Syed Abdullah Bukhari, Founder and CEO of Enrichers Investment Group, has extensive experience of nearly 20 years working in domestic and international financial markets and agricultural commodity derivatives. He is one of that rare breed of businessperson who believes in investing in social impact businesses that prioritize work to serve and attempt to solve the needs of local communities in a systemic and sustainable way.
Founded in 2011, Enrichers Investment EIG is now considered one of the top three companies operating on the Pakistan Mercantile Exchange (PMEX). It has diversified into agriculture, hospitality, tourism and real estate over the past decade under the leadership of Mr Bukhari, who said: ‘you have to be totally focused on whatever work you do and be disciplined to succeed and grow. In addition, you must show compassion towards your fellow human beings.
The company is undertaking a major initiative in southern Punjab districts like Bharat, Bahawalnagar and Bahawalpur to revive thousands of acres of arid and wasteland using modern technologies employed in the UAE and other regions to irrigate the deserts. The company has also undertaken hospitality-related projects in Gilgit-Baltistan to encourage environmentally friendly tourism.
In an interview with Dawn, he talked about his passion – agriculture – and how government and the private sector can improve the lot of smallholder farmers by taking a few small steps, fight food insecurity and boost food and agricultural exports for economic growth.
Selling products electronically to foreign buyers can break the vicious cycle of farmers being subjected to manipulation
“Pakistan is a resource-rich country with fertile soil and an ideal climate for agriculture. But if we are still a food insecure country, importing food for our people and our small producers are suffering, that means we need to correct our policies and connect our farmers directly to markets and industry. said Mr Bukhari, who has a law degree, argues.
“Over the past century, the domestic demand for food has intensified as our population has grown dramatically. According to the United Nations, at the current growth rate, the population is expected to double by 2050 and the demand for food is expected to increase by 59% to 98% by then. Pakistan’s food import bill soared to $6.4 billion in the first eight months of this fiscal year,” he continues.
According to him, the agricultural sector has a ripple effect on the economy and therefore needs to be modeled in a way that “we have never seen before to meet the predicted food demand. Insufficient water caused by climate change, urbanization, lack of investment and rising production costs – all pose a challenge to food security as well as the economy of Pakistan.
He believes the agricultural industry can alleviate food insecurity, the climate crisis and improve economic opportunities for farmers and Pakistan. “Agriculture has everything we need to increase incomes and create jobs. But we must invest in research and development in this important sector. The responsibility should not only lie with the government to be on par with developing countries, the private sector should also invest in various agriculture-related projects through the Mushurakah model.
He believes that the Pakistan Mercantile Exchange can play a major role in the development of agriculture and the welfare of the farming community. “The two wings of our commodities trading – cash-settled futures and deliverable futures – the latter can play a vital role in adding a decent cast to our fractured economy. Although deliverable futures present a unique set of complexities, PMEX’s recent initiative under the Global Commodity Trading Platform (GCTP) has opened a gateway of opportunity by bringing transparency and efficiency to these factors. complex.
“A one-stop solution to sell products electronically to foreign buyers can break the vicious cycle of farmers being subject to manipulation. This could prove to be a major driver in boosting our economy and our food and agricultural exports.
“Global buyers will have the benefit of reaching a wide variety of verified sellers selling products certified by internationally recognized testers at GCTP. They will not only have the ability to purchase goods with quality certification to international standards, but also at competitive prices and to obtain delivery of the goods purchased at the port of their choice in a few clicks.GCTP offers buyers security of their money until the transaction is successfully executed and the goods are dispatched from Pakistani ports to their respected destination.
“For the first time in Pakistan, GCTP will offer sellers the opportunity to sell their products globally and get prompt payment without being registered as exporters. Additionally, sellers will not have to prepare export-related documents, which will be handled by GCTP on their behalf. Additionally, by listing products at GCTP, sellers will be able to showcase their products in new markets and attract buyers from around the world.
In addition, he notes, it will equip farmers and other stakeholders with knowledge of changing supply and demand, business practices, risk management, quality assurance and a well-developed support infrastructure. “There is a saying that “our farmer is born in debt, grows up in debt and dies in debt”. This is because he is not educated or equipped with agricultural skills to improve his productivity and reduce waste. He is also not endowed with market knowledge or linked to the financial and commodity markets, which leaves him at the mercy of the intermediary for the purchase of inputs and the sale of products. This situation must change.
If we want agriculture to be the engine of economic growth, we must empower our farmers by educating them in modern farming practices as well as business management to rid them of the exploitative middleman. So, in order to get the ball rolling, the government in collaboration with the private sector should initiate awareness programs for farmers to increase their productivity.
Mr. Bukhari insists that Pakistan can not only become a food secure nation but also become a net food exporter by fixing its agricultural sector. “Low productivity is a major obstacle to domestic food security and exports. To keep pace with global food demand, there must be a shift from domestic demand-driven growth to export-led growth, and for this we must have precise geographically explicit knowledge of the analysis of spreads with local to global relevance aligned to ranking. and sort out potential market methods.
“Our policymakers, development professionals and entrepreneurs can cultivate avenues for food export growth by promoting our products and managing supply and demand bottlenecks. Exporting is not a “one size fits all” issue, we also need to reorient our export policies and align them with the requirements of global food standards.”
Mr Bukhari says Pakistan also has a comparative advantage in minerals. “Pakistan is home to the largest salt mines and coal reserves. Himalayan salt or pink salt mined from Punjab is considered “oil” or “rose gold” for Pakistan, reflecting its dollar value. However, it hurts my heart to see that it is exported at very low prices to China and India. “We can do better and make a lot of money from salt exports rather than throwing it away.”
Posted in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, May 2, 2022