Lahore, May 26, 2016 – In light of the Punjab’s growing agri-business ties with the Netherlands, the Embassy of the Netherlands and Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT) jointly organised a trade event in Lahore today.
Nine visiting Dutch companies in the agri-space met with agri-food companies based in Punjab to explore possibilities for collaboration, joint ventures and knowledge cooperation. The main focus for this event was on dairy and seeds, two fields within which trade with the Netherlands has grown considerably in recent years.
Dr Farrukh Javed, Punjab Minister for Agriculture, said in his opening remarks: “Many Dutch companies are already contributing to the Pakistani economy. Since the Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural produce in the world, there is a great scope for further collaboration between our two countries in this sector – specifically with regards to dairy farming in terms of the establishment of milk processing plants.”
Mr. René van Hell, Director for International Enterprise at the Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Head of the Trade Mission, participated in the closing ceremony of this agri-trade event together with the Chief Executive Offier, Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT), Ms. Amena Cheema. Ms. Amena welcomed Mr. Van Hell and all the visiting companies with garlands; Mr Van Hell then gave Ms. Amena a colourful Dutch garland in return.
Mr Van Hell is excited about the new momentum in agri-business: “We are both nations with very strong traditions in agriculture – specifically in dairy and arable farming. And the Netherlands has a lot to offer to Pakistan. The Netherlands has developed unmatched agricultural solutions when it comes to dairy, horticulture, post-harvest and irrigation.” He also emphasised the developmental importance of modernising agriculture for Pakistani society at large: “Dutch expertise, livestock and equipment can help Pakistani farmers meet the crucial challenge of food security for the next generation. Let’s work together to make this happen.”
Ms. Amena Cheema, started her closing remarks with the announcement that two agreements had been signed in the B2B meetings held during the conference. The first was between Minha Farms and Pro Farm for setting up a Joint Venture in establishment of Milk Processing and Yogurt Processing Plant on Multan Road. The second pertained to importing of cattle by Minha Farms from Firma Dekker.
Ms. Amena also said “A large part of the country’s foreign exchange originates from agriculture, in which Punjab has a reasonable share. Livestock contributes 11.8% to Pakistan’s GDP and 55% to the overall agriculture sector. Punjab is home to almost 40-43% of the livestock population.” She continued: “The Punjab government has placed the rural economy central to its policy and implementation. The government is led by a vision to transform the agriculture sector into a science-based, vibrant and internationally linked sector that can not only meet food security challenges, but also compete in regional and international markets”, she added.
After the event, the Dutch companies attended a seminar on opportunities in agriculture hosted by the University for Veterinary and Animal Sciences. Subsequently the delegation from the Netherlands was received for high tea by H.E. Mr Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab.
Trade ties between the Netherlands and Pakistan have grown by 20% in the past two years, with the total trade volume expected to exceed USD 1 billion for the first time this year. Agri-food is an important part of these commercial relations, especially in the agricultural province of Punjab. In 2014, the trade in Dutch dairy cattle resumed, leading to the import of thousands of world-class Dutch heifers. Furthermore, more than 15,000 tonnes of seed potatoes are imported annually from the Netherlands. In turn, Pakistan exports basmati rice, mangoes and citrus to the Netherlands, with the port of Rotterdam as a logistical hub for all of Europe. Pakistani businesses are also investing in Dutch solutions when it comes to (drip) irrigation, post-harvest and horticulture. In recent years, several Dutch-Pakistani joint ventures emerged in the field of agri-food, and more are being prepared.
For further information, please contact:
Punjab Board of Investment and Trade
Tel: 042 9920 5201-06
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Tel: 051 200 4444