ISLAMABAD-Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) will introduce about 200 national brands of different food products in local market in order to promote value addition of agriculture products as well as reducing domestic reliance on imported food stuff, besides ensuring provision of cost effective consumables to a common man in the country.

The initiative is also aiming at to reduce poverty in the rural areas of the country by enhancing farm income with value addition of agriculture products being produce in these areas and create maximum livelihood opportunities to overcome rapidly urbanization issues, said Director General PARC Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan.

While talking to APP he said that PARC in collaboration with the private sector embarked upon a holistic plan for transforming conventional agriculture into value added agriculture to reduce import of food items that consume about $1.5 to $2 billion of the country’s foreign exchange reserves annually.

“The other objective of the initiative was to encourage a large bulge of educated and semi-skilled youth in agri-sector by providing them basic training and facilities for value addition of agriculture products to start their own business for a respectable livelihood,” he added.

All the modalities of branding and labelling have been finalised, he said adding that in this regard an ISO certified laboratory is being establishing at National Agriculture Research Centre that would help to produce food items of international standards and attract the consumers.

He further informed that PARC had already introduced 30 brands of local food products that included olive oil, honey, rice, wheat flour, tea, spices and yogurt that was completely nutrient filled, hygienic and cost effective as compared with the open market.

The fish and yogurt processing plant has been established in NARC, he said adding that it was also providing training for interested entrepreneurs to establish their own business and install own plants to produce these things and sell them in open market.

In order to promote agriculture and livestock sectors in rural areas of the country, he said that PARC had also established its four new research stations in different ecologies that would start functioning by the end of this year to help promoting the agriculture and livestock sectors in the far flung areas of the country.

Dr Azeem said that government was focusing on increased productivity of major crops and would spend Rs395 billion on 13 different agriculture sector development projects that would be completed in collaboration with provincial governments.

These research stations had established in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, erstwhile Federally Administrated Tribal Areas and Gilgit Baltistan to provide innovative agriculture solution and livestock farming to alleviate poverty from these areas.

He said these research stations were established at Zhob, Wana, Waziristan and Khuzdar that would help untapping the existing potential of agriculture of these areas and bringing more area under different crop production.

The chairman said that about 100,000 hectares of land would be brought under olive cultivation by 2023, adding that 4 million hectares of land was already identified for olive cultivation.

He said that about one million olive plants would be provided for million tree tsunami project, adding that canola had also been cultivated over thousands of hectares to reduce import bill of edible oil