Tuesday, 30 December 2014

SHC dismisses petition of sugar millers

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by the sugar millers through which they challenged the notification issued by Sindh government fixing sugarcane price at Rs 182 per 40 kilograms. The petitioners, Mirpurkhas Sugar Mills owner and others, approached the court, submitting that they had filed a petition seeking its directions for the federal and provincial governments to devise an effective mechanism for fixation of sugar price and questioned legality of the provision of Sugar Factories Control Act, 1950, that gives the provincial governments powers to unilaterally fix a minimum price of sugarcane.
Copyright Pakistan Press International, 2014

TEVTA chief calls for preparing skilful youth

Technical and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) Chairman Irfan Qaiser Shaikh has said that in order to reduce unemployment in the province of Punjab, youth should become skilful. Job opportunities will surely be available after completion of their vocational training. Present demands, instead of general education, vocational education and training should be prioritised.

It is very important for the youth because technical hands never remain unemployed. Pakistan's industrial and agricultural development also depends on the availability of skilled manpower. Middle and Matric pass boys and girls should be well aware about their future. If we are earning millions of dollars through export of agriculture goods, textiles and trained manpower, the main reason for this is the preparation of skilled people.

He was addressing a meeting to review the progress of demand driven short courses to be offered from 15th January here at TEVTA Secretariat. Chief Operating Officer Jawad Ahmed Qureshi and others were also present on the occasion. Irfan Qaiser Shaikh said the demand driven short duration courses were being started with the consultation of concerned industry. Unemployed youth should get admission in TEVTA Institutes to become skilful. After completion of their training period, they will get jobs immediately. The Government of Punjab has issued special funds to TEVTA despite limited resources during the current fiscal year. It will be useful to introduce new courses, establishment of institutes according to the requirements of the modern era in current ADP schemes, provision of equipment to laboratories and to impart technical & vocational training in employable trades.

The TEVTA Chairman further said under the public private partnership, collaboration with local and international organisations shall contribute in promoting TVET sector across Punjab. In addition, British City and Guilds international courses have also been started in our institutes. In this way, our industry will be provided not only skilled manpower, but also employment opportunities will be available for qualified individuals.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Depressed commodity prices to impact agricultural growth

Everyone is concerned about agricultural growth prospects during 2015. They cite three factors: poverty (as a majority of farmers are unable to invest in crops), the confusion about the federal and provincial governments’ jurisdictions, and climatic changes that make the production cycle uncertain.
The farmers have lost money on almost all major crops — cotton, rice, cane and wheat during 2014; in many cases they were not able to recover even cost of production if official estimated costs are something to go by.
The cost of each maund of cotton was stated to be Rs3,200, which was sold at Rs2,500 per 40Kg; cane cost was Rs194 per maund, but fixed at Rs180; rice prices dropped by almost 50pc as compared to last year, and the federal government had to come up with a subsidy package to save farmers from total disaster.
For cotton growers, the government had to induct the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to support market price to some extent. Under these circumstances, the farmers have precious little to invest on next crops that dims prospects for 2015.

The farming community is caught between falling income and rising cost of inputs and it could define the prospects of agricultural growth during 2015.

The farmers’ ability to invest on inputs has always been a crucial factor, which seems to have been significantly lost. On the other hand, the cost of inputs — barring a temporary relief on diesel — keeps rising for a number of factors; cartelisation of the market and small players greed to reap windfall every season being prime factors.
The urea position clarifies the point. Despite heavy imports, dealers are unwilling to bring prices down to official level and the Punjab government is currently readying to crackdown on urea black-marketing. It had already lodged a number of FIRs for pesticides overcharging.
The farming community is thus caught between falling income and rising cost of inputs and it could define the prospects of agricultural growth during 2015.
This situation is afflicted by another factor; confusing mandates of federal and provincial institutions about which one is supposed to do what. The Eighteenth Amendment’s devolution is still to be absorbed by the provincial governments.
The recent row on cane prices clarifies the point, where the provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh acted differently; causing social upheaval and the federation siding with the farmers. The vacuum in some other areas is even bigger. For example, the federation has a post Animal Husbandry Commissioner (commonly known as chief veterinarian) but it is lying vacant for the last one year.
Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has a post of a member, Animal Science, which has not been filled ever since the last one retired and the chief executive officer of the Federal Livestock Board is missing for the last two years.
This vacuum at the federal level is yet to be institutionally filled by the federating units. On their part, what provinces are doing is best exemplified by Punjab; during the last few years, it has nominated around seven different committees on livestock with grossly overlapping mandate and memberships, creating utter confusion.
Without any institutional input, decision-making is hijacked by lobbies, which has managed to bring cane prices down for a week or so and made billions of rupees out it; they managed duty-free import of skimmed milk and started manufacturing milk at the cost of farmers. This confusion on mechanism, mandate and decision-making, in all probability, would continue during the next year and test agricultural abilities of the farmers and farming.
To top them all is water scarcity, exacerbated by climatic changes and Pakistan’s inability to respond to it through a well thought-out planning and strategy. In a recent report, the State Bank of Pakistan had termed climate change not just a global debate, but a major threat to Pakistan; particularly, when it raises risks for food security.
Estimating that temperature might rise by another 0.6 to one Celsius by 2030, the central bank warned that the change may take down wheat production by 1.5-2.5pc and rice by 2-4pc by 2020. Vegetables and livestock would also have their list of risks.
The University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, which has a full-fledged department on climatology, also sounded a similar warning when dividing the entire 21st century into three periods (up to 2040, 2070 and the rest), it says that the average day temperature would increase by 2.8 Celsius by 2040. Even more threatening is rise in the night temperature by 2.2 Celsius during the same period.
Both these major problems and their solutions or ways fully documented.. In the last four years, the country has had three floods because of erratic weather behaviour and still reeling under its damage. This is the area that needs immediate and full attention of the government.
Published in Dawn, Economic & Business

Antibiotic resistance: the livestock link

AUSTRALIA has exceptionally low levels of antibiotic resistance in people and animals, Professor Peter Collignon told the BeefEx conference, and we need to work harder to keep it that way.
Dr Collignon, an infectious diseases physician associated with the Australian National University, is a vocal campaigner for the necessity of fighting antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics are a “miracle drug”, he told BeefEx, one of the few drugs that actually cures people instead of merely preventing them from succumbing further to an illness.
But resistance is rapidly eroding the effectiveness of antibiotics. Once the current classes of drug become ineffective, there are few options left.

The livestock connection

Dr Collignon thinks that by necessity, campaigning against resistance means campaigning against the overuse of antibiotics in food animals.
Around the world, between 70-80 per cent of all antibiotics used are applied to livestock.
Careful regulation has meant Australia has some of the lowest levels of resistance in the world - for some classes of antibiotic, the lowest levels - even though we have among the highest levels of antibiotic use in the world.
Elsewhere, antibiotic resistance is rising rapidly. In Europe, several countries are contending with more than 50 per cent resistance to the isolates that cause blood stream infections like septicaemia. Even where there are relatively low levels of resistance, as with the Scandanavian countries, resistance rates are still at 5-10 per cent, which is a marked increase from a decade ago.
But Dr Collignon’s worst nightmares lie in developing countries, where a combination of poor regulation and polluted water - water is a major vector for antibiotic-resistant bacteria - are becoming irredeemable.

An untreatable problem

In India, where E. coli is the most common cause of urinary tract infections, “to all intents and purposes, about half those E. coli are untreatable”.

Cotton market: Ginners may raise asking prices amid slow arrivals

Prices maintained upward march on the cotton market on Tuesday amid tight supply of fine quality, dealers added. The official spot rate was higher by Rs 50 to Rs 4,950, they said. In the ready session, around 13,000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 4700-5350, they said.

In Sindh, prices of seed cotton were unchanged at Rs 1900 and Rs 2500, in Punjab prices rose by Rs 100 to Rs 2200 and Rs 2900, they said. Market sources said that phutti arrivals slow due to heavy fog in Punjab. Cotton analyst, Naseem Usman sharing the same views said that with the passage of time prices are likely to gain momentum due to strong buying by mills and spinners. In the meantime, Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) here on Monday assessed cotton crop size for the season 2014-15 at 13.4885 million bales.

Reuters: Cotton futures rose the most in a week on Monday after a US government report showed that export sales hit a marketing-year high in the latest week, with buyers in top consumer China leading the buying spree.

The most-active March cotton contract on ICE Futures US extended gains after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report and closed up 0.38 cent, or 0.6 percent, at 62.01 cents a lb. The strong USDA data helped fibre buck pressure from a weakness throughout commodities markets and a stronger US dollar. The Thomson Reuters Core-Commodity CRB index, a benchmark for global commodities markets, was lower.

The following deals reported: 400 bales from Vehari at Rs 4700, 600 bales from Hasilpur at Rs 4800, 600 bales from Faqirwali at Rs 4950, 1000 bales from Haroonabad at Rs 4950, 800 bales from Fort Abbas at Rs 4950, 600 bales from Ahmedpur at Rs 5000, 400 bales from Multan at Rs 5200, 800 bales from Liaquatpur at Rs 5300, 1000 bales from Mianwali at the same rate, 2000 bales from Khanpur at Rs 5300-5350, same figure from Rahim Yar Khan at the same rate, 1600 bales from Sadiqabad at the same rate and 1000 bales from Alipur at the same rate, they said.

Benefits withheld: Sales tax on petroleum products jacked up by 5%

In clear violation of the Supreme Court orders, the government on Tuesday increased sales tax rate on petroleum products from 17% to 22%, putting a 30% tax burden on consumers. The new rates will be applicable from January 1.
The increase in tax rate will fetch Rs48 billion on an annual basis, while the government has estimated minimum Rs20 billion additional income in next five months, according to a senior official of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
Had the government not increased the tax rate, consumers would have got 50% additional benefits due to the slump in global oil prices this month. The International Monetary Fund(IMF) has asked Pakistan to take additional steps to mitigate the impact of the steep decline in tax collection by the FBR.
The FBR revenues are falling short of the target due to the continuous decline in oil prices, inefficiencies of the tax machinery, politically motivated tax concessions and lax enforcement of the existing laws.
Interestingly, the amount of Rs48 billion is just Rs10 billion higher than the amount the government doled out to various lobbies by using the forum of Economic Coordination of the Cabinet over the last five months alone. It gave Rs38.5 billion in benefits to sugar barons and the agriculture sector.
As against the standard sales tax rate of 17%, the government has set the GST rate of 22% on petrol, HOBC, light diesel oil, high speed diesel oil and kerosene, which is the fuel of the poor and used in a large quantity in the rural areas of the country. This has increased the tax burden on consumers by 29.4%.
To give effect to the controversial decision that may be prone to judicial scrutiny, the FBR notified the increase in sales tax rate. The FBR issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) – a legal instrument used to bring changes in tax rates.
The new petroleum prices will be announced by adjusting the increase in sales tax rate, according to an official of the finance ministry. This would deny consumers the benefits of declining global oil prices. The crude oil prices in the international market settled to five-year low of $57.88 per barrel on Monday.
The Supreme Court has barred the government from increasing burden on taxpayers through executive orders. In the human rights case No 14392, the top court disapproved undue hikes in utilities provided to people and in Iqbal Zafar Jhagra vs federation of Pakistan case declared levying of taxes through executive orders unconstitutional, said Dr Ikramul Haq, a lawyer in the SC and the International Tax Council.
The government, despite these cases which are binding under Article 189 of the Constitution, has been resorting to infamous SROs for levy of taxes, he added. “Amending of tax laws by way of SROs is not serving any useful purpose – this is not a solution to improve tax administration.”
Citing the apex court’s judgments, Dr Haq said taxation through executive orders was unconstitutional in view of Article 77 read with Article 162 of the Constitution.
Published in The Express Tribune

Daily trading report of PMEX 31st Dec 2014

On Monday at Pakistan Mercantile Exchange (PMEX) value traded was PKR 1.164 billion and the number of lots traded was 9,240. PMEX Commodity Index closed at 2,595. Major business was contributed by crude oil amounting to PKR 672 million followed by gold (PKR 469 million) and silver (PKR 23 million).
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

JCR-VIS reaffirms entity ratings of Matco Rice Processing at A-/A-2

JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company Limited (JCR-VIS) has reaffirmed the entity ratings of Pakistan's largest basmati rice exporter, Matco Rice Processing (Pvt) Limited, at "A-/A-2" (Single A-Minus/ A-Two) with stable outlook. Despite being a highly competitive market with numerous international rice brands, rice exports from Pakistan increased by 3.3 percent in FY14 to US 1.9 billion dollars.

Matco was able to capture a larger share of the same as the company's exports increased by 25 percent in FY14. Growth in exports has been achieved due to increased sale of basmati rice which fetched a better price in the international market compared to IRRI.

Sharing his thought on the rating, Chairman Matco Rice, Jawed Ali Ghori said, "This rating is yet another testament of our market leading product quality and reflects upon the trust of our valued customers. Our management has projected increased margins and overall profitability in the long-run and relishes the current entity rating of A-/A-2 by JCR-VIS with an aim to further enhance it in the years to come."

He further added that "Matco Rice is constantly striving to increase the quality of products by applying international standards and strengthening rice procurement procedures.-PR
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

KBP seeks immediate compensation for basmati growers

Kisan Board Pakistan (KBP) has urged the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to ensure immediate implementation on a relief package announced by him to compensate the rice growers at the rate of Rs 5,000 per acres. KBP Central President Sadiq Khan Khakwani made this demand during a meeting of a delegation of Basmati growers here on Tuesday. The growers expressed their reservations over government attitude and non-implementation of the premier's announcement.

KBP Chief demanded that the farmers who suffered losses because of recent floods should be compensated at the earliest. He said that unrest is being found amongst basmati growers due to non-implementation of the package. He said in response to a countrywide protest staged by the rice growers, the Prime Minister had directed the Federal Finance Minister and Minister for Food Security to compensate growers and approved necessary funds. However, KBP Chief regretted, no method has been evolved in this regard which is a question mark on functioning of these departments. He reiterated that the government should take immediate steps to resolve the issues and compensate the loss suffered by Basmati growers.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Monday, 29 December 2014

KP to give free hybrid seed of wheat, 50 percent discount on fertilizer sale

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has announced provision of free hybrid seeds of wheat and sale of fertilizer on 50 percent discount for the farming community on the condition that 50 percent of the produce would be sold to the KP government in order to get rapid food autarky in the province.

"We are working on a crash plan to make the barren lands cultivable and ensure reclamation of maximum area for agricultural purposes," he added.

He was addressing a ceremony at Tarnab Farm in Peshawar after handing over 17 new bulldozers to the Agriculture Department and inaugurating solar tube-well scheme.

The ceremony was also addressed by KP Minister of Agriculture Ikram Ullah Gandapur and Secretary of Agriculture Muhammad Hamayun Khan who besides highlighting the concrete steps of the provincial government for promotion of agriculture and using latest technology also appreciated vision of the chief minister in this regard.

The function besides KP Assembly Speaker Haji Asad Qaiser, provincial ministers Mian Jamshed Uddin Kakakhel, Amjad Afridi, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Zarin Zia, Chairman of standing committee Muhammad Jan, PTI Provincial President Azam Swati and General Secretary Khalid Masood was largely attended by farmers community and other people of the area.

Pervez Khattak said that efforts were underway to increase cultivable land and convert more barren land into fertile fields and orchards as well as agricultural engineering wing of the Agriculture Department would be fully strengthened.

He said funds for purchase of more bulldozers were also being increased in the next year budget. Similarly, he said solar irrigation tube-wells were being promoted to enable the farmers community get rid of load shedding and power tariff hike. He said the G T Road from Attock to Peshawar as well as Ring Road and all other highways were also being converted to solar street lights so that all these roads were brightened all the nights without fear of power failure.

The KP Chief Minister stressed on the authorities of the Agriculture Department for bringing improvement in the performance of the department and introduces new seed, instruments, fertilisers, pesticides and fully includes farmers in their activities. This, he said, would not result in improving the prestige of the department rather the government would extend full encouragement to them.

He said that with the present performance of the department, he was neither satisfied in the capacity of the minister nor as farmer in past as he in the status of minister has failed in getting consultations and technical assistance for orchards and crops to benefit small growers.

Similarly, he said the department has neither established roots among farmers and other stakeholders and nor promoted the modern and scientific agricultural techniques rather the whole rural agricultural community was following the same old and outdated mode of agriculture. However, he said now the time of awakening has arrived and now "we have to change our habits and attitude to serve the people with honesty". He said that they don't need inefficient and corrupt employees any more.

He said that it was welcoming that due to reforms and legislation the process of change in the government departments was in progress. He said that they need 100 per cent results.

The Chief Minister said that the Agriculture Department was facing several challenges as barren and unutilised land in the province was many fold higher than the cultivable land, which he said through the use of modern technology could be turned into fertile land and orchards.

He said that particularly making the province self-sufficient in wheat production was need of the hour. He said that as compare to the demand of 2.5 million tons of wheat the province was producing only 1.2 million ton of wheat and this huge difference in the supply and demand in future could create big problems for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The Chief Minister said the construction of Chashma Right Bank Canal (CRBC) in D I Khan was his top priority. Similarly, he said Rid Kohi in southern districts and better irrigation system in other areas to bring fertile but barren land under cultivation was their targets, which could guarantee agricultural revolution and food security in the KP province.

He said the provincial government was also concentrating on other sectors of agriculture and besides initiating a scheme of Rs500 million in fish farming, fisheries, livestock breeding and dairy farming was being promoted with full attention. On the condition of good results, the department would be provided hefty funds. For this purpose, he said, comprehensive and feasible schemes should be presented.

Talking to media persons on the occasion, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said that protecting bordering areas with Afghanistan and FATA was need of the hour while effective measures were being taken for the security of prisons, schools and sensitive installations.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

PMEX relocates business continuity, disaster recovery site

Pakistan Mercantile Exchange (PMEX), the country's only multi commodity futures exchange, signed an agreement to relocate both its Business Continuity (BC) as well as Disaster Recovery (DR) site to National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited (NCCPL).

Working with a business model that requires round the clock operations across the week, PMEX relentlessly strives to upgrade its systems and processes in order to provide seamless services to market participants. The Exchange has a comprehensive Business Continuity Program which comprises of a resilient IT infrastructure, crisis management and recovery of processes.

Commenting on the occasion, Ejaz Ali Shah, Managing Director, PMEX, said, "Considering the sensitive nature of PMEX business, we fully understand the importance of a robust and resilient BC& DR set-up. Accordingly, this initiative to consolidate BC&DR at one site will provide a durable and flexible structure to resume all critical operations in minimum possible time without compromising on the quality of services in the event of a disaster. Moreover, we intend to keep improving our infrastructure for the benefit of our clients."

Muhammad Lukman, Chief Executive Officer of NCCPL said: "Being the first Pakistani company to certify on the upgraded ISO Information Security Management certification of ISO/IEC 27001:2013, NCCPL has established a state-of-the-art BCP/DR facility which not only serves the organisational needs but is also capable to serve other organisations in this regards. This facility is being used to provide alternate processing site to different capital and financial institutions owing to the expertise and infrastructure developed over the period of time by NCCPL through hard work, dedication and technological excellence."-PR
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Dry & cold weather to continue for three weeks: standing crops may be adversely affected

Dry and cold weather conditions will continue for another three weeks in the country which may have a "very negative impact" on standing crops, according to agriculture and weather experts. Long dry and cold weather system in the country would leave negative impact on wheat, gram, potato and other minor Rabi crops. "The current weather system would badly affect the standing crops, especially in rain-fed areas," said Dr Aslam Gill, Crop Commissioner, Ministry of National Food Security and Research while talking to Business Recorder.

He said that the sowing of wheat was almost completed in the country and wheat crop is presently in boosting stage which requires feed of water to survive. "Serious consequences may develop for wheat crop if the dry spell continues," he warned.

He pointed out that the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) had fixed wheat production at 26 million tons from an area of 8.91million hectares for 2014-15 and gram target of 0.72 million tons from an area of 0.99 million hectares.

Another official of Ministry of National Food Security and Research on condition of anonymity said that if the current dry weather continues, the country would be unable to achieve 26 million ton of wheat target.

"Out of total sowing area of wheat crop, 10 percent is rain-fed in the country" he pointed out, adding the dry weather would mainly affect crop of rain-fed area due to which the country my face shortage of 2.6 million tons.

Dr Ghulam Rasool, chief meteorologist, Meteorological Department (PMD), said that the prolonged dry spell would continue till the first half of January, and the country would face dry, cold and foggy weather.

After third week of January, he said that the situation will start improving as the westerly wave will reach Afghanistan and Pakistan, which will bring snowfall on our mountains in February and rainfall in the agriculture plains of Pakistan and India.

Deputy Director, Forecasting Division of PMD Aleem-ul-Hassan maintained that there was no chance of any significant rain till the end of second week of January.

He said that very cold and dry weather is expected in most parts of the country. However, light rain (with light snowfall on the hills) is expected at isolated places in Malakand divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan in the next 48 hours.

Dense foggy conditions would continue in Gujranwala, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Sahiwal divisions, while fog would be prevalent in Sargodha, D.G.Khan, D I Khan and Sukkur divisions during night and morning hours, he said.

The coldest places during the last 24 hours were Skardu

(-)12.0°C, Astore -9.0°C, Kalat -8.0°C, Hunza, Gilgit (-)7.0°C, Parachinar, Gupis, Quetta (-)6.0°C, Kalam (-)4.0°C, Lower Dir, Dalbandin, Zhob, Dir (-)3.0°C, Malamjabba, Rawalakot, Bannu, Drosh -2.0°C, Chitral, Mirkhani, D I Khan, Murree, Saidu Sharif (-)1.0°C.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Daily trading report of PMEX 30th dec, 2014

On Friday at Pakistan Mercantile Exchange (PMEX) value traded was PKR 1.257 billion as compared to PKR 1.107 billion reported on Wednesday, an increase of 13.55 percent. The number of lots traded was 10,512. There was no trading on Thursday being a public holiday. PMEX Commodity Index increased by 0.49 percent and closed at 2,592.

Major business was contributed by gold amounting to PKR 648 million, it was followed by crude oil (PKR 566 million) and silver (PKR 43 million).
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Punjab PSMA says justified to seek government support

Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Punjab Chairman Javed Kayani has said the sugar industry was justified to ask for support from the government as constant increase in support price of sugarcane by the government every year has resulted in enhanced production of sugarcane.

He said sugar mills were obliged to crush the entire sugarcane crop therefore surplus sugar was not made by choice. Now to make payments to sugarcane growers it is mandatory to sell sugar. Sugar is produced in about four months and sold throughout the year with surplus looming price of sugar remains depressed and forced selling continues in the market to discharge liabilities to growers.

Javed Kayani in a statement issued here on Monday said the government also enforces provision of the Sugarcane Act of 1950 to make payments within 15 days from the date of purchase of sugarcane. This Act though redundant under the present circumstances yet the provision of payment is strictly invoked. Sugar mills make sales which are obviously limited according to monthly consumption of the country therefore they have to resort to borrow from the banks which retain a margin against pledge of sugar.

Therefore, to discharge liabilities to growers, it is imperative to retrieve full value of cost of production. Export parity at the moment is Rs 36 as against cost of producing sugar of Rs 60 per kg @ 180/40kg sugarcane which leaves a deficit of Rs 24 per kg. It is therefore impossible to make payments to sugarcane growers when the industry is not in a position to recover the cost of sugarcane. The Indian government is doling out $64 per ton export rebate on sugar besides giving Rs 660 billion as interest free loans to help and support the sugar industry to make payments to sugarcane growers. It is pertinent to note that cost of production is lower in India compared to Pakistan, Kayani claimed.

The Agriculture Policy Institute of Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Islamabad, strongly suggested to provincial governments not to increase the price of sugarcane this year, as there already exists a surplus produce in the country.

Under the circumstances sugar industry is justified to ask for support from the government when sugarcane prices are fixed unilaterally for political expediency without taking into account the international scenario. The rebate of Rs 8 and inland freight subsidy of Rs 2 will only partially offset the losses. The government has taken this decision in the interest of growers and the industry so that payments to growers can be made through export of sugar for which there is no buyer in the local market besides the initial tranche of 650,000 tons will fetch $300 million in foreign exchange. Disposal of surplus sugar will also stabilise price of sugar in the domestic market, which is currently at Rs 47-48 per kg far from breakeven level of Rs 60 per kg.

The Punjab PSMA Chairman said maligning the industry producing an import substitute of about $2.5 billion, paying taxes to the government in excess of Rs 20 billion and buying sugarcane of Rs 250 billion from growers, was a sinister move and a conspiracy to make Pakistan a dependent consumer state by eliminating the industrial base. "We strongly condemn the malicious campaign and vendetta against the sugar industry," he added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Wheat Yield Competition-2014: Punjab government distributes prizes among winners

Punjab Government has increased budget of agriculture research up to 200 per cent and Punjab's agriculture scientists have achieved a land mark of developing drought tolerant crop verities. This was stated by Dr Farrukh Javed Minister for Agriculture Punjab at Agriculture House Lahore while addressing the winners of Wheat Yield Competition 2014 relating to Punjab and Lahore division. Ali Tahir Secretary Agriculture Punjab and large number of agriculture scientists were also present on the occasion.

Minister for Agriculture highlighted various steps taken by the provincial government for the benefit of farming community. He said that wheat support price has been enhanced up to Rs 1300 per maund and the government has fixed the sugarcane rates at Rs 180 per maund; whereas in Sindh province the rate of sugarcane is Rs 150 per maund. The Minister stressed the need for narrowing gap among progressive and ordinary growers. Progressive growers are obtaining wheat yield up to 80 maunds per acre whereas average yield are 30 maunds per acre he added.

He appreciated efforts of agricultural scientists for increasing agriculture production in Punjab Province and stated that record production of potato and wheat has been obtained whereas cotton production has exceeded 10 million bales. Similarly production of rice has also been increased tremendously.

Secretary Agriculture Punjab Ali Tahir in his welcome address informed that Punjab government has distributed prizes of 130 million rupees among winners of wheat yield competition 2014. He said that the winners have been selected in the most transparent manner. He was of the view that wheat yield competition will encourage farmers to grow more wheat and provide healthy competitive environment.

Director General Agriculture (Ext.) Punjab Dr Anjum Ali speaking on this occasion said that in Punjab province record production of 1.97 million tons of wheat has been obtained. Punjab government has initiated new projects to increase production of vegetables and pulses and under these projects subsidy will be provided to pulses and vegetables growers.

The minister distributed tractors and other prizes among the winners. Allah Buksh son of Muhammad Yar district Khushab got first prize of 85-HP tractor by obtaining 98.78 maunds per acre wheat production. Waseem Abbas district Muzaffargarh obtained second prize of 75 -HP tractor by obtaining 84.21 maunds per acre wheat production. Muhammad Husanain Khalid district Rahim Yar Khan obtained third prize of 75 -HP tractor by obtaining 80.52 maunds per acre wheat production. 542 prizes of different type of farm machinery have been distributed among winners of Wheat Yield Competition 2014 in Punjab province.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Shahbaz issues instructions for new livestock policy

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday issued instructions for formulating livestock policy and said that short, medium and long term measures should be proposed in this regard. He observed national economy can be strengthened through development of livestock and dairy sector.

"There is a need for benefiting from experience and services of experts in private sector for modernising livestock and dairy development sector," CM said while presiding over a high level meeting which reviewed in detail the measures taken for livestock and dairy development as well as improvement of slaughter houses.

The meeting also approved provision of soft term loans to such livestock farmers for compensating their losses while it was decided to handover the existing farms in Cholistan to livestock and dairy development department.

The meeting also gave approval to impose a ban on the purchase of buffaloes and other livestock without DNA test.

While addressing the meeting, the CM said that livestock sector is of vital importance in national economy as development of this sector can result in generation of vast employment opportunities as well as strengthening of the provincial economy.

Shahbaz said that in order to benefit from the vast opportunities in livestock and dairy development sector, a business model of various programmes should be evolved while a practicable model should also be devised for the provision of soft term small loans to the rural youth. He said that all-out measures should be taken for achieving the targets of livestock and dairy development.

He directed that special attention should be paid to research and development and effective measures be taken for this purpose. He said that modern slaughter house in Lahore is not only helping in the supply of hygienic meat to the citizens but exports are also increasing.

The CM said that he will soon pay a visit to the slaughter house. He directed that the crackdown on illegal slaughter houses and the elements selling meat of dead animals should be continued and stern action be taken under the law against those who are playing with the human lives. He said that action should also be taken against the elements involved in the adulteration of the feed of livestock. He said that vaccination campaign to save livestock against various diseases should be continued in an effective manner.

Earlier, Secretary Livestock & Dairy Development gave a detailed briefing on the measures taken for the uplift of livestock sector. Chairman Lahore Solid Waste Management Company Kh Ahmed Hasaan, Member Provincial Assembly Syed Hussain Jahanian Gardezi, Secretary Livestock, progressive farmers Mumtaz Manhais, Aqila Mumtaz, Vice Chancellor University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, President Buffalo Association Saeed Hotiana and concerned officers were also present.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

AVCC, CPLC recover abducted dairy farm owner

Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) and Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) in a joint action recovered an abductee from Steel Town area. According to details, a dairy farm owner Abu-Bakar was kidnapped by unidentified men while he was on the way to Supper Highway on December 22. An FIR of his abduction, (No 179/2014) had been registered in Memon Goth police station. The kidnapper had demanded Rs500 million as ransom for his release.

After receiving complaint from the victim's family, a joint team of AVCC and CPLC initiated probe into the case, and all the technical and ground sources were utilised to trace the culprits. A joint raid was conducted in the area of Steel Town in the early hours of Monday, and Abu-Bakar was released safely in the operation.

No money was paid to kidnappers. Three suspected kidnappers were arrested. The kidnappers were identified as Rajab Ali, Eisa and Soomar. CPLC spokesman said that arms were also recovered from the possession of the kidnappers.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Prices of potato, onion begin to soften up

Price of potato and onion has started softening in retail markets with the improvement in the supplies from upcountry. The prices of potato and onion register a downward trend during the previous fortnight due to arrival of fresh crop from upcountry. The price of potatoes remains high at above Rs 70 per kg in retail for several months and now it was offered at Rs 25 per kg in retail markets.

Likewise onion price register fall from Rs 40 per kg to Rs 16 per kg in last couple of days. Price of tomato also slides down from Rs 80 per kg to Rs 30 per kg. Price of carrot remain at Rs 50 to Rs 60 pr kg, okra Rs 80 to Rs 100 per kg, eggplant Rs 60 per kg, cucumber Rs 70 per kg, peas Rs 70 to Rs 90 per kg, spinach Rs 50 per kg green chilly Rs 20 per 100 gram and garlic Rs 120 per kg, kinnow Rs 60 to Rs 103 per dozen depending on its size and quality, apple Rs 80 to Rs 100 per kg, banana Rs 60 to 80 per dozen, lemon Rs 40 to Rs 80 per kg and pomegranate Rs 200 per kg.

Historically, the price of potato in Pakistan remained in the range of Rs 17 to 25 per kilogram during the month of March-April every year. Over the years, potato has become an important crop for both farmers and consumers in Pakistan. It is the fourth most important crop by volume of production; it is high yielding, having a high nutritive value and gives high returns to farmers.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

Prices of essential food items remain high 28th Dec 14

<br/><a href="http://oi58.tinypic.com/156vki0.jpg" target="_blank">View Raw Image</a>Prices of most of perishable and non-perishable food items remained on high side last week as compared to the preceding week, showed a survey conducted by Business Recorder here on Saturday. During a visit to different markets of the twin cities of Rawalpindi/Islamabad, it was observed that prices of some of the kitchen items, including vegetables, chicken, dry fruits and fresh fruits, increased during the last week.

Traders in different markets told this scribe that due to severe cold in some parts of the country and dry weather have badly affected vegetables and fruits production, resulting into increase in their prices. Further severe cold has increased demand of dry fruits and traders have cashed the opportunity. However, people belonging to different walks of life criticised the government for failing to pass on the impact of reduction in oil and electricity prices to general public. They said that significant reduction was made in oil and electricity prices, but rates of kitchen items remained on high side.

It was also observed that prices of some of the vegetables such as tomato, cauliflower, cucumber, radish and Shimla/Kashmiri chilly increased during the period under review. Tomato was being sold at Rs 120 per kg against Rs 70 per kg, registering a significant increase of Rs 40-50 per kg, cauliflower at Rs 60 per kg against Rs 50 per kg, cucumber at Rs 70 per kg against Rs 60 per kg and Shimla/Kashmiri chilly at Rs 80-100 per kg against Rs 70-80 per during the last week past as compared to the preceding week. However, carrot remained at Rs 80 per kg, onion at Rs 40 per kg, potato at Rs 40-50 per kg, cabbage at Rs 45-50 per kg, brinjal (Baigan) at Rs 43-45 per kg, green peas at Rs 75 per kg, okra at Rs 95-100 per kg and garlic at Rs 160-180 per kg without any significant change in prices during the period under review.

Chicken prices registered an increase of Rs 5-10 per kg in different markets of the twin cities and were being sold at Rs 165-175 per kg. However, price of eggs remained unchanged at Rs 120 per dozen during the last week without any changes in prices. During the period under review, increase in some fruits prices was observed, while others remained unchanged. Apple was available at Rs 100-200 per kg, depending on quality in different markets, banana at Rs 80-100 per dozen, guava at Rs 60-80 per kg, orange/malta at Rs 50-80 per dozen and grapes at Rs 200-250 per kg in different markets during the period under review.

Prices of some kitchen items remained unchanged last week as compared to the preceding week. These include vegetable ghee loose at Rs 165-170 per kg, Moong (washed) at Rs 163 per kg, rice basmati (broken) at Rs 80-90 per kg, sugar at Rs 56-60 per kg, cooking oil tin (2.5 ltr) at Rs 520, vegetable ghee tin (2.5 kg) at Rs 505, milk fresh at Rs 95-100 per liter, curd at Rs 105 per kg, Masoor (washed) at Rs 148 per kg, Mash (washed) at Rs 177-180 per kg, mutton at Rs 600-650 per kg, beef was being sold at Rs 380-420 per kg last week as compared to the preceding week.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

2014 Concludes with Record Investments for Agriculture

In 2014, more than $33 million in state and county Agricultural Development Funds were disbursed in grants and loans throughout the Commonwealth for agricultural investments in our rural communities.

The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, chaired by Gov. Steve Beshear, approved an additional $10,355,386 for 48 agricultural diversification and rural development programs and projects during its December board meeting, totaling more than $43 million for the year.
"Over the past 14 years, every county in Kentucky has benefitted in some way by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund," said Gov. Beshear. "The projects approved today, show the direct impact of the KADF and its widespread reach across the Commonwealth, exemplifying the types of projects and programs that will lead agriculture into the future."

Statewide and regional investments approved included:

Kentucky Proud Marketing Program
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture was approved for a total allocation of $3,490,000 in state funds for 2015 and 2016 to fund the Kentucky Proud Program. Kentucky Proud is Kentucky's official agriculture marketing and promotional program that serves as the brand for Kentucky's agriculture products with more than 3,800 members. For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr9B. For more information about this project, contact Kristen Branscum at (502) 782-4101 or kristen.branscum@ky.gov.
Dairy Industry Education and Marketing Initiative

The Kentucky Dairy Development Council was approved for a total allocation of $2,108,500 in state funds for 2015 and 2016 to continue educating, representing and promoting Kentucky's dairy producers and the dairy industry as a whole. For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr9Y. For more information about this project, contact Maury Cox at (859) 516-1129 or kddc@kydairy.org.
Beef Production and Marketing Programs

The Kentucky Beef Network, LLC was approved for a total allocation of $1,869,016 in state funds for 2015 and 2016 to provide programs to cattle producers that will enhance their net income. For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr8J. For more information about this project, contact Becky Thompson at (859) 278-0899 or bthompson@kycattle.org.
Horticulture Industry Initiatives
The Kentucky Horticulture Council, Inc. was approved for a total allocation of $1,300,000 in state funds for 2015 and 2016 to provide technical support to farmers through on-farm demonstrations, educational programs, cost-share programs, and applied research. For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr9Q. For more information about this project, contact Jeff Hall at (502) 938-1331 or office@kyhorticulture.org.
Regional Farmers Market
Gateway Farmers Market, Inc. was approved for up to $220,000 in state funds and up to $61,500 in county funds to construct a 12,000 square foot regional farmers market and renovate an existing building that will house a commercial kitchen. For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr8m. For more information about this project, contact Amy Milliken at (270) 782-2760 or amy.milliken@ky.gov.
Agricultural Energy Efficiency Investments

The On-Farm Energy Efficiency Program provides incentives for Kentucky farm families to increase energy efficiency within their farming operations. Successful applicants may receive up to 50 percent reimbursement of the actual cost of a qualified energy saving project, up to $10,000. Twenty-nine applicants for On-Farm Energy Efficiency Program incentives were approved totaling $219,885 in Adair (1), Barren (4), Bourbon (1), Calloway (1), Clinton (1), Daviess (3), Grayson (1), Hart (1), Henry (2), LaRue (1), Madison (1), Marion (2), McLean (2), Mercer (1), Ohio (2), Shelby (1), Union (2) and Webster (2) counties.

County investments approved included:

Livestock Pavilion Upgrades in Franklin County
Franklin County Fair and Horse Show was approved for up to $2,100 in Franklin County funds to provide upgrades to its multipurpose livestock pavilions.
For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr89. For more information about this project, contact Jackie Branham at (502) 545-0890.
4-H Ham Curing House in Jessamine County
Jessamine County 4-H Council Inc. was approved for up to $3,000 in Jessamine County funds to build a structure to serve as a curing house for country hams.
For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr8A. For more information about this project, contact Cathy Weaver at (859) 885-4811 or cathy.weaver@uky.edu.
Greenhouse Equipment for Ballard County
Ballard County Board of Education was approved for up to $4,396 in Ballard County funds to purchase equipment and materials for the operation of its existing greenhouse. For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr8T. For more information about this project, contact Robert Wilson at (270) 665-8400 or bob.wilson@ballard.kyschools.us.
4-H Ham Curing House in LaRue County
LaRue County Extension District Board was approved for up to $2,500 in LaRue County funds to build a structure to serve as a curing house for country hams.
For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr9w. For more information about this project, contact Misty Wilmoth at (270) 358-3401 or mwilmoth@uky.edu.
Feasibility Study for Todd County
The Todd County Fiscal Court was approved for up to $30,000 in Todd County funds to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed development of natural gas supply for portions of Todd County. For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/Mr9e. For more information about this project, contact Daryl Greenfield at (270) 265-9966 or tcjudgex@gmail.com.
Jackson County Regional Food Center

Appalachian Alternative Agriculture of Jackson County, Inc. was approved for $21,000 in Jackson County funds to use as operating capital for the Jackson County Regional Food Center. For additional details on this project please view the following webpage: http://go.usa.gov/MrXx. For more information about this project, contact Jeff Henderson at (606) 287-7693 or jcrfc@prtcnet.org.
On-Farm Investments
The County Agricultural Investment Program is designed to provide farmers with incentives to allow them to improve and diversify their current production practices in an effort to increase net farm income. CAIP covers a wide variety of on-farm agricultural enterprises in its 10 investment areas, including production, marketing and value-added processing. Five CAIPs were approved by the board totaling $877,505 for Warren, Boone, Hardin, Fleming and Knox counties. In addition to these new approvals, an additional $124,211 was approved to enhance existing County Agricultural Investment Programs in Mason and Bracken counties.
Shared-Use Equipment
The Shared-Use Equipment Program is designed to benefit a high number of producers who cannot justify ownership expenses associated with certain equipment by helping them access technology necessary to improve their operations in an economical manner. Two Shared-use Equipment Programs were approved by the board for Pulaski County, totaling $21,773.


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