Agribusiness is a precursor to economic revolution
The friendship between Pakistan and China has not only proved to be trustworthy in every difficult time but also its new dimensions are emerging. While CPEC is an extraordinary economic project and hearts are getting closer after its inauguration, its agricultural sector has a fundamental importance in Pakistan's economy.
Since the consolidation of CPEC, there have been tremendous opportunities for trade in agricultural commodities between Pakistan and China. Last year, an MoU on onion trade was signed between Pakistan and China to make such a possibility a reality. The MoU was signed between Pakistan's Department of Plant Protection and China's General Administration of Customs China. Through this MoU, it was decided that the Department of Plant Protection would conduct a world-class pest control survey during the onion production season, which would enable Pakistan to supply world-class onions to China.
It is hoped that Pakistan will not be negligent in this regard as the season for onions has just begun. Talks between the two countries on this MoU had been going on since January 2019. In this regard, the departments of the two countries jointly conducted the pest risk analysis, after which they sat together for mutual discussions on technical issues. With all these activities in mind, it is clear that the two countries are not only serious about onion exports, but also the possibility of opening more doors in agriculture.
This will meet the food needs of China and will significantly increase agribusiness in Pakistan. Because there is no doubt that China has a very large market while Pakistan has fertile agricultural land. At present in Pakistan, it is expected that Pakistani agricultural products like rice, mango and cherry are available in the Chinese market. At the same time, dairy products can be exported from Pakistan to China on a large scale. If we look at each other, we will see that clearly the two countries have done much better in terms of trade in the agricultural sector and these activities are already increasing which will further increase as a result of these measures. Trade in agricultural products between the two countries was increased by 70% from US$ 490 million in 2011 to more than US$ 830 million in 2019.
The bilateral trade is likely to grow even more because the protocol of the second phase of the free trade agreement and both sides are gradually bringing tariffs on 75% of products to zero tariffs. As a result of these initiatives, it is hoped that large-scale export of onions from Pakistan to China will not be only a golden dream, but it will be converted to reality. And it is also important for my beloved country Pakistan because 40% of the total land area in our country is under cultivation and this is a very fertile area. Pakistan's current annual onion production is 1.8 million tons. Pakistan is the sixth largest onion grower in the world in terms of area and the ninth-largest in terms of production.
If we have the opportunity to take full advantage of China's agricultural research in this regard, then our crops can perform to produce more agricultural products. At present, China is providing these facilities to Pakistan in the fields of agricultural diseases prevention, chilli, potatoes, beef and mutton production. For this reason, it is hoped that when cooperation in this field increases, it will also help alleviate poverty in Pakistan in an extraordinary way. The rural areas of Pakistan, in particular, will benefit greatly from this as it will create favourable conditions for creating new jobs and achieving the goal of food security in Pakistan as well.