Biotechnology is now one of the fastest growing areas of bio-sciences. Huge sums have been spent by the Planning Commission of Pakistan for developing infrastructure, capacity building and HRD for undertaking R&D in biotechnology especially related to agriculture and health in various universities and R&D institutes. Presently, there are around 30 centers of Biotechnology spread all over the country. However, nearly all the Biotech Centers are in the public sector; only a few institutions could offer some deliverable products. Much of these achievements are in the area of agricultural biotechnology such as tissue culture technology and its commercialization (virus free potato and banana, exotic orchards, cut flowers, bio-fertilizers etc.). Significant among these are the development of cotton being one of the most important cash crops for Pakistan. This crop consumes nearly 80% of the pesticide. Therefore pest resistance is one of the most desirable traits in cotton. In 2010 some varieties of Bi-Cotton were released for commercial cultivation. Some of these varieties were developed by private sector seed companies. Furthermore, efforts continue on R&D for developing and maintaining Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) resistant cotton varieties. However, work on several approaches involving other crops, vegetables and fruits are underway. In the area of health most efforts focused on estimation of prevalence, their somatic and genetic nature and type of mutations besides diagnostics of some human diseases. Success has also been achieved in addressing biotechnology application for fossil fuel alternates and several selected useful enzymes.
Pakistan’s latitudinal spread and altitudinal variation provide diverse ecology and splendid biodiversity to the country with human livelihoods directly dependent on ecosystem diversity and function. The diversified habitats and landscapes support a rich variety of different species which contribute to the overall biodiversity of the country. Economically, the services provided by biodiversity cannot be replicated at scale by human technology therefore; it is the most valuable and most necessary natural resource for Pakistan providing means of livelihood especially to rural dwellers. However, rapid human population growth, un-judicious land use and increased poverty has forced especially the rural people to exploit biodiversity at unsustainable rates resulting into deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, salinity and water logging to the remaining biodiversity of the country mainly due to overexploitation and loss of natural habitats of diverse natural flora and fauna. This continued loss of biodiversity will have serious implications for the nation’s natural and agricultural ecosystems threatening food, health and survival security of the country.
Poultry sector is one of the most vibrant and performing sub-sector of the livestock industry in the country. The current investment in Poultry Industry is more than Rs. 700 billion. This industry is progressing at an impressive growth rate of 8 percent per annum over the last few years. Pakistan has become the 11th largest poultry producer in the world with the production of 1,163 million broilers birds annually. This sector provides employment (direct/indirect) to over 1.5 million people. Poultry today has been a balancing force to keep a check on the prices of mutton and beef. Poultry meat contributes 35 percent (1,657 thousand tons) of the total meat production (4,708 thousand tons) in the country. Poultry meat production showed a growth rate of 9.1 percent whereas egg production showed a growth of 5.6 percent to 20.0 billion Nos. during 2019-20 as compared to previous year. The transformation of poultry production in the controlled shed system is making a tremendous difference of quantity and quality of poultry production. There are now over 6,500 controlled environment poultry sheds in the country which indicates that the poultry sector is moving in the direction of modernization and using advanced technology. Currently poultry products especially its fresh meat and eggs are being sold at a higher price (poultry meat Rs. 300-350 per kg), whereas eggs are being offered in the market at Rs. 150-200 per dozen. These prices are higher than average during the current and the previous year.
Chemical Industry of Pakistan
In Pakistan, almost every economic sector has faced considerable impact due to the low supply and demand. The situation further exacerbated with the countrywide lockdown and the bar on international imports and exports. The chemical sector was severely affected with the outbreak of COVID-19. Two of the largest chemical industries-Lotte Chemical and Engro Polymer and Chemical- revised their expected earnings of the year 2020. The chemical industries are facing lower sale volume as the demand of their products has significantly curtailed. In early 2020, the Engro Polymer and Chemical Limited reported a drop-in profit for the year 2019 from Rs 3.7 billion to Rs 4.9 billion recorded the previous year. The financial analysts have predicted that the yearly income of the chemical companies can remain unchanged in the year 2021, as the growth will be at a slower pace due to the world-wide economic crisis. The chemical industry faces challenges in importing raw material from the foreign countries required to produce their products. The manufacturing of the chemicals has thus slowed down, and it has an adverse impact on the other economic sectors that are relying on supply from the chemical industry, for instance the textile industry. Since 2018, Pakistan’s chemical sector has been importing 31% organic chemicals and 28% miscellaneous chemical products from the neighboring states. Pakistan Chemicals and Dyes Merchants Association (PCDMA) Chairman Amin Yousaf Balagamwala said that the commercial importers are facing acute financial crisis because a lockdown has been imposed, therefore not the supply and demand decreased but the factories in many areas have closed down. This economic sector will not be able to recover immediately, even after the normalization of the economic situation throughout the world, because the whole supply chain has been distorted. The traders and commercial importers seek help from the government because their businesses are at the very verge of collapse. If the situation continues, there will be eventually cash flow problems, affecting the other economic sectors. Recently PCDMA has also suggested the government to set up a separate chemical ministry for development of the chemical industry, as it would not only add value to other industrial sectors but reduce the dependency of importing raw products from the neighboring countries and Middle East. This would allow the government to save huge sums of money by setting up import substitute industries within the country. Relying on imports of raw material puts burden on the foreign exchange of the country. The chemical industry sector has not been given adequate attention to develop and diversify over the time. Therefore, its production and revenue have remained stagnant for a decade.
Pakistan’s Cotton Quandary
For the past few years, the economic experts were predicting the low quality of cotton yield in Pakistan, which was likely to affect the textile industry. The contamination rate of crops in Pakistan is seven times higher than the international standards. The major reason that Pakistan is yielding low quality of cotton crop, that is eventually affecting the textile production, are the outdated and unproductive picking methods. The old methods of cotton picking are dangerous because human picking and storage of cotton in fertilizer bags further exacerbates the contamination issue. This later results in production of low-quality cotton and mixing of plastic fibers with the cotton. Another reason why Pakistan’s cotton industry has shown a very sluggish progress is almost insignificant research in the department of enhancing the seed quality. The other economies of the world have made momentous research on genetically modified seeds that enables them to improve the cotton output quality. Although few farmers in Pakistan have tried to use the genetically modified seeds for cotton, called Bi generation, the usage has been counter-productive. The primary reason for this failure is the lack of applicative study which has averted the farmers from reaping the benefits of these seeds. The textile industry of Pakistan is heavily dependent on the input of cotton. From the last decade, Pakistan has gradually moved away from a self-sufficient cotton industry to having a highly import oriented cotton industry. Cotton industry has a great significance for the economy of Pakistan, but it requires due attention from the authorities, as the entire textile value chain is suffering due to low quantity and quality of the cotton. Reforms are necessary in this regard if the country needs to ensure a sustaining textile trade. The inefficiencies on the part of authorities are costing the country billions of dollars, which is an unfeasible situation for the country’s economic progress. Cotton is a sector that for years has single-handedly supported the exports of the country. Prioritizing it has become critical, especially for the post-pandemic economic situation, as in the near future the global textile is to become more competitive. Producers from countries like India, Bangladesh and Vietnam are expected to engage in a tough competition and will attempt to dominate the monopoly of cotton and textile trade in the international market. There is also an urgent need to standardize the seed industry of the country. The lack in this area has wreaked havoc on the cotton producers due to the decreasing demand of the cotton from local and international cotton traders. Cotton is a main input for the country’s export sector and therefore, if proper attention is given and measures are taken, it can contribute to the overall GDP of Pakistan.
A country is totally dependent on its economy, and economic growth is dependent on its Industrial Condition. The industry act as an engine for any economy. Pakistan is one of the largest contributors of jute to the world, but to the country’s misery, it does not possess a single jute mill. Even today, the sector is heavily dependent upon textile, with other key industries of agro and chemical-based. Textile industry the single largest export earning sector of Pakistan and has scaled up productions in the pandemic of Covid-19 with the level of full-capacity, as a significant improvement in the pandemic the country led the world buyers to partially divert their orders to domestic manufacturers as the imports were canceled or delayed by other countries.
Now the Government of Pakistan introduced Textile policy 2020-2025 providing subsidies for the industrial sector, especially for textiles. The policy includes:
- Special duty-drawback rates
- Rationalization of duty on the textile value chain
- Subsidy on long-term loans and development subsidies
- Electricity and gas tariff will be fixed for the next five years till 2025
Pakistan’s share is 1.6 percent in the global textile trade targeted for 3 percent over the next five years. Pakistan textile industry is now focusing on Man-Made Fiber (MMF) that is less costly & can be produced more. Globally the use of Man-made and synthetic fibers against natural fibers has shifted to a ratio of 70:30 the synthetic fibers having the main share. At present, Pakistan’s consumption ratio of MMF to cotton is 30:70 and now with the support of the Government of Pakistan, this ratio will be increased to 50:50 within the next 5 years.