By Najam ul Hassan
ISLAMABAD, Dec 29 (APP):Developing agriculture entrepreneurship modules at village-level may not only control the rural-urban migration but also help reversing the trend.
The agriculture entrepreneurship at village level will create hundreds of thousands of jobs besides promoting culture of value addition to raw agri products which has the potential to boost the country’s exports by 3-4 times.
“In order to embark upon the idea of agriculture value addition we are planning to develop entrepreneurship modules in research institutions where the people taking interest in this business would be offered such value added agriculture modules,” Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan said.
Talking to APP here, he said people who accept the offer would be given proper skill development training to make the modules successful.
Basically such small scale value addition initiatives could also be promoted with training and financial back up.
The PARC Chairman said the economic development of other Asian countries such as China and Korea, was driven by the fact that they had developed small scale value addition in houses at villages level.
“We are planning to copy the Chinese Tao Bao villages model under which 4000 villages have been recognized as Tao Bao vilalges,” he said while explaining, “The concept of this model is that when 50 percent of the households of a particular village enter value addition business then that village is declared as a Tao Boa village and is linked with the market through e-commerce”.
He said in this regard, recently he also held a meeting with a Chinese delegation to seek further information about the model.
He informed that under this model, China had produced at least two million new job opportunities in those 4000 villages.
“So the concept is that in Pakistan also why every value addition clusters should be in the vicinity of big cities, why do not we plan to support this plan at village level,” he added.
With respect to current value addition situation in Pakistan, he lamented that in the country mostly raw material is exported which is nothing but wastage of the resources.
“A major portion of our fruits and vegetables are exported to the low end market because our first level value addition standards are not up to the mark,” he said adding, “if we raise the standard of processing of fruits and other agriculture commodities, our products could also be a source of great attraction for high end markets such as Japan, Europe, and USA”.
He said if the country’s product is sold at US $ four in the low end market, the same could be sold at as high as US $ 10 in the high end markets.
Similarly he said Pakistan was rich in high value herbs and rather than exporting raw herbs, oil of such herbs could be exported as only a few kgs of such oils would earn millions of dollars.
Likewise he said the PARC was also planning to utilize bio technology laboratories through which dozens of varieties of non GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) bio technology could be produced of which there was a huge demand across the world.
To a question with respect to value addition initiatives in the country, Dr Azeem said there were already some development in Pakistan such as pack houses in citrus and mango areas, and date processing zones in Sindh.
However, he said these were only first level value addition processes which was called only a basic value addition.
“If we want to earn more foreign exchange reserves, we have to move forward to next levels of the value addition.”
Further he said, “we have to realign our research institutions to ensure that value addition models at village level are successful”.
Dr Azeem said the B and C grade fruits could also be converted to pulp and fruit candies and technology for this process was also very easy with very small amount of investment.
He said the Prime Minister’s ultimate vision was to eradicate poverty by creating maximum job opportunities, and these value addition models could be helpful in this regard.