Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said that the federal cabinet has approved the decision taken by the government to produce industrial cannabis, as a result of which Pakistan could become a $1 billion market in the future.
Announcing the decision on social networking site Twitter on Tuesday, the federal Minister for Science and Technology said in a statement on social networking site Twitter that the cabinet had given permission for commercial and medical use of the cannabis plant while approving the license for the Ministry of Science and Technology PCSIR.
Fawad Chaudhry further said that with a historic move Pakistan will enter the billion-dollar market.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Fawad Chaudhry said that some people were misinterpreting the cabinet’s decision to allow opium poppy cultivation in Pakistan and that Pakistan was using it to make medicines.
He explained that the industrial cannabis plant contains a compound called cannabidiol, which can play a vital role in reducing acute and chronic pain in medical treatment.
The minister said that the seeds of the plant are used to make hemp oil, the leaves are used in medicine and the stem is used to make fibre which could one day replace cotton in the textile industry.
Fawad Chaudhry clarified that the construction of the plant has so far been approved only under the control of the government so that further research on production and safety measures can be taken.
“We want the cannabis market to generate $1 billion in revenue for Pakistan in the next three years, and the areas selected for production in the first phase include Peshawar, Chakwal and Jhelum,” he said.
The Minister said that the government was also working on introducing a new scheme on health-related agriculture under which high-tech farms would be developed, focusing on non-traditional agriculture in which foreign vegetables were grown. Includes production of avocados, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, etc.
Dr Iqbal Chaudhry, director of the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at Karachi University, said his research institute has been selected by the government to work on the project because it contains hemp products and has as all the equipment and skills required for verification.
He said that Pakistan would be able to easily export various value-added products using the research facilities of ICCBS.
Dr Hussain Abidi, a member of the Planning Commission for Science and Technology, described the cabinet decision as very beneficial and said that in addition to the health and medicinal uses of cannabis, plant fibre residues could also be used to produce bioenergy. ۔
Electric bus project
At the beginning of his press conference, Fawad Chaudhry said that the Ministry of Science and Technology had achieved many of its objectives last year and the government had succeeded in introducing a policy to introduce electric buses and two- and three-wheeled vehicles in the country.
He said the government’s goal was to make Islamabad the first city in Pakistan to convert public transport into fully electric vehicles.
The minister announced that the government had signed an agreement with two companies for the electric bus project, which would lead to a ‘revolution’ in public transport infrastructure in the country.
Fawad Chaudhry said that the project would start with an initial investment of 50 million and 120 buses would be imported this year, buses would be manufactured in Pakistan from next year and production in their country would start in three years.
The Minister for Science and Technology further said that it was also important to introduce concessional vehicles like electric three-wheelers to female students so that their daily commute could be made easier.
Talking about the changing trends in the power sector, he said that the “best scenario” for Pakistan in the next 10 years would be that it would generate electricity from renewable sources and batteries have also been developed.