A Netherland-based company, Zilt Proefbedrijf, has expressed its interest in establishing a joint venture in the agriculture sector to tap the market for salt-tolerant plant species in Pakistan.
An official of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) said the expression of interest came during a meeting of Commerce Ministry officials with Zilt Proefbedrijf in Hague last month.
The official said the Dutch were meeting with the relevant authorities to explore the opportunities in this regard.
For the last 10 years, Zilt Proefbedrijf has been researching in the salt tolerance of existing and conventional crops, which could provide food in saline areas.
The project offers Dutch the opportunity to not only be the forerunner in research into saline cultivation but also to take a global position in the actual development and marketing of new salt-tolerant plant varieties.
“With this, we also want to contribute to the world food issue. Interest has been shown in all parts of the world for our trials,” the website of Zilt notes.
The official said Zilt was willing to explore investment opportunities in developing and marketing salt tolerant plant varieties.
The experts believe that due to the increasing lack of freshwater in the world, there is a dire need to focus on nature-based solutions to help tackle the challenges posed by food insecurity.
Salt and water in the soil render nearly a third of Pakistan’s cultivable land unproductive. It’s a big problem for a country with a largely agrarian economy.
The annual cost of crop losses from the problem has been estimated at between Rs15 billion and Rs55 billion. As per the FAO study, the reforestation of salt-affected soils is possible with the help of proper site preparation, choice of species and the development of nursery and planting techniques.