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ISLAMABAD-Pakistan has the potential to reap huge dividends in the oilseeds sector through increased cooperation with China, a senior official said. “Despite ecological diversity, suitable climate and vast fertile land, Pakistan is unfortunately among the lowest edible oil producing countries,” said Dr. Ehsan Ullah Khan, Senior Scientific Officer at the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) while talking to WealthPK.
“Only 30% of Pakistan’s domestic oil needs are met by local production, while the remaining 70% comes through imports. The cost of importing edible oil has exceeded $4 billion annually to meet the pressing demand of its population,” Dr. Ehsan pointed out.
“Given the significant import bill for just one commodity, Pakistan needs a significant increase in local production of edible oil,” the official said.
“To reduce its import bill, Pakistan has started focusing on developing its own oilseed industry,” said Dr. Ehsan.
He said the government has introduced a number of incentives and policies to encourage farmers to grow more oilseeds, and there has also been an increase in private sector investment in the industry. In addition, he said, Pakistan has been exploring opportunities for international cooperation in this area, particularly with China. “China is one of the world’s largest importers of oilseeds and is also a major producer of cooking oils. The country’s well-developed agricultural industry has invested heavily in research and development to improve yields and quality. Therefore, there is great potential for cooperation between China and Pakistan in the oilseeds sector,” he pointed out.
The official noted that agricultural cooperation between China and Pakistan has gained momentum in recent years, with both countries realizing the potential benefits of cooperation in this sector. “One of the areas of focus has been the development of Pakistan’s oilseed industry, which has long been considered an untapped resource with significant growth potential,” he said.
He said the two countries recently launched a joint venture to introduce hybrid rapeseed to Pakistani farmers, which has the potential to revolutionize the country’s agricultural sector.
According to WealthPK research, rapeseeds developed by China have been sown on about 80,000 hectares of land in Pakistan, which will help ease the burden on Pakistan’s strained foreign exchange. The country consumes about 5 million tons of edible oil per year, but farmers do not prefer oilseeds because of their low economic potential. To help the country meet the demand for edible oil and support its foreign exchange reserves, Chinese company Wuhan Qingfa Hesheng and a Pakistani company Evyol Group are jointly providing high-quality hybrid seeds to Pakistani farmers.
The variety takes 10 years to yield and is compatible with climate change. It is a good crop for farmers as a standard 2kg pack is enough to grow two acres, yielding 1.5 tonnes, which is over 10% more than the other varieties currently available.
“Another advantage is that it produces fodder for cattle, which we usually import, and due to the devaluation of the currency, it has become a significant financial burden,” the official said.
“If farmers grow canola as per the instructions of agro-scientists, then they can earn higher yields with lower input costs, which will increase their income and will save a significant amount of foreign exchange,” he added.