Pakistan has potential to overcome its trade-deficit through proper exploitation of its agriculture sector. Since, Pakistan is an agrarian country and does not possess High Tech Industries, the government should focus on the agricultural products and make certain arrangements for their exports. These resources must not be exported in the raw form, but after certain value addition to earn more foreign exchange. Pakistan needs to become a hub for the agricultural products in the world like cheese, meat, butter, dates, milk, oats, cotton and so on.
Some Agricultural products are given below that can be used to overcome trade-deficit of Pakistan after certain value additions.
Firstly, Pakistan is the 5th largest producer of cotton in the world. It produces an average 10 million bales of cotton each year. One bale contains 480 pounds of cotton. Alarmingly, the total textile export of Pakistan is around $ 10 billion. The production of one shirt and trouser combined consumes approximately two pounds of cotton. If Pakistan produces nothing, but one shirt and trouser and sell it for $25 in international market, it could earn $60 billion in export earning each year.
Besides, the cotton production of Pakistan can be doubled from 10 million bales to 20 million by adopting intensive farming technologies and improved seeds. At present, an average cotton production of Pakistan per acre is approximately 1400kg against China’s around 3500kg. Moreover, China’s total cotton production is about 35 million bales in comparative to Pakistan’s 10 million. However, Beijing’s total textile export is around $120 billion while Pakistan’s stand at only $10 billion. Thus, our country needs to pay a grave attention to this sector to improve export.
Secondly, Pakistan is the top meat producing countries among the Muslim nations. It is the 11th largest poultry producer in the world with 1.02 billion broilers production annually. Overall, it is the 9th largest producer of meat in the world. It has immense potential to become a leading player in the export of halal meat products. At present, the volume of Halal food trade is more than $ 3 trillion and Pakistan’s share is only 0.25 percent. More alarming, the top exporters of Halal food are non-Muslim countries like the US, Brazil, France, India and so on. According to an estimation, Pakistan can earn $6 billion foreign exchange annually by exporting halal meat. However, it only exported meat and meat preparations worth $242.799 million in the fiscal year 2019. It is the only sector where Pakistan can compete with its global partners to boost its export.
Besides, Pakistan has a huge potential in fresh water fish farming, which is, presently, among the most neglected sector. The environment of Pakistan is suitable for it and can meet the increasing demand of fish fillets all around the globe. Pakistan, particularly, Sindh province is a home to some large nature lakes like Manchar, Kenjhar and Hamal. Manchar Lake is the largest natural lake of Asia. There was a time when these lakes produced tons of fish daily. However, owing to the mismanagement by the government sector, they have turned barren. Normally, 1000kg fish is produced from one acre of land in a traditional method. The area of Manchar Lake is 350 square kilometer. Pakistan can produce 86450 tons of fish annually from this lake alone. Apart from this, there are many swamps that can be converted into private fish farms. Moreover, the new biofloc fish farming technology enables farmers to produce 1000kg fish from 4m radius of circular tank with 4 ft. height. The demand for the fillets of Tilapia fish is increasing day by day in the world. It is the fast growing fish and can be produced in Pakistan in a large quantity. A processing industry to make fillets from the fish and an arrangement to export it is needed from the government’s side to reap the maximum benefits from this sector. No study has been carried out presently about how much foreign exchange Pakistan can earn from the fresh water fish export, but if the news methods are introduced in the farming like in broiler chicken, Pakistan can earn a good amount of money and can improve the lifestyle of people involved in this sector.
Thirdly, Pakistan is the 4th largest producer of milk in the world with an estimated 57 billion litres of milk produced per annum. Pakistan can increase the milk production five times of the current figure by adopting proper farming method. At present, the average milk yield of the cow and buffalo is 14 and10 liters per day respectively. It is still 5-6 times less than the developed world. Total milk production of India, the world largest producing country, was 187 million metric tons against Pakistan’s 48 million metric tons in fiscal year 2019. According to the studies, Pakistan can increase its production 5-6 times the current figure.
In order to earn foreign exchange, it is imperative to increase the milk production as per the standard of developed countries. Afterwards, the traditional method of selling the milk in the raw form must be altered to meet the demand of international market. Presently, around 97 per cent milk is sold in the raw form in Pakistan. Dairy processing industries must be established to produce by products from milk for export. For example, whey protein is produced from milk, which is widely used by bodybuilders. 1kg of whey protein costs around Rs 14000 pkr. Pakistan can produce whey protein in the powder form and can export it to the developed countries. Similarly, cheese, butter, cream and the most important, the low fat milk, which is in high demand in the Western countries, can be produced for export purposes. Thus, milk industry has a potential to boost the foreign earning of Pakistan.
Finally, Pakistan is the 7th largest producer of dates in the world. Total dates production of Pakistan is around 600,000 tons per year. Demands for dates increase during the holy month of Ramadan in all over the world among Muslims. They, in particularly, living in the developed countries, face problem in purchasing good quality dates at cheaper rates. As a result, they end up purchasing the fruit from other online platforms like Amazon at the higher rates.
But, exporting the dates in the traditional way and raw form do not provide solution. Pakistan should act in accordance with the fast changing face of global trade. Now, trade has become digitalized. Instead of selling in bulk quantity at cheaper rate, the country must pack the dates in small beautiful boxes of different weight and advertise them before the world for marketing using trade applications. For this purpose, Pakistan requires a platform like Amazon.com or Aliexpress to sell the fruit. It could also create its own platform. However, there is no international online payment system in Pakistan like Paypal, which will act as the stumbling block in giving the practical shape to this trade. The country needs solve this issue first.
If Pakistan sells a box of dates weighing 500 gram at $2, it would be reasonable price for the developed countries and would boost the demand of the fruit. The dates would then earn around $2.4 billion in foreign exchange. For this purpose, Pakistan must improve its postal services because all the products would then be shipped through its postal services.
Hence, the only way for Pakistan to boost its export and overcome its trade-deficit is to focus on its agricultural sector. It needs to introduce technologies in the sector to increase its yield first. Afterwards, it requires altering its traditional method of selling the products in the raw form. They must be sold after certain value additions. Our country cannot compete with the US or China in the innovations and industrializations. These countries are advance in the technology and create no room for the other countries to capture their market. Thus, Pakistan should focus on its agricultural sector.