Thatta plant begins palm oil extraction


KARACHI – Industries and Production Federal Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani has indicated that Pakistan has started experimental extraction of palm oil at the first ‘palm oil extraction plant’ constructed in Thatta district’s coastal belt to increase the production of the oil which is presently largely imported.
With high demand for palm oil across the country, local production in the coastal regions of Sindh and Balochistan will significantly reduce the import bill for this item. Bijrani was addressing media after the second two-day “Malaysia -Pakistan Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar-2011” held at a local hotel.
Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, on this occasion also said that Malaysia which had earlier supported Pakistan in the development of several projects, specifically oil refineries, would continue its cooperation. “Pakistan-Malaysia joint ventures have already left a mark in the global oils and fats industry,” he added.
Bijrani indicated that palm oil nurseries are being developed for the supply of oil palm saplings to farms in Thatta. Additionally, farms owners would also be provided technical support. The minister also said that oil palm fruits produced in other parts of the country would also be directly transported to Thatta oil mill for extraction.
According to sources, the Sindh government had earlier launched a pilot project at a cost of Rs 89.544 million to grow coconut and palm oil plants along the coast; the cultivation of the palm oil had proved very successful on an area of 550 acres on private farms and 500 acres on state farms. About 1,700 acres of land have already been brought under coconut cultivation on government lands in Thatta and Badin districts while 45 farms of over 600 acres are reserved for coconut plantation in the private sector. The oil extraction plant, designed on a pattern used in Malaysia and Sri Lanka, operates at a minimum capacity of two tonnes per hour and will require a mature plantation of about 1,000 to 1,200 acres of palm.
The federal minister claimed that after production at Thatta picks momentum, the import of millions of tonnes of palm oil from different countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and others would be reduced.
Dompok informed that Pakistan’s oil and fats market has grown from 2.7 million tonnes in 2000 to 3.7 million tonnes in 2010 with palm oil accounting for almost 50 percent of the total market. With a requirement of over three million tonnes annually, 70 percent of edible oil was being imported Pakistan while only 30 percent was provided from domestic sources.
Being one of the five major importers of Malaysian palm oil, Pakistan has been importing over 2.2 million tonnes of oil from Malaysia, he added. As a result, palm oil has become a major component of bilateral trade between the two countries. He said that the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries has further strengthened the bilateral trade relationship in several sectors, including palm oil. The minister went on to say that cooperation in other areas, including bulking installation, was also important with the latest project being developed the construction of a liquid cargo jetty at Port Qasim.


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