Apart from the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), both countries encourage their private business communities to form a business-to-business (B2B) connection with each other, and the chili contract farming project is one example of the cooperation.
by Misbah Saba Malik
ISLAMABAD, July 19 (Xinhua) — Chaudhry Javed, a farmer from Pakpattan district of Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, has high hopes that the financial condition of the farmers in the area will improve after they adopted new technology and sowed good-quality seeds to grow high-end chilies under the directions of the Chinese who are coming to help them.
“Farmers here are very poor and they don’t save much from crops, but they are hopeful that once they sow high-yield varieties of seeds and use sophisticated machinery and modern technology to grow and reap them, they can get bumper crops,” Javed told Xinhua.
Javed’s 10,890 square feet of land is a part of almost 100 acres of land in Punjab province on which a chili contract farming project is being implemented under the cooperation between Chinese and Pakistani companies.
“I got free-of-cost seeds which I sowed as a model for local farmers who got very impressed when they visited my field and when they noticed a huge difference between their crop and mine. They told me how keen they are to sow the Chinese seeds and adopt Chinese techniques of agriculture in the forthcoming season of sowing of chili,” he added.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) cooperation has moved to the second phase, which is focused on industry and agriculture among other sectors.
Apart from the framework of the CPEC, both countries encourage their private business communities to form a business-to-business (B2B) connection with each other, and the chili contract farming project is one example of the cooperation.
Talking to Xinhua, Dai Bao, vice general manager of the China Machinery Engineering Corporation, Pakistan, said that they will cooperate with Pakistani farmers and companies step by step to help uplift the condiment sector and offer benefit to local farmers.
“In the first phase, we are providing seed and technology to farmers and companies and will buy back the whole crop upon its harvest. In the second phase, we will set up a factory for value addition and make the chilies available in the local market, whereas in the third phase we will focus on world markets,” he said.
Dai said that Pakistan has good environment, soil and water and cheap labor whereas China has good seeds and technology.
“We will transfer this technology and seed to Pakistan to improve quality and yield of Pakistani crops.”
He said that Pakistan will get a huge benefit from the project in the future because the country is focusing on increasing its exports, and through this cooperation, Pakistan’s agricultural output will increase and the exports will also enhance after the quality of chili has improved.
Naseer Ullah Khan, technical services manager at Fatima Group, which is also a partner in the chili project, told Xinhua that Chinese want to develop clusters of chilies in Pakistan in the next few years.
“This year model farms have been established to help local farmers observe the process, and in the next phase they will grow it themselves. In the future, many varieties of Chinese chilies will enter the local market,” he added.
Talking about the role of the chili contract farming project in uplifting the poor farmers, Khan said that the main target of the cooperation is to give loan and subsidies on seed and technology to small farmers, enabling them to sow high-end crops. “In this regard we experimented with different crops and came to the conclusion that chili is the best choice which will give good yield and be sold at higher prices.”
He said that they are in the process of developing clusters of chilies in different districts and will set up a processing unit near them where the chilies will be processed, packed and exported not only to China, but to other countries too.
Chili powder is widely used in almost all households in Pakistan, and the spice is used in almost all main courses in local food, but due to shortage of production, chili powder costs more than other spices in markets.
Local officials believe that apart from uplifting small farmers, the enhancement in supply of good-quality chili will help improve the quality of the spice in the local markets too.
Talking to Xinhua, Asad Umar, minister for planning, development and special initiatives, said that agricultural cooperation between the two countries is expanding quickly and local farmers will be able to increase their per-acre yields after technology transfer from China.