ISLAMABAD — The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which has been facing opposition in Pakistan, is set to expand the area of chili farming in the upcoming sowing season to over 5,000 acres.
“After successful pilot project at 100 acres [impressive results], next phase of chili farming will be ready for launch with upcoming sowing,” tweeted Asim Saleem Bajwa, Lieutenant General, authority chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“Could expand to 5,000 acres spread over different regions.”
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a collection of infrastructure projects that are under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. Originally valued at $47 billion, the value of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects was worth $62 billion as of 2020.
Pakistan is amongst the top ten chili-producing nations that enjoy a combination of warm, humid, yet dry weather and a well-drained sandy loam with rich organic content.
In Pakistan, Sindh province is the major producer of chili, followed by Punjab and Balochistan.
The major constraints in production faced by chili farmers here are lack of a modern irrigation system, imbalanced use of fertilizer and pesticide, and lack of training.
“In Pakistan, old methods of the 1970s, 1960s, or 1980s are adopted by farmers,” said Zahid Gishkori, a correspondent based in Pakistan. “Now Pakistan has to adopt modern technology to increase its production.”
What is worse, growers are troubled by marketing issues, including unreasonable commission agent charges, improper weighing, price fluctuations, and lack of proper storage facilities. Pepper growers are unable to make a proper profit from chili due to marketing channel barriers.
Taking hold of the situation, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor had launched a pilot project of chili farming on 100 acres.
Chen Changwei, chairman of Sichuan Litong Food Group, China, noted that their pilot chili farm project successfully completed 100 acres of plantation in the first half of 2021 in Lahore, the second-largest city in Pakistan, and the capital of the province of Punjab.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is conducting contract farming with Pakistani farmers. Pakistani farmers undertake to supply agreed quantities of chili based on the quality standards and delivery requirements of China Machinery Engineering Corporation (Chinese partners).
In return, China Machinery Engineering Corporation agrees to buy the chili at a price that is nailed down in advance.
Moreover, China did not import any chili or chili products from Pakistan in 2020. For the past five years, China has only imported limited processed chili products from Pakistan worth $4,099 in 2018-2019.
Also, the exported chili from Pakistan to China is benefiting the Chinese the most as compared to Pakistani farmers.
When searched on JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce giant, the results of Pakistani chili is as same as the red chili powder exported from Pakistan costs RMB 33.6 ($5.19) to buy one in China, which is twice the original price in Pakistan.
(With inputs from ANI)
(Edited by Amrita Das and Ritaban Misra)
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