Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Chili farming boost country's agri sector

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A pilot project of chili farming spreading over 100 acres is completed while another 3,000 acres of land would be brought under chili cultivation that would ensure enhance production in the country.

"Pilot project of Chili Farm with 100 acres is completed,” the Chairman of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, announced in his tweet, adding that in the next phase, as many as 3000 acres of land would be brought under chili cultivation. 

He said that in this regard a Pak-China Condiment alliance had been formed with the Chinese partners CMEC and Sichuan Litong Food Group. 

The project, under CPEC, would help enhance yield, improve seed quality, skill development, farm labour, and processing as well as boost export of choices. The chili farming project is expected to produce more than 8,000 tons of dried chilies with a net income of more than 100,000 rupees per acre for local farmers.

Monday, June 21, 2021

China’s big market present huge opportunity for Pakistani cherry

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
China is a big market of Pakistani Cherry that is grown in abundance at the foothills of the Himalayas and Karakoram mountain ranges in Pakistan's northern Gilgit-Baltistan region. 

Nourished by fresh glacial water, and ripened by golden sunbeams coupled with the gentle breeze that whirls around the lap of the world's highest peaks, experts believe that the cherries will help improve the lives of local people if they can reach foreign markets, including China, according to reports appearing in the Chinese print media on June 21. 

Cherries are grown on over 2,500 hectares of land in Pakistan, with Gilgit-Baltistan and the southwestern Balochistan province being the two major cherry producing areas, as per data. The country's total cherry yield in 2016 was over 6,000 metric tons. However, Pakistan is not currently as competitive in terms of cherry production and processing compared to some countries. The situation can be improved if farmers are given proper guidance, knowledge and technology to compete the international market.

Pakistani cherry at present is mostly exported the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because local farmers do not know the process and procedures for properly registering their products for international export. 

Due to that lack of knowledge, it is hard for them to get the necessary certifications to have an access to high-end foreign trading hubs. 

Zulfiqar Ali Ghazi, 47, grows cherries in Gilgit and exports his fruit to the UAE. Ghazi, who had been associated with the cherry production and distribution business for nearly two is of the view that there are currently 19 varieties of cherries grown in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, and only a few of them are suitable for export. 

The government has provided many cherry plants to farmers this year to enhance production of the fruit in the area and to support local people, he says, adding that it is the right time to focus on growing the varieties for which there is a demand internationally. "Pakistani cherries have huge potential, but the sector needs urgent attention and support to make its mark in new overseas markets," he said.

“Pakistan's cherry production is small, so it is mostly focusing on China, which is a big consumer market for cherries,” Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam, was quoted as saying. He added that the cooperation between the two countries in agriculture under the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will also encourage Chinese investors to invest in the country. 

"Many Chinese have shown interest in investing in Pakistan and if they invest in cherry growing areas in the form of corporate farming, value addition and food processing, it will not only benefit the investors, but will also be a win-win situation for locals too," he reckoned. 

Cherry prices remain high in China, and once Pakistani cherries enter that country, it will provide a bigger profit margin that will enable local farmers to increase planting, the minister explained. 

“The value of fruits can grow after drying, juicing or making preserves and jelly. The Chinese are experts in food processing and their support in the form of joint ventures with local traders, and in corporate farming will help greatly improve the lives of local people,” Yasar Saleem Khan, a provincial team manager at the Pakistan office of the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, recognized.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

China sends astronauts to space station

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
China launched its seventh manned space mission on June 17 to deploy three astronauts to the core module of the nation's permanent space station, according to a project leader. 

Ji Qiming, assistant to the director of the China Manned Space Agency, told reporters at a pre-launch news conference on at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwestern China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region that the crew on board the Shenzhou XII spacecraft, Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, will be lifted atop a Long March 2F carrier rocket at the launch complex and will become the first occupants of the core module after their spacecraft docks with the module, which is traveling in a low-Earth orbit hundreds of kilometers above the ground. 

According to Chinese media, during their three-month stay inside the module, named Tianhe, or Harmony of Heavens, the all-male crew is tasked with testing and verifying plans, technologies and equipment for crucial elements in space station's construction and operation, such as astronauts' long-term mission arrangements, life-support system, in-orbit resupply, extravehicular activity as well as spacecraft maintenance and repair.

China withdraws passport renewal fee

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

In order to facilitate the people in general and for the benefit of applicants in particular, China has withdrawn the renewal fee from passport. 

According to Chinese Embassy in Pakistan for ordinary passport renewal fee was no longer being charged from June 10.

The Chinese passport currently provides visa-free access to 75 destinations. The Chinese passport holders have visa-free access and visas on arrival to countries such as Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine. The Chinese nationals require a visa to enter about 154 destinations in the world. Some of the destinations where a prior visa is required are the United States, the European Union, Russia and Japan.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

CEO Railways calls for frequent track and rolling stock inspections

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Chief Executive Officer of the Pakistan Railways, Nisar Ahmad Memon, has pointed out that the frequency of train incidents could be drastically curtailed through frequent inspection of tracks and the rolling stock. 
 "Though diligent and periodic inspections from the lowest to the highest level of FGIR, besides beefed up fieldwork at diesel sheds and tracks by officers and staff is most imperative to ward off major and minor accidents,” he observed while chairing a meeting of officials of Karachi Railways Division at the DS Office, housed at City Station, Karachi. 

He figured out that recurrence of untoward railway accidents has grossly tarnished the railways image and called for dedicated efforts at all levels. 

He added that performance of officers and officials had linear relationship with the perception of railways and everyone was required to contribute towards image building of the department through consistent performance. 

Nisar Memon further pointed towards safety aspect as top priority of Railways and made it clear that there can be no compromise in this prime objective involving safety of precious human lives. 

The Divisional Superintendent Railways Karachi, Muhammad Hanif Gul endorsing the remarks of the CEO, stated that people travelling via railways reposed their trust with the department and it was their prime responsibility to provide them a safe and secure journey. 

Senior divisional officials put forth various issues before the CEO which were resolved on the spot. The CEO directed few officers from headquarters also for taking remedial measures where ever required in Karachi division immediately so that better transport facility is ensured for travelling public.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Dignitaries, diplomats praise Barrister Sarah’s paintings

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Barrister Sarah Asim Khan was praised for her creativity and artistic talents during her recently organized solo painting exhibition at the Arts Council of Pakistan (ACP), the hub of cultural activities in Karachi. 

The event was attended by diplomats and dignitaries from Oman, Britain, Sri Lanka, Italy, Japan and Afghanistan. Mohammed Al Mabsali from the Consulate of the Sultanate of Oman opened the exhibition and took a detailed briefing on the paintings by the artist. Hamood Al Nahdi from Consulate of Oman also actively participated in viewing the paintings. 

The closing ceremony of the exhibition was graced by Mian Raza Rabbani, a former Chairman of the Senate, and Ahmed Shah, President, ACP. It was also visited by representatives of quite a few prestigious organizations and professional institutions. 

Mike Nithavrianakis, British Deputy High Commissioner in Karachi, elaborated on the Arthurian Celtic Legend portrayed in the painting. Enrico Alfonso Ricciardi from the Consulate of Italy in Karachi, remarked on the Italian cultural depiction in the paintings while Ashida Katsunori (Noori) from  Consulate of Japan in Karachi gave his impressions on the painting showing twin Koi fish in white and green colours. 

G L Gnanatheva from the Consulate of Sri Lanka in Karachi, and Shahin Parshahri from the Consulate of Afghanistan in Karachi, amongst other dignitaries, penned their encouraging impressions in the guest book, supporting the cause to promote the message of peace and friendship between Pakistan and the world through the art. 

The attendance of large number of guests, including diplomats and dignitaries, was itself a testimonial of success for the exhibition. Most of the visitors were observed taking keen interest in the paintings and they came up with appreciative remarks on the novel theme of promoting the soft image of Pakistan through the art. 

Barrister Sarah is the pioneer of Cultural Diplomacy and International Mythological Art in Pakistan. Her exhibition displayed paintings pertaining to 23 countries and abstract wild animals. The exhibition highlighted wildlife conservation and the message of peace to promote friendship and trade between Pakistan and the world. 

A lawyer by profession with varied experience in the UK and Pakistan, she has had diverse extracurricular interests in art, wildlife, hiking, travelling and social work. She attained her entire legal education at the University of London, including Bachelor of Laws, Master in Corporate and Commercial Laws from Queen Mary College and a qualification in Intellectual Property Law and Policy from the London School of Economics & Political Science. 

Upon being called to the Bar at the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, she underwent Pupillage with a Chamber of Queen’s Counsel at King’s Bench Walk, London, and acclaimed eligibility to practice as a Barrister in the UK. 

She remains active in the legal fraternity and was the Programme Host and Master of Ceremony of 4th National Judicial Conference at Karachi. Inspiration for arts made her a self-taught artist, patronizing conservation of wildlife, harmonizing world cultures and heritage and with it promoting the soft-image of Pakistan to the world. 

Enthused by socializing with people from different countries, cultures and walks of life, her art talent has been recognized as unique and creative in blending mythologies and national symbolism of countries in art. 

As a former President of Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan, Barrister Sarah earned the Outstanding Services to the Cause of Rotary Award a couple of times apart from winning the District Support Rotary Award during 2018-2020. Besides pursuing a career in law, she is a regular columnist on subjects relating to wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Asim Murtaza nominated for COVID-19 Hero Awards

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
In recognition of his services, Asim Murtaza Khan, President, Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan, has been nominated for the COVID-19 Hero Awards, instituted by Rotary International’s Zone 1-B. 

Past District Governors of Rotary International, Jahangir Moghul (Pakistan) and Sam Showket Hossain (Bangladesh), sharing top slots in the Zonal Public Image committee, had set May 29 as the deadline for submission of the awards. 

Asim Murtaza Khan, one of the most respected names in the oil and gas industry of Pakistan, has been nominated for the award for having led the club proactively throughout the ongoing tenure and his focus on generating activities on a regular basis to assist the victims of COVID-19 has earned goodwill for the club as well as Rotary. 

Rotary Club of Karachi Darakshan has been in the forefront in carrying out activities to alleviate pains of its victims besides creating awareness to curtail spreading of this deadly disease. 

They had organized a seminar on the subject of COVID-19’s impact on libraries with collaboration of Library Promotion Bureau last September while in the following months the club continued holding ration distribution events in the affected areas of COVID-19, strictly following the SOPs. When the second and third waves of the pandemic rocked Pakistan and outside movement was restricted, the club decided to reach out the COVID-19 victims at their doorstep.