Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA) has urged for restructuring of Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company aimed at facilitating the sector.
In a letter sent by PFVA Chairman Waheed Ahmed to Federal Minister of Commerce Engr Khurram Dastgir Khan, the Association said horticulture exports of the country could be increased to one billion dollar in the next two years and six billion dollars in 10 years if a comprehensive national horticulture development strategy was developed in consultation with stakeholders and an enabling environment was provided.
According to letter, the company dormant is causing a waste of considerable administrative budget without any professional output. Therefore, PHDEC should be revitalised and strengthened expeditiously as announced in the Trade Policy 2015-18, besides appointment of a full time CEO for effective functioning of the PHDEC, it demanded.
PFVA has recommended that PHDEC should develop a horticulture policy/strategy in collaboration with federal, provincial institutions and PFVA, which is well familiar with ground realities, trends in International markets, demand & supply and issues affecting export.
“As PHDEC is a federal body with the mandate to develop the horticulture in the country and all the four provinces have distinct exportable horticulture produce, therefore, the Head Office of PHDEC should be in the capital with field offices in the provincial capitals and production clusters,” it added.
In addition, the PHDEC should liaise closely with other agencies/organisations including ANF, Customs, DPP, Airlines, Shipping Companies, Logistics, Airports, Sea ports, Commercial Counsellors, donor agencies and CAA.
According to letter, the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board (PHDEB) was created in August 2002 through an Executive Order and mandated with the development of horticulture with focus on export. The Board was converted into a Section-42 Company in 2009.
Conceptually, the Board/Company had to act as a bridge between production and marketing thereby facilitating market-led production and export of horticulture commodities.
Last year, the Ministry reconstituting the Board of Directors (BoD) comprises a group of motivated stakeholders and the board done some commendable work by cleaning the organisation of political appointees.
However, during the last meeting of the BoD, it was learnt that the delay in appointment of Chairman is probably due to Commerce Minister’s reservations about the future of the Company as after the 18th amendment, the Company’s role in development of horticulture sector has been devolved. In addition the Company does not have a regular source of funding and therefore is not sustainable entity.
Waheed said in letter that it was true that the some services were responsibility of provincial governments. However, PHDEC has a vital role of serving a bridge between production and market by developing market-led production.
For instance, in the absence of an organisation like PHDEC in the recent past, faced with SPS challenges in EU, the strange response by the government was to ban the export (eg mangoes) instead of improving the compliances on ground and assist in demand-led production.
“The misconception that the PHDEC did not deliver at all is certainly not true because even at its stage of infancy, it had commendable achievements to its credit eg development of agri-products like Shimla Mirch and grapes, and capturing some important international markets like South Africa, Iran and China etc. Exploration of lucrative Russian market for export of Pakistani Kinnow is a classic example of its commendable performance when the PHDEC had a professional CEO,” he added.
The government in general and Ministry of Commerce in particular cannot abdicate its role of hand-holding the stakeholders especially for capacity building of agriculture sector exports. The organisations like Smeda, Engineering Development Board, Pakistan Software Export & Development Board and PHDEC itself had been doing commendable job in assisting the stakeholders in collaboration with donors like CBI Netherlands, USAID and AusAid, he said.
Chairman PFVA said the organisational structure evolved into a Company on the grounds that the Company structure more suited the peculiarities of agriculture sector as a government-owned company on the one hand enjoys the strength of “government ownership” and on the other hand enables it to tap into the donor resources which are abundantly available for the agriculture sector. PHDEC’s recent low performance is not attributable to its organisational structure but to the Ministry’s act of appointing a non-professional CEO who perpetrated its nemesis, he added.
“The development and export promotion organisations eg TDAP and Engineering Development Board (EDB) are funded by the government. Therefore, PHDEC must not be discriminated by expecting it to be self supporting and as the horticulture sector, with around $700 million exports has been contributing around Rs 175 million to export development fund,” he mentioned.
Source: Business Recorder