‘Asia’s largest nursery’ in Pakistan’s Pattoki awaits government support to bolster Gulf exports

The photo taken on April 8, 2024, shows an ariel view of dozens of nurseries dotting the city of Pattoki city in Pakistan's Punjab province. (AN Photo)
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Updated 10 May 2024
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‘Asia’s largest nursery’ in Pakistan’s Pattoki awaits government support to bolster Gulf exports

  • Agriculture department says no other place worldwide where nurseries sprawl whole city
  • Plant exporters urge government to lift ban on import of seeds and new plant varieties 

Pattoki, PAKISTAN: From a bird’s-eye view, dozens upon dozens of nurseries can be seen dotting the city for several kilometers, featuring colorful flowers, massive trees and decorative plants. Around them, hundreds of workers flit about planting and trimming plants and plucking weed from the ground and out of clay pots. 

This is a scene from Pattoki, a city in the Kasur district of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province, that exporters and government officials say is the largest nursery market in Asia. Spread over a thousand hectares, the market employs around 100,000 people directly or indirectly.

“This [nursery] is spread over ten villages and each village’s population is estimated to be around 10,000 people,” exporter Lala Shaukat told Arab News in Pattoki last week. “This is a profitable business and people are earning well from it, and this [Pattoki] has become Asia’s biggest [nursery] market.”

“Pattoki is indeed Asia’s largest nursery due to its sprawl at a single place, in one city, and this is the biggest market in Pakistan from where the plants and flowers are not only supplied across the country, but also exported to Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Gulf countries,” said Dr. Basharat Saleem, a deputy director at the Punjab general agriculture directorate. 

In Pattoki, an average nursery is spread over ten hectares with 30-40 gardeners taking care of around 350 types of plants and flowers that are sold both locally and exported. 

“Around 350 varieties [of different plants] are available with us [at this nursery], including palm trees and shadow trees,” Bilal Ahmed, a nursery owner, told Arab News. “Then there are fruit plants and flower plants which are available with us in abundance.”

GULF EXPORTS

Exporter Sheraz Ali said Pakistan’s plants and flower exports to Gulf countries had increased since 2018 from around 15 containers yearly to 250 in 2024. 

“In one container, around 10,000-12,000 plants are going [exported] and its value is around 3 million ($10,782) to 3.5 million rupees ($12,578),” Ali told Arab News. “In one acre, an average of 40,000-50,000 plants [are being planted].”

The plant protection department agreed with Ali, saying at least 250 containers were shipped yearly, with the Gulf region being a major destination.

“The exports of our plants and flowers have registered a significant increase in the Gulf region in the last couple of years, and the exporters’ number of 250 shipping containers for this year seems to be true,” said Dr. Khalid Zafar, a deputy director at the plant protection department, who said exact export numbers were not readily available with his department at the moment. 

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the closest destinations to Pakistan where shipments could reach within a week, exporters said. . 

“We have been focusing on roses as per their demand to export them to bring dollars to our market, so that it could play a role in our country’s progress,” Ali added. 

For consignments that have to be exported, plants and flowers are transferred from clay pots to a soilless medium known as cocopeat. This is a necessary step as globally exporting clay from one country to another is banned for fear that soil could transfer viruses and bacteria. 

“First of all, to export to Saudi Arabia, Dubai and all these Arab countries, there should be soilless media as you cannot transfer clay from one country to another because it may contain viruses, bacteria and there is a huge chance of the spread of diseases so you can make it soilless,” Ali explained. 

“So we import cocopeat from Sri Lanka to make it soilless and then use it in plants after taking it through a certain process.”

“GOVERNMENT SUPPORT”

Pakistani traders and growers, however, said despite the nurseries and flower markets being a “billion-dollar industry,” farmers were struggling to grow new varieties of plants and flowers and bag more orders from abroad. 

“Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, it is a huge market for us. I am exporting to only one country, Dubai [UAE], and the quantity to other countries is negligible,” exporter Shaukat, who has been in the business for 30 years, said. “We need the government’s assistance to boost exports. The government should cooperate with us and our exports can witness a huge increase. Unless we are presented as an industry, we cannot increase our exports.”

Shaukat said the government’s decision to ban the import of plants and seedlings to Pakistan had damaged business because growers could not bring in new varieties of plants.

“The world demands new varieties of [plants] as people don’t like the fifty-year-old variety,” Shaukat told Arab News. 

Ahmed, the nursery owner, agreed that government support and incentives were key to the industry’s future growth. 

“This is a billion-dollar industry in Pakistan and there is no focus of the government or any institution on it,” he said as he walked through a row of plants. 

“If there is focus, this billion-dollar industry can earn huge revenue for both the government and farmers.”


Pakistan’s Sindh government teams up with local NGO to provide artificial limb to camel after leg amputation

Updated 25 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Sindh government teams up with local NGO to provide artificial limb to camel after leg amputation

  • A landlord in Sindh’s Sanghar district allegedly chopped off the camel’s leg after it trespassed on his field
  • Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon confirms five people have been arrested for involvement in crime

ISLAMABAD: The government in Pakistan’s Sindh province has been working closely with a local non-government organization (NGO) for the treatment and rehabilitation of a camel, whose leg was chopped off by a local landlord this week, an official of the NGO taking care of the animal said on Sunday.
The development came after local media widely reported that a landlord in Mund Jamrao village in Sindh’s Sanghar district had allegedly chopped off the camel’s leg for trespassing on his field seeking fodder.
The owner of the camel, a poor peasant named Soomar Behan, was contacted by police after the episode went viral on social media, but he refused to file a complaint against the landlord following which police took action.
Five people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the crime, with Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon confirming that a case had been registered against the suspects for amputating the camel on the state’s behalf.
On Saturday, CDRS Benji, a non-profit working for stray and injured animals in Pakistan, provided treatment to the camel at one of its shelters in the provincial capital of Karachi.
“The Sindh government has been working closely with the CDRS Benji project for the treatment and rehabilitation of the camel,” Sarah Jahangir, a CDRS Benji director, told Arab News.
“They [Sindh government] have brought in a team from BIONIKS Pakistan to prepare an artificial limb.”
She said the 8-month-old female camel was in acute pain and everyone was coming together to help the camel because the prosthetic would take time as it needed around two months for the wound to heal before proper measurements could be taken.
“We are trying to heal her infection and soothe her pain with heavy painkillers, antibiotics and other medications,” Jahangir added.
Anas Niaz, cofounder of Pakistan’s BIONIKS biotechnology startup, said his organization was trying to make the limb for the camel.
“We are working on the limb for the camel as right now it needed to heal, which will take around 1-2 months time and after that rehabilitation of the camel will start,” he told Arab News.
“As the camel will need replacement from time to time, this will be an ongoing process that we are actively managing.”
Niaz said all costs for the treatment and rehabilitation of the animal would be covered by donors.
Section 429 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) states that anyone who kills, poisons, maims, or renders useless any animal of the value of ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either a term of up to two years or be fined for the offense, or both.
Sindh Information Minister Memon earlier confirmed the registration of a case against the suspects, describing the amputation as a “humanely unacceptable” act.
“While the police is still doing its work, proper medical treatment is being provided to the poor animal,” Shazia Ata Marri, a Pakistani lawmaker from Sanghar, wrote on X.
CDRS Benji said its staff had cleaned the camel’s wound to make sure it was not infected.
“Cammie the camel is settling into her new home,” the NGO wrote on Facebook with a video showing the camel feeding, a white bandage wrapped around her leg.
“She is in pain, and it was traumatizing for her to be carried into the shelter. But she is eating now and taking in everything around her with those beautiful, intelligent eyes.”


Pakistan PM conveys Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s king, other Muslim rulers

Updated 53 min 52 sec ago
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Pakistan PM conveys Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s king, other Muslim rulers

  • Eid Al-Adha marks Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s command
  • The three-day event is one of the two major Muslim festivals on the Islamic calendar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday conveyed Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and other Muslim rulers.
Several Muslim countries, mainly in the Middle East, marked the three-day Eid Al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, on Sunday, while others will celebrate the occasion on Monday. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as recounted in the Holy Qur’an.
Sharif held a telephonic conversation with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa and exchanged warm greetings on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, according to the Pakistan PM’s office.
“The two leaders expressed their mutual respect and admiration for the strong historical ties between Pakistan and Bahrain, built on shared values and cultural affinities,” it said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister acknowledged and appreciated Bahrain’s support and cooperation in various fields over the years. In particular, he thanked His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for his respect and affection toward Pakistan.”
The three-day festival of Eid Al-Adha is one of the two most important festivals on the Islamic calendar. Muslims celebrate the occasion by slaughtering animals such as cattle and goats and share their meat among family and friends and the poor.
In his telephonic conversation with Tajikistan’s president, Sharif and Emomali Rahmon greeted each other on Eid and expressed their wishes for peace, prosperity, and development of both countries.
“The two leaders also expressed satisfaction at the positive trajectory of bilateral relations and reaffirmed their shared desire to enhance ties in through trade, energy, and connectivity,” Sharif’s office said.
“Both leaders also discussed the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Astana and reiterated their commitment to strengthen mutually beneficial regional integration and cooperation.”
During another phone call, Sharif and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev exchanged Eid wishes and reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations, especially in the domain of trade, defense and energy.
“They expressed satisfaction on the positive trajectory of relations and agreed to continue working closely to further strengthen bilateral ties to match the political goodwill that exists between both countries,” Sharif’s office said in a statement.
“In addition, they also discussed ways to deal with common challenges, especially climate change. The Prime Minister congratulated Azerbaijan for hosting the COP29 in Baku later this year and thanked President Aliyev for extending a personal invitation to him to participate in the event.”
Sharif also spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and conveyed his best wishes to him on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.
“They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields, including trade, investment, defense, and tourism,” Sharif’s office said.
“The Prime Minister and the President also discussed ways to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.”


Pakistani Taliban announce three-day ceasefire with government on Eid Al-Adha

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistani Taliban announce three-day ceasefire with government on Eid Al-Adha

  • The Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban
  • In recent months, TTP has claimed a number of attacks mainly in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban on Sunday announced a three-day ceasefire with the government in Islamabad on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, amid a renewed surge in militant violence in the South Asian country.
The Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. They have been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021.
In recent months, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed a number of attacks and are suspected by officials in several others, mainly in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province that borders Afghanistan.
In its statement, the TTP said its leader, Mufti Abu Mansoor Asim, announced the ceasefire on June 17-19, which correspond with the three-day Eid festival, on the “demand of the Pakistani people.”
“Therefore, all institutions and Mujahideen of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan should obey the above orders,” the group said in a statement. “If an action is taken by the [Pakistani] army and security agencies on this occasion, then all Mujahideen should ensure their self-defense.”
Similarly, the group said, its leader had issued a decree to reduce the sentences of all “prisoners” held by the TTP by two months.
Pakistan has witnessed a spike in militant violence in its two western provinces, KP and Balochistan, since the Pakistani Taliban called off their fragile, months-long truce with the government in November 2022.
Pakistan says Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are giving shelter to TTP fighters across the unruly border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in any country.


Pakistan to play for pride against Ireland today in Florida dead rubber

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan to play for pride against Ireland today in Florida dead rubber

  • Both Pakistan and Ireland have already been eliminated from T20 World Cup following dismal performances
  • Pakistani all-rounder Imad Wasim concedes team at “lowest point,” calls for “drastic change” in country’s cricket

ISLAMABAD: Skipper Babar Azam’s side will face Ireland today, Sunday, in Florida a dead rubber with the two Group A sides are already out of the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 following a string of poor performances this month.
India, with seven points from three wins and an abandoned match, have qualified for the Super Eight stage of the World Cup. The other team to join the 2007 champions from Group A is the United States, which shocked the world on June 6 by beating Pakistan in a Super Over thriller.
Azam’s side then succumbed to a six-run defeat against India in New York on June 9 in a low-scoring contest, which triggered furor on social media in Pakistan. Cricket fans in Pakistan lamented the team’s poor batting performance who failed to chase a 120-run target.
Pakistan, who have beaten only Canada in the tournament so far, lost their chance to qualify after the USA-Ireland match was washed away by rain on Friday.
“Match Day. Our final game of the tournament,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wrote on social media platform X ahead of the fixture.
’PAKISTAN AT LOWEST POINT’
Speaking at a pre-match conference on Saturday, Pakistani all-rounder Imad Wasim conceded the green shirts were at their lowest point following a first-round elimination from the World Cup.
“This is the lowest point. You can’t go any lower than this. That’s the fact,” he told reporters at a news conference. 
Asked whether there needed to be major changes, the 35-year-old left-arm spinner said it was clear that radical changes were needed.
“It’s not my domain but I think there should be changes and there should be a drastic change so we can move forward,” he said.
Wasim, who came out of a brief retirement for this tournament, said that the change needed to be far-reaching.
“In everything and every aspect. How to take the game on? How to play the game? This is what I believed in and this is why I came back and tried to do things but it didn’t happen,” he added.
Squads:
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk) 2 Saim Ayub 3 Babar Azam (capt) 4 Fakhar Zaman 5 Usman Khan 6 Shadab Khan 7 Imad Wasim 8 Shaheen Afridi/Abbas Afridi 9 Naseem Shah/Abrar Ahmed 10 Haris Rauf 11 Mohammad Amir
Ireland: (probable) 1 Andy Balbirnie 2 Paul Stirling (capt) 3 Lorcan Tucker (wk) 4 Harry Tector 5 Curtis Campher 6 George Dockrell 7 Gareth Delany 8 Mark Adair 9 Barry McCarthy 10 Josh Little 11 Craig Young/Ben White


Pakistan creating special police unit to protect foreigners in Islamabad— interior minister

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan creating special police unit to protect foreigners in Islamabad— interior minister

  • Pakistan’s interior minister meets China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong in Islamabad 
  • Separatist and religiously motivated militants have targeted Chinese nationals in Pakistan recently

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government is creating a special police unit for the protection of foreign nationals in Islamabad, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said on Sunday, as Pakistan looks to bolster security for Chinese citizens in the country. 

Naqvi’s comments came during a meeting with China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad on Sunday, state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said. 

China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but both separatist and religiously motivated militants have attacked Chinese projects in recent years, killing Chinese personnel. 

The most recent attack targeting Chinese nationals took place in March when five Chinese workers were killed in a suicide bombing. The Chinese nationals were on their way to a hydropower project funded by Beijing being built in Dasu in the country’s northwest when their vehicle was targeted. 

“Mohsin Naqvi said a separate force SPU [Special Protection Unit] is being created in Islamabad for the protection of foreign nationals,” Radio Pakistan said in a report. 

The March blast was the third major attack in a little over a week on China’s interests in the South Asian nation, where Beijing has invested more than $65 billion in infrastructure, energy and other projects as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

China has repeatedly called on Pakistan to ensure its nationals in the South Asian country are kept safe from militant attacks. Islamabad has since then taken measures to enhance the security of Chinese nationals in the country. 

Naqvi briefed the Chinese envoy regarding the security plan for Chinese engineers and staff working on CPEC and other projects, the state media said. 

“The minister said no one can create a rift in the eternal friendship between Pakistan and China and any such conspiracy will never be allowed to succeed,” Radio Pakistan said. 

The minister said the security of Chinese nationals working for Pakistan’s construction and development was Islamabad’s first priority. 

“The Chinese ambassador expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements,” Radio Pakistan said. 

An SPU of the police has already been formed in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi for the security of Chinese nationals in the metropolis. 

Sindh’s top cop earlier this week reviewed security measures for Chinese nationals in the southern Pakistani province.