Islamabad – Denmark is looking to identify opportunities for cooperation between Pakistani and Danish businesses in the sectors of agriculture, farming and dairy.
To achieve this objective, the Danish Embassy has invited two agriculture consultants from Denmark for a week-long tour of Pakistan, the Ambassador of Denmark to Pakistan Jesper Moller Sorensen told The Express Tribune.
Sorensen said the two experts will help improve Denmark’s understanding of Pakistan’s vast agriculture industry and hopefully suggest steps to establish bilateral business and research linkages.
The Scandinavian country is an global agriculture powerhouse, especially in the dairy sector. According to some estimates, Denmark’s dairy industry produces so much milk that two-thirds of it gets exported after accounting for local consumption of its 5.6 million citizens.
Agriculture’s importance in Pakistan’s economic growth is no secret, either. But the country’s agri-businesses have long suffered from technological and value-addition weaknesses that need to resolved to achieve full potential.
The two-member Danish delegation consists of Henry Jorgensen and Werner Kofoed Nielsen, both from the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture, a Danish company that supplies professional knowledge on agriculture.
The experts will meet Pakistan’s agri-business community and will visit research institutions in Islamabad, Faisalabad, Lahore and Karachi, said Aslam Perwaiz, the embassy’s commercial adviser.
The delegation kicked-off its tour from Islamabad on Monday, with visits to agriculture research centres in the capital. Later, they interacted with business community from the twin cities at a dinner reception hosted by the Danish ambassador at his residence.
Nielsen, who is a dairy and agriculture consultant, said they will present a set of recommendations to the embassy at the end of the visit.
The recommendations will most likely highlight areas of interest in agriculture in Pakistan and identify companies and institutions in Denmark that might be interested to work in those areas, he said.
Jorgensen, who has expertise in the business side of agriculture, said growth in the agricultural domain should be market-driven. Any changes made to facilitate growth should follow from some sort of financial analysis which indicates that those changes will benefit the farmers, he said.
He also voiced support for incentives to improve product quality.
“I think the best way of achieving development in the agriculture sector is to set up requirements for production and then pay farmers something extra if they are fulfilling these requirements,” Jorgensen said.
Pakistani businessmen, who attended the reception, said there is potential in Pakistan’s agricultural industry for improvement. But they stressed the need for investments in agricultural infrastructure and for the government to support farmers, who might be struggling due to financial losses.
They did, however, welcome any technological and technical support from Danish firms to help enhance quality and efficiency of domestic products and processes.
With a recent decision to focus more on trade and commercial affairs, Sorensen said the Danish embassy opened its first-ever commercial section in Pakistan in December 2013.
That move has now led the embassy to reach out to businesses both in Pakistan and Denmark, he said. The real challenge, the Danish envoy admitted, is to convince Danish companies to do business with Pakistan.
Some companies from Denmark have, however, already shown interest in working in Pakistan in areas of energy and energy efficiency, Sorensen said.
In the big picture, better bilateral trade relations can also lead to socioeconomic conditions favourable for the people of Pakistan, he said.
“We think that increasing our bilateral trust on the trade side doing more commercial activities is very much linked with policy objectives we have with Pakistan, which is to create opportunities for every single citizen, to create jobs and growth and ultimately poverty reduction,” the Ambassador said.