CPEC will accelerate Pakistan’s upgrading of its agriculture and food industry

LAHORE, 26 October – Zhang Jishu, a Chinese pepper technician who is currently instructing Pakistani staff members on how to grow pepper seedlings in a greenhouse in preparation for transplanting them into the fields next month, explained that the main step in raising seedlings is to distribute the seeds evenly on the seedling bed, spray water to make the seeds stick to the soil, cover them with plastic film, and then build a small arch shed to increase temperature and humidity.

An expert from Sichuan Litong Food Co., Ltd. is Zhang. He told that during the 2022–2023 growing season, the business would establish a 1,000-acre pepper cultivation demonstration garden in Multan. It plans to take over 15,000 acres of pepper orders in South Punjab in collaboration with regional agribusinesses and Pakistani farmers, with a projected harvest of 30,000 tonnes of dried pepper. The business is presently working on finding locations for the two pepper processing plants it hopes to construct in Lahore and Multan.

Litong finished cultivar selection, trial planting, experimental planting, and small-scale planting in 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively. The company’s initiative entered the first round of agricultural projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor last month (CPEC).

In China, pepper is a staple vegetable and condiment with a long industrial supply chain, many processed goods, and a high added value. Bulk crops like peppers and broad beans are in high demand in China. Poor seed quality, a lack of modern farming methods, low yields, and a shortage of experienced agricultural workers are a few of the main issues preventing Pakistan’s agriculture from developing.

Litong is giving local farmers technology and training to help them harvest high-quality peppers. In order to create talent with both agricultural knowledge and management skills, it has collaborated with Pakistani colleges and universities. It has also hired local professional managers and top-tier technical talent. To establish demonstration bases for industry-university-research projects in China, it collaborates with Sichuan Agricultural University and other organizations.

The “chips” of agriculture are seeds. According to Litong Chairman Chen Changwei, the company will work with Pakistan’s top agricultural enterprises to carry out a range of technology research, production, industrial development research, technical training, the establishment of an R&D and testing platform, marketing, and human resources platform, and fully exploit the leading role of agricultural technology under CPEC. Litong will also bring China’s cutting-edge breeding technology to Pakistan next year.

According to Chen, there is a sizable demand on the international market, excellent complementarity between Pakistan and China in the food industry, and promising futures for food processing.

Pakistan must immediately address its current lack of foreign cash reserves through exports. Chen stated that “it is predicted that by 2026, the trade volume of agricultural food processing products would reach USD 3 billion per year” through the means of “industrial integration,” Sichuan Litong will trade with other nations.