Pakistani expats send $11.38 billion home in first seven months of fiscal year

Pakistan depends greatly on workers’ remittances from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, particularly in the GCC. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Pakistani expats send $11.38 billion home in first seven months of fiscal year

KARACHI: Pakistanis working overseas have sent $11.383 billion to their homeland in the first 7 months — July to January — of the current fiscal year (FY18), the State Bank of Pakistan said in a statement on Tuesday.
That remittance has grown 3.55 percent compared to the amount remitted during the same period in the preceding fiscal year, and the statement suggested that the total remittance sent home by overseas workers in FY18 could reach $20 billion. The target set for FY18, however, was $20.7 billion.
In January 2018, the inflow of workers’ remittances amounted to $1.639 billion, which is 4.92 percent lower than December 2017, but 10.10 percent higher than January 2017.
“The economic conditions of the Middle East and localization of labor in some countries have largely affected the inflow of workers’ remittances,” Muzzamil Aslam, senior economist and CEO of EFG-Hermes Pakistan, told Arab News.
Pakistan depends greatly on workers’ remittances from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, particularly in the GCC.
According to the bank, remittances sent by workers from Saudi Arabia in FY18 amount to $2.91 billion compared to $3.16 billion in FY17. However, the amount from the UAE has marginally increased from $2.4 billion to $2.5 billion.
The bank’s statement explained that lower remittances from the GCC were “offset by an improvement in remittances from non-GCC corridors, particularly the US and UK.”
Economists believe that the potential value of home remittance to Pakistan’s economy could be as high as $34 billion, but that, currently, the unofficial channels of Hundi and Hawala — using untraceable methods including IOUs and agents — account for almost 50 percent of incoming remittance.
“The government must come up with lucrative incentives to attract remittance through official channels,” Dr. Athar Ahmed, a senior economist, said, adding: “Pakistan may face pressure in the coming days, as its workforce in some countries is being reduced.”
Aslam believes that any bottleneck in remittance could exert serious pressure on the country’s balance of payment situation. Pakistan already faces a current-account deficit of $7.6 billion, which is 4.4 percent of its GDP.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.