With a strategic location in the region and having vast untapped natural resources, diversity of climate, simultaneously five ecological zones, fisheries and strategic mineral resources, Balochistan has the potential to emerge as Pakistan’s new economic frontier. It is endowed with rich reserves of gas, oil, lead, zinc, iron, marble, coal, gold and copper. The province is home to half of the country’s estimated gas reserves of 200 trillion cubic feet, as about 100 trillion cubic feet, according to one estimate, are found in the province. Sui gas field in Bugti tribal area accounts for a quarter of the country’s total output. Reko Diq copper and gold deposits in Chagai are believed to be even bigger than Sarcheshmeh in Iran and Escondida in Chile. It is one of the biggest untapped copper deposits on the globe. Balochistan has immense potential in corporate sector, which needs to be tapped efficiently. Gwadar, a port city and now the winter capital of the province may be developed as a business corporate hub. The port is still non-functional. It still lacks road and rail connectivity and its usage has so far been restricted to bulk cargo such as wheat and urea.
Born of corporate culture
The province has been lacking a corporate culture and hence it witnessed a meager corporate growth over the past many decades if compared with other provinces. Surprisingly, Balochistan witnessed a record corporate growth during the fiscal year 2010-11. The total companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Company Registration Office in Quetta crossed the 1,000 mark. The analysts consider it a milestone in the corporate growth history of Balochistan, reflecting the progressive development of a corporate culture in the province. The credit for unprecedented corporate growth in Balochistan goes to the SECP that undertook substantial reforms and facilitative measures over the years to promote corporatization in the country. Corporatization will help boost economic development of Balochistan. It will create enormous job opportunities for the local youth. There is a need to formulate a cohesive strategy to target sustainable, widespread and cross-sectoral growth and integrated economic development in the province.
Lack of human capital is a major constraint in growth of corporate culture. The province is technologically backward and economically least developed. It is rich in natural resources but with stagnant human resources. The province lacks the skilled and trained labor to utilize its natural resources. Resultantly, its resource potential remained untapped and the province has been caught up in underdevelopment trap.
Measures for human development
The government should work out a roadmap for development of human resources in the province. The province is yet to make significant attainments in the human development index (HDI), which focuses on measurable dimensions of human development such as living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. Thus, HDI combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy, and income.
The key areas need to focused for human development in Balochistan include a rational and long-term planning, on-job training programs, technical education according to the needs of 21st century, secondary level education for development of critical skills, allocation of significant resources, setting up of technology institutes in various districts, the recruitment of qualified teachers, instructors and trainers, access to the high-tech computing services, information technology, scientific management related education and value adding knowledge.
There are several companies and organizations which are taking lead in training in order to develop the immense potential in food and agriculture sector in Balochistan.
Balochistan Rural Support Program (BRSP) is implementing Balochistan Community Development Program, an EU-funded EUR 7 million project in 40 union councils (UCs) of four target districts in the province. The program focuses on the social mobilization of communities, rehabilitating and building community social infrastructure and strengthening the capacity of the local government to plan and supervise inclusive development. It seeks to impart skills to engage with government so that local people can realize a wider participation in the national development processes. The overall objective of the program is to support the government in reducing the negative impact of economic deprivation, poverty and social inequality, and to turn this into opportunities to build and empower resilient communities that participate actively in development activities.
Presently, the Star Farm is offering the skills development program for the training of the people of Balochistan through different local NGOs and private Companies, who are willing to acquire our services in different vocational program in 2016-2017. The main objective of the vocational training proposal is to promote income generation and employment opportunities of the target population in rural areas. The training will also improve access to vocational training for rural residents of all areas in the program by bringing training opportunities closer to their homes.
Star Farm Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd. is a Metro Group owned company. It is a consultancy firm providing consultancy for agriculture stakeholders like growers, processors, traders, logistic bodies and involved in the on-site training, capacity building and implementation of the respective standards. Star Farm is also recognized for the productivity enhancement of agri commodities, like crops, fruits, vegetables, livestock, diary and the integrated. The company started operations in 2011 in Pakistan and earned a good name due to its professionally equipped staff, who have been trained from China with a vigorous training. The Company has trained over 150 government employees (100 Agri/50 Livestock) and 150 private employees. It has provided consultation to more than 55 agro/food suppliers and after getting training from the company, 20 farm bases have achieved Global GAP Certifications and 8 companies have achieved IFS Certifications.
Knowledge plans for farmers
In 2013, international marketing specialist of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) sent a group of farmers, experts and government officials from Balochistan to Australia in order to educate over 20,000 local farmers in the province about latest agricultural techniques. The farmers were selected for the project on the criteria of their ability to pass on the knowledge gained to their communities from different districts of the province. The provincial livestock department also benefited from this training experience. The FAO Balochistan Agri Business Programme, funded by the Australian Government is currently working in 6 districts of Balochistan. Since 2012 the project has been working on water resources management, community mobilization, Marketing, crop production, livestock and female income generating activities. Farmers Field Schools were introduced as extension approach and for training and knowledge development in Balochistan. Following the pattern of initial establishment and consolidation of Community Organizations (COs), and movement towards economic activities, 29 farmers marketing collectives have now been formed in the six districts.