Engineering Horizons



October 15
17:10 2018

By: Syed Muhammad Shifaat Zaidi ,Chairman, FPCCI Standing Committee on Research & Development ,Former President, Pakistan Society of Sugar Technologists


Pakistan is the 6th most populous country in the world. Allah has blessed this country with enormous resources. It is unfortunate that in spite of great resources our per capita income is merely US$ 1500 which ranks @ no.140 in the world. Our trade deficit has almost doubled. Our external debt is hovering around US $ 80 billion. This situation is really alarming. What are the reasons. The reasons are bad planning & wrong priorities. Can we recover ? The answer is yes. We will have to change our priorities. We will have to give top most priority to education, higher education & Research. We are an agricultural country & need research institutes in all the ecological zones in the country to improve our yields significantly. We will have to bring down the cost of inputs & energy. This can reduce our cost of production significantly, revive closed sick industries & make our exports competitive. Increase in exports reduces trade deficit & plays a very vital role in the economic uplift of a country.

Pakistan is ranked 6th most populous country, 25th largest economy in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), 43rd in terms of nominal GDP. Our GDP per capita is merely around US$ 1500 & finds 140th place in the world ranking.  Nature has blessed this country with huge natural and human resources but due to wrong policies, bad planning & inadequate priorities, we could not make any significant progress despite an external debt hovering at   US$ 80 billion which is a great burden on our economy. A good Government is required to maintain excellent law & order, visible justice & must provide good environment to private sector & investors for doing business. Good investment policies result in boosting industry & agriculture & employment opportunities in the private sector. Our GDP stands at US$ 300 billion; while trade deficit has almost doubled.  Agriculture sector provides employment to 42 percent of labor force and 20 percent in GDP. At present, we are working on short term policies not on long term plans. Our economic growth is slowly improving and expected to be around 5.2 percent. Our CPI inflation is reducing while fiscal deficit has come down to 3.7 percent of GDP. At present, we are worried on external sector because of rising trade deficit, decline in foreign investment, remittances and foreign exchange reserves. We need to give priority to external sector for improving our financial position. It is unfortunate that we gave least priority to education, even lesser to higher education & there was very little room for research which badly affected our development. We have very few research institutes. These institutes can perform if necessary funds are provided to them. We need Research institutes in all the ecological zones of the country to obtain required results.

There are issues related to food security. Investment is necessary on small farmers and food diversification. We are working for better economy of Pakistan but our domestic market is facing problems regarding food security. Pakistan is a highly insecure country in this respect. In Sindh, food insecurity is 70 %, in Baluchistan 64% and in Punjab it is 40%. I don’t about KPK.  However, I am sure average of the country would definitely be over 50 %. We must ponder over it.

 From structural point of view, we can divide whole economy into two segments, out of market based activities and market based activities. Trade is market based economy, government can get benefits in return through tax from trade if economy has a good trading system. Government has a responsibility to facilitate the trade system. It’s necessary that government and private sector both work jointly on same page to promote trade. There should be increased coordination with each other to ensure that trade sector must flourish. This can help to transform the country into a large economy in the world and overcome all the threats. Industrial sectors should increase coordination with academia and promote Research which is necessary for trade benefit & development. Private and public sectors should coordinate with each other and provide opportunities and encourage students to work on research and development. In the absence of adequate financial resources, Industry, academia & Research institutes can work together to resolve various issues & enhance competitiveness. Research oriented Universities should come forward for industrialization.

Very high cost of energy is badly affecting our cost of production. We have failed to obtain benefit of our natural resources. Only River Indus system can generate 40,000 M.W. power (twice that of our requirement) at a very low cost. This can bring down our cost of production significantly & make us competitive. Besides water logging & salinity there are many other reasons for low agricultural yields viz utilization of substandard seed which is the major reason of low productivity. I have learnt that an act is under approval regarding standardization of seeds, which is a good omen. Moreover, very high cost of inputs & paucity of water also makes the issues difficult. Good agricultural practices, fertilizer and water related issues should be addressed properly. Technological advancement does not reach the common farmers. Industries and farmers have big gap. Moreover, Farmers are unaware about mechanized farming and we are still using old system of plantation in Pakistan. Pakistan also needs value addition of products for trading. Proper coordination between industry academia and researchers are required for controlling the under economy losses.

I have learnt about the launching of certification incentive program by PCSIR for the Genetically Modified Food. Ministry of Science and Technology has also recently launched a program for the certification of exporters.  We need to work for the success of this program. We need to promote trainings & refresher courses. We must arrange awareness sessions for farmers as most of them have no or very little education & have no access to information.

We do not have compilation mechanism and need goal oriented research projects. Moreover, liaison between Public and private sector is also required but the question is how to interact. We don’t have systematic data available. We will have to decide, how to tackle the issues and then we can resolve various problems.

For the economic and agricultural growth we can promote bio fuel, bio fertilizers. New varieties of edible oil crops & Cotton can be cultivated in our country at a larger scale. With the growth of sugarcane, edible oil & Cotton crops export competition ratio will increase which can lead to economic growth and also buildup new bilateral relations in global markets.

We must explore value addition to its fullest potential. There are so many opportunities of vegetable exports. Moreover, we can increase exports of dry fruit, dates and organic food. Pakistan needs to develop its organic food standards. There is a huge potential available in the northern areas which needs to be explored. We should coordinate with the experts of agriculture and textile. There are a number of success stories in agriculture. We can produce high staple cotton in Baluchistan. We need investment in agriculture sector for sustainability”.

At this stage, we need to do two things. First to identify the subjects which need to support our exports and secondly we need to encourage youth for self employment turned job provider. Our entrepreneurship skills need support & encouragement.  In China and Korea appreciation of ideas helped in development of SMEs.

I would repeat that Pakistan is an agricultural country with huge production of maize, potato, wheat, sugar cane & rice etc. Our rice crop is facing issues of pesticides, contamination, water pollution that is why our consignments are rejected at international level. We need to work in the export oriented projects. Punjab government has allocated Rs. 1 billion for research and development. I hope other provinces will also follow this gesture.

Pakistan is a signatory to the WTO and fulfilling of the conditions of SPS are mandatory, we need to improve compliance for the enhancement in exports. In this respect, National safety policy is required in accordance with international standards.

Let us learn from our past mistakes. Bangladesh does not produce a single bale of cotton. It imports cotton & after value addition exports the finished goods. The exports of this country are worth US$ 36 billion almost twice that of Pakistan. Our export proceeds are falling & that of Bangladesh are increasing. What are we doing after producing millions of cotton bales? Our Ginners have the capacity to handle 20 million bales.

Sir, this country has a great potential & resources. We need to learn from our past mistakes & plan carefully for the future, for a better future. We will have to increase our competitiveness. We will have to focus on quality education, higher education & promote research, We will have    to     adopt       GOOD AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES ( GAP) & GOOD MANUFATURING PRACTICES


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Engineering Horizons

Engineering Horizons

“Engineering Horizons” is the first & leading technical magazine of Pakistan covering Process, Mechanical, Metallurgical, Mining, Electrical & Electronics field under a single cover. We also feel pleasure in saying that this is the only magazine of its own kind & style, which is widely circulated in all Engineering Sectors of Pakistan.

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