Kazakhstan is interested in importing rice directly from Pakistan, said the Central Asian republic Ambassador Yerzhan Kistafin.
In a meeting with Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Friday, the Kazakhstan envoy said that his country was buying the commodity from Russia.
He pointed out that Kazakhstan was hosting a trade summit exclusively for Pakistan in Almaty in May 2022 to give Pakistani companies an opportunity to showcase their products before the Kazakh business community.
“Over 60 Pakistani companies from various sectors of the economy will participate in the exhibition,” he said, adding that the firms specialising in agricultural machinery, agricultural products, sports goods, surgical instruments, handicrafts and confectionery would display their products.
He expressed keen interest in enhancing bilateral ties with Pakistan and recalled that during the 10th session of Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation between Kazakhstan and Pakistan, both nations agreed to increase the turnover of agricultural products. The meeting took place in November 2021.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam emphasised that Pakistan was producing surplus rice and potato, which could be exported to Kazakhstan.
“Pakistan looks forward to strengthening its relationship with Kazakhstan and taking it to the next level,” he remarked. “Although Pakistan’s trade with Kazakhstan is the highest among all Central Asian countries, it is still below the true potential.”
Imam highlighted that Pakistan and Kazakhstan needed to take advantage of the opportunities at hand and ensure maximum cooperation. He was of the view that deepening bilateral cooperation could benefit both sides immensely.
The two dignitaries discussed the memorandum of understanding signed between the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research on cooperation in the field of agriculture.
Imam stressed the need for enhancing cooperation in livestock breeding and plant cultivation, trade in agricultural products, quarantine and plant protection, veterinary medicines and agricultural research.
“Collaboration in scientific research can prove to be the cornerstone in trade relations between the two countries,” he said. “Pakistan’s food security faces a number of challenges but with the right policy interventions, the agriculture sector can be transformed.”
Local agriculture has been depending on the traditional farming techniques but it is time that the country begins to look at the future and goes for modernisation, the minister said.
Both sides agreed to hold an online meeting in April 2022 between the officials of the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to further enhance cooperation.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2022.