Promising path of Pakistan-China agricultural cooperation
Editor's Note: The writer is Founder, Friends of BRI Forum and Advisor to Pakistan Research Center, Hebei Normal University, China. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
The alliance between Pakistan and China in the field of agriculture has emerged as a powerful force driving economic growth, sustainable development, and food security in both nations. The strategic collaboration between these two neighboring countries, under the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has witnessed significant advancements in recent years, transforming the agricultural landscape of Pakistan. Through joint initiatives, technological exchanges, and investment in key sectors, the bilateral partnership has not only addressed Pakistan's domestic agricultural challenges but has also paved the way for future prosperity and self-sufficiency.
The agricultural cooperation between Pakistan and China has witnessed remarkable developments, particularly in the cultivation of high-value crops and the introduction of advanced farming technologies. The collaboration between Chinese and Pakistani companies in producing Chinese hybrid canola and edible oil has significantly reduced Pakistan's dependence on imported cooking oil, meeting the country's domestic demand while bolstering its foreign exchange reserves. The success of chili cultivation in South Punjab, Sindh and other provinces has opened new avenues for export to China, with substantial growth in agricultural exports expected in the coming years.
The establishment of the CPEC-Agriculture Cooperation Centre (ACC) and the signing of agreements between educational institutions for agricultural training programs further demonstrate the commitment of both nations to fostering long-term cooperation in the agricultural sector. With the establishment of the China-Pakistan Green Corridor (CPGC) under CPEC, the focus on agricultural environment and food security has taken center stage. The utilization of advanced agricultural technologies, such as maize-soybean strip intercropping, has demonstrated economic benefits by increasing crop yields and improving resource efficiency.
The agricultural cooperation between Pakistan and China has yielded remarkable results. In 2022 alone, Pakistan's agricultural sector experienced a commendable growth rate of 4.4%, surpassing both the set target of 3.5% and the previous year's growth of 3.48%. This achievement is a testament to the effectiveness of the initiatives implemented under CPEC and the Green Corridor in particular.
The surge in agricultural exports to China reflects a staggering year-on-year increase. With expectations of agricultural exports surpassing a record high in 2023, it is evident that the agricultural cooperation between these two nations has bolstered trade relations and presented new opportunities for Pakistan to establish itself as a key player in the global agricultural market.
In addition to the impressive growth rates and increased agricultural exports, there are other significant numbers that underscore the impact of the agricultural cooperation between Pakistan and China. One noteworthy aspect is the cultivation of dried chilli, which has witnessed substantial progress. This not only signifies the expansion of chilli cultivation in Pakistan but also highlights the potential for exporting this sought-after commodity to China. The successful implementation of the maize-soybean strip intercropping technology at 65 demonstration sites in Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has yielded impressive results.
The intercropped fields have achieved maize and soybean production of 8,490 kg and 889 kg per hectare, respectively, surpassing the yields of solely cropped maize and soybeans. This innovative technique demonstrates the effectiveness of knowledge and technology transfer from China to Pakistan, resulting in increased productivity and economic benefits for farmers. Many agro-based innovative Chinese companies involved in production and support for bee farming, honey production, sorghum, sesame and peanuts in various regions of Pakistan has made substantial contribution in diversifying these corps and their production.
The ongoing efforts to strengthen ties reflect a long-term commitment to advancing agricultural practices, technology transfer, and market access. As the collaboration deepens, it is essential to prioritize sustainable farming practices, resource management, and the adoption of modern technologies to ensure long-term productivity and environmental conservation. By fostering innovation, knowledge exchange, and market diversification, the agricultural sector in Pakistan is poised to become a driver of economic growth, food security, and rural development, while further cementing the bilateral ties between Pakistan and China.