By Razi Syed
KARACHI: The first ever Panamax cargo ship, Al-Fahdah, berthed at Gwadar deep seaport laden with around 650 metric tonne of dates, said the traders on Wednesday.
With the arrival of Panamax cargo ship at the Gwader deep seaport, the doors are opened for large vessels to arrive in the country, they added. The Panamax ships are the largest ships and are built to carry the maximum amount of cargo.
“The Gwadar deep seaport has proved that it can cater large size cargo ships and it is hoped that more ships carrying wheat and other goods from US and Canada will also be berthed here,” Chief Executive, Pakistan Horticulture Development and Exports Board (PHDEB), Shamoon Sadiq said while talking to Daily Times.
He said PHDEB has finally decided to start work on two of the three modern dates processing plants in collaboration with private sector stakeholders.
He said due to projects’ cost escalation, dollar increase and back out of investors, PHDEB has decided to start construction on one of the plants in Turbat. Under the trade policy three date processing plants will start by year-end one each in Sindh, Balochistan and North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) with a revised cost of Rs 148.6 million, said Shamoon Sadiq, Chief Executive of PHDEB.
“Around Rs 80 million will be incurred on each project as we have already provided land for these projects from respective provincial governments,” Sadiq said.
He said construction of two dates processing plants one each at Khairpur and Dera Ismail Khan at a cost of Rs 80 million each were expected to start within three months. “The projects will be completed within a year while the work on Turbat plant was about to start up-to-the-mark plant, which would be established on public private partnership (PPP) basis” he said.
He said these plants were being built along with cold storage facilities. Pakistan, with an estimated 730 thousand tonnes annual production, ranks fourth in dates production and fifth in its exports around the world.
Under PPP, the Sindh government has provided two acres of land for this purpose. The Sindh government also released Rs 21.946 million from the Export Development Fund (EDF) which would take care of the cost of plant machinery, equipment, vehicles and other civil works.
The Board had set 2009 as a deadline for completion of the Turbat plant, which would produce an estimated 2400 metric tonnes of processed dates during the 150 working days.
The proposed plant would be based on multiple products including pitted and stuffed dates and would increase the level of value addition.
He said the foreign made equipment would be bought from the local market if needed, adding that the Internal Financial Rate of Return of the project was estimated at 21.80 percent, the IERR at 12.30 percent and the benefit cost ratio at 1.08 percent. Presently, the country has 54 date processing units and country is the top dates exporter in the world after exporting more than 90,500 metric tonnes of dates during 2008-09, he added.
He said around 30 countries including China, India, Japan, USA, Canada, European Union were purchasing the country’s date produce.
He said buyers from India, China, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan had shown great interest in making deals for dates.