Feature: Pakistan's farmers keen to export their onions to China

(Xinhua) 15:15, March 01, 2022

ISLAMABAD, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Arshad Swati from Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is among the thousands of onion farmers in the Asian country. He dreams of selling his onions overseas to fund a better education for his children.

In particular, he wants his onions to be sold to China.

"Many farmers in Pakistan export their onions and have got rich by doing so. I want to join other producers in my hometown and export our crop to China. It will mean more money for everyone," Swati told Xinhua.

Swati thinks that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is located not very far from China, is well positioned to access China's huge market.

Pakistan is one of the world's largest onion producers. Malaysia, Gulf countries, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are the major overseas destinations of Pakistani onions today. Currently, about 30 percent of Pakistan's fresh produce of onions are wasted due to the lack of storage facilities and substandard practices in packing and transportation.

Pakistan exporting onions to China has not yet begun, but related rules were agreed on in November last year.

Pakistani Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam told Xinhua that agriculture is one of the focuses for cooperation in the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Pakistan's production of many crops, including onions, will improve with the access to Chinese technology and research, he said.

"The Chinese agriculture sector is very modern, and they have a high per acre yield. Pakistan too has a very fertile land with rich potential to produce crops of high export value. We are already producing some very high-quality onions, and our scope can be enhanced in cooperation with China," the minister noted.

Yasar Saleem Khan, a provincial team manager at the Pakistan office of the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) said that the CPEC cooperation with China may "save millions of (U.S.) dollars and increase onion production by millions of tons" for Pakistan.

According to the CABI, no onion processing of any kind currently takes place in Pakistan, even though the technology is very simple. With small investment, excellent export value can be generated.

"Dried onions are in demand in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and the Gulf at large. There is no supply from Pakistan so if we make better use of this potential, it will generate income and create a lot of jobs. Good quality onion seeds from China will greatly improve the crop," Khan told Xinhua.

"The economic corridor is an opportunity for Pakistan to transport all kinds of commodities to international markets. Access to the Chinese market will have a great effect on the lives of our farmers," he added. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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