economic sector to boost its economy this way. He highlighted the importance of agriculture in Pakitan by stating some facts. He said that Pakistan’s economy is based on the agriculture sector and 60 percent of the export earning comes from agriculture. Agriculture also contributes towards employment and 44 percent of the workforce is engaged in agriculture.

In 2019 Pakistan china agriculture cooperation center was established in Islamabad and after that, China has opened its market to Pakistani products such as mango and rice he added. He recalled all the assistant from China companies and the help from China government to Pakistan.

He further talked about the top exports of Pakistan such as rice and sugar and mentioned that in future Pakistan’s sugar can market will be benefitted by sugar cane research form the Chinese market.

He mentioned the negations Pakistan China free trade agreement as another important agreement. According to that report, Pakistan china exports are expected to reach 3.2 billion dollars by 2020.

He shared some of the obstacles which includes

  • Low spending on research
  • Lack of certified seats
  • Low yield of crops
  • Scarcity of agriculture water
  • Skilled farm labor
  • Insufficient storage for food
  • Lack of finances

Dr. Gu Wenliang

Dr. Gu Wenliang expressed his gratitude for being a part of the webinar. He highlighted and shared updates on the Pakistan China agriculture Corporation with

the participants.

He first discussed the pandemic of Covid-19 and related issues that Pakistan and China had to face. He mentioned the mutual support between China and Pakistan during the COVID-19 and said that Pakistan and China have always helped each other overcome obstacles and he would share similar stories about agriculture cooperation between the two countries.

He mentioned the visits to Punjab, Baluchistan, and other provinces with experts and share the findings of the visit. He stated that there were some issues with monitoring and evaluation, lack of pesticides including low cost.

He shared some of the recommendations given by Chinese experts based on the experience form Chinese agriculture to overcome these problems of low crops that included processing monitoring, regional governance, prevention and control, and technical support. He mentioned the help from China to Pakistan in terms of Pesticides. He emphasized that the second wave of the low cost will occur soon as predicted by the Chinese experts and mentioned that it is crucial to use the pesticides to overcome the low cost.

Dr. Gu said that during the visit of Dr. Alvi, Pakistan, and China has pledged to cooperate towards each other including the low cost in agriculture of Pakistan. CPEC is another way of cooperation between the two countries especially in Agriculture he added. He further said that the meetings held by both the countries to enhance the cooperation between the two countries.

Dr. Rashid Aftab

Dr. Rashid Aftab presented the concluding remarks. He first summarized the talks and presented his point of view on then. He then thanked everyone for participating in the Seminar.

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