LAHORE - A number of Italian companies belonging to agriculture sector are ready to initiate join ventures with their Pakistani counterparts as both the countries have a lot in common in terms of productions especially in areas of horticulture, fisheries, floriculture, food processing and diary. This was stated by Mr. Raffelo Delchima, head of Italian delegation, while speaking at Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Wednesday. LCCI Vice President Faisal Iqbal Sheikh, Executive Committee members Mian Zahid Javaid and Dr. Shahid Raza also spoke on the occasion. Mr. Raffelo Delechima said that Italian businessmen were very much interested in doing business in the province of Punjab that has marvellous opportunities in agriculture sector. He said that Pakistani agriculturists could increase their agri-production with the help of Italian technology guidance and expertise. He said that a better collaboration between the two countries would be highly beneficial for all the pasties involved, ensuring better profits and opening of new markets for goods and products. Strengthening of agriculture sector would have a very long lasing impact on the local economy, he added. Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI Vice President Faisal Iqbal Sheikh said hat Pakistans agriculture sector was in dire need of collaboration with international companies for agriculture technologies. He said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry would play its role for bringing the agriculture communities of the two countries closer. The LCCI Vice President said that Pakistan had a comparative advantage in the region with vast areas of cultivable and a strong potential for expansion of agriculture base. He said that collaboration between Pakistan and Italy would go a long way in mitigating the issues being faced by the farming community of Pakistan. He said that the Agriculture sector continues to play a central role in Pakistans economy. It is the second largest sector, accounting for over 21 percent of GDP, and remains by far the largest employer, absorbing 45percent of the countrys total labour force. Nearly 62 percent of the countrys population resides in rural areas, and is directly or indirectly linked with agriculture for its livelihood. The Agriculture sectors strong linkages with the rest of the economy are not fully captured in the statistics. While on the one hand, the sector is a primary supplier of raw materials to downstream industry, contributing substantially to Pakistans exports, on the other, it is a large market for industrial products such as fertilizer, pesticides, tractors and agricultural implements. Faisal Iqbal Sheikh said hat despite its critical importance to growth, exports, incomes, and food security, the Agriculture sector has been suffering from secular decline. Growth in the sector, particularly in the crop subsector, has been falling for the past three decades. He said productivity remains low, with yield gaps rising. Critical investments in new seeds, farming, technology and techniques, and the water infrastructure are not being made therefore, there is a dire need of collaboration between agriculture sectors of the two countries.