Geographical and Historical Importance of Okara
Okara is a famous district headquarters consisting three big Tehsil headquarters i.e.: (i) Tehsil Depalpur (Including Depalpur, Hujra Shah Muqeem, Haveli Lakha, Basirpur, Mandi Ahmadabad, Towns), (ii) Renala Khurd (Including Renala Khurd, Syedwala, Kohla, Kohla Lasharian, Jandraka, Chuchak, Jaboka, Bamanbala, Akhtarabad, Kissan, Sher Garh Towns), and (iii) Okara (Including OKARA CANTONEMENT, Gamber, Yangpur, Fatehpur, Bibipur, Moza Akbar, Bahadarnagar Farms, Satghara and Gogera Town and Okara city). It is added that Gogera has a historic fame because it was a district headquarters at the time of Jange Azadi 1857.
Okara is a land of Dairy Farms, Agricultural and Industrial establishments situated on Grand Trunk Road 135 km in the south west of Lahore. Okara was declared notified area in 1918. Since then, (from the very beginning i.e. for about fifty long years prior to independence, Okara meets the major food requirements of all kinds of Grain, Dairy products, par boiled Rice, Fruit & Vegetables (especially Potato/Potato seeds etc.), Meat products, Beef (largest cattle market of the country is being held on every 1st to 9th each month in Okara), Maize and Sugarcane, Poultry, Confectionary products. The BIGGEST DAIRY FARMS OF ASIA, Bahadarnagar Farms is situated here. It is worth mentioning that OKARA IS AT NO. 4 IN THE WORLD in Milk production. Okara has fertile land with enormous potential in Agricultural yield. This is why, Okara Grain market was considered as biggest market in the Punjab before partition of the subcontinent and market rates of Okara Mandi has been announced from BBC; London. Important Cantonment of the country i.e. OKARA CANTONMENT is situated in the area. UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION and a CADET COLLEGE have since been established in Okara.
Agricultural & Industrial Establishments View of Okara
Okara played its vital role as an effective trade area. As regards to the Industrial development in the area, it is considered pioneer city in Cotton and food industry as at the time of independence the largest Cotton Mill (namely Sutleg Cotton Mills) of the country, Mitchell’s Fruit Farms as quality food processors and Okara Flour & General Mills were already running here. With the passage of time industry of all types including Rice, Sugar, Oil/Ghee, Electronics, Textile, Cotton, Surgical Cotton, export quality Crockery products, services and professional associations have developed in the area. Raw material for all industries is being supplied around the country from Okara district. Military Dairy Farm, Okara is a large scale live-stock project is also situated here which was established pre-independence. Military Dairy Factory, Okara is a famous Milk processing plant producing Milk Food products which fulfill the major requirements of Pakistan Army. Number of important Industrial Units is given as under: – (A list of Industrial Establishment situated in Okara containing 16 pages is also attached herewith).
1. Sugar Mills. 2
2. Textile Mills. 13
3. Vegetable Ghee/Oil Mills. 2
4. Paper Mills/Packages. 2
5. Poultry Feeds. 3
6. Flour Mills. 6
7. Electronics/Electric Appliances. 1
8. Dairy Products. 2
9. Food Industry. 1
10. Confectionery. 6
11. Cotton Ginning & Pressing. 21
12. Cotton Waste. 4
13. Surgical Cotton/Bandages. 29
14. Dairy Farms. 2
15. Rice Processing. 2
16. Rice Mills. 94
17. Seed Processing. 1
18. Foundry. 17
19. Unani (Herbal/Natural) Medicines. 3
20. Soap/Detergent. 14
21. Sewing Machines. 3
22. Agricultural Implements. 62
23. Ice Factory & Cold Storage. 93
24. Shoe Manufacturing. 49
At the time of independence Okara defunct Municipal Committee was considered the biggest and richest local body of the Punjab in respect of Revenue Income. Revenue Income of district Okara is increasing day by day and 100 times increase in Revenue Income is expected in accordance with the future plan achievements and objectives of Okara Chamber of Commerce & Industry which based on best of our knowledge & belief.
Establishment of Okara Chamber of Commerce & Industry:
The inhabitants of the area are also equally intellectual and motivated having result oriented minds. Despite having all the blessed natural gifts, there never existed a Trade Body, which could protect the interest of commercial community and raise voice to the concerned Government Organizations. Keeping in view the dire need of the area and to fulfill its commitments with the inhabitants, a Trade Body of highest caliber titled as the “Okara Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Okara” has been established since 1st October, 2004 with 25 Members. It started functioning in 2005 and has been contributing its share in the interest and benefit of business community. In the beginning a body of 9 Executive Members was formed to look after the affairs of the Chamber. The number of members is increasing day by day which has since been reached 312 in total.
OCCI’s Main Objective:
The objectives of the Chamber are to serve as catalyst and work on “NO-PROFIT NO-LOSS” basis and as such dose not involve itself in any business activities and thinking in the private sector for finding “out of box” solutions for long standing pressing problems. The Chamber has already adopted a long term strategy and is constantly formulating business plan for short/medium term that area in line with its long term objectives.
Multibillion product/raw material industry awaits attention from the concerned authorities. The main objective of Okara Chamber of Commerce & Industry is to promote trade/business and industrial activities in the area of its jurisdiction by facilitating and assisting the whole business community providing them initial information in terms as technology upgradation and skills development training assistance. And to business resolving issues between the entrepreneurs by arbitrating, representing the concerns of the business community through the elected standing committees and representatives to the Government and to assist the concerned authorities in developing the policies that shall be conducive for doing business.
Furthermore, areas of concern for the industrial environmental harmony which is threatened due to complicated taxation and tightening of monetary policies,’ will be addressed by the OCCI which already slashed the credit growth to private sector. Another objective of the Okara Chamber of Commerce & Industry is to focus all efforts on the development of business and to promote/develop, stimulate and protect the economic interest of Pakistan in general and of those engaged in Industry, Trade, Commerce, Mineral, Transport, Agriculture, Banking, Insurance, Shipping and construction in particular, to boost up professional development to the ability of achieving full advantage of modern era and technology both in business and industry in order to meet the requirements of the area. The OCCI announces programme for creating awareness about health & safety, discrimination in remuneration and wages, disciplinary practices to bring down production charges, enhancement of quality and freedom to form associations and management systems for locals and nationals.
Long Term Plan:
The OCCI identified problems and short comings in the industrial sector and chalked out long and short term plan for making the industry competitive at international level. Detail of the long term and short term plans is discussed hereunder;
Master Plan of Industrial Zone:
A study for setting up an industrial zone on a vast tract of 600 acres un-commanded land which lies about 10/12 km in the south of Okara city which has ever since been declared as un-commanded land (on account of saline sub-soil water) is being carried out anticipating approval of the Government. The said tract of land can be utilized for establishment of a big industrial zone. Okara Chamber of Commerce & Industry cherishes for Okara to be declared as TAX FREE ZONE. The OCCI is already engaged in carrying out initial survey on the proposed land with a view to setting up an industrial zone awaiting funding from the Federal/Provincial Governments. The rules of business which will govern the activities for establishing industrial zone are being formulated by the OCCI in collaboration and guidance with the concerned authorities. The work on this project will commence as soon as the transfer of land for the purpose mentioned above is finalized so that Pakistanis living in Europe, Middle East, North America and other countries who want to maintain their ties with the mother-land through investment, could be encouraged for establishing industrial zone in Okara. Resultantly tons of jobs in public sector will be created which would be helpful for the highest growth of the national economy. This will create tremendous opportunities not only for new job creation but also enhancement of commercial initiatives in the private sector and ensure wide-spread growth in the country’s economy. International consultants will be contacted to obtain services of their expertise and wide experience for the purpose pending for confirmation from the authorities.
Profile of Traditional Products:
Par boiled Rice is one of the major traditional products of Okara which is being exported to Middle East including Saudi Arabia, Russian States, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the world. More than 100 Rice Mills exist in Okara up gradation and promotion of existing Rice industry is the main objective of the OCCI.
The development and up-gradation of existing par boiled Rice industry by restructuring this sector providing facilities and services across the Rice industry value chain to enhance sector competitiveness through innovations and research and to promote technology development, streamlining, acquiring and up-gradation across Rice industrial chain. The OCCI will facilitate the establishment & development of industrial sector. Special initiatives and strategy working group will be formulated for establishment & development of par boiled Rice industry such as: –
• Up-gradation and promotion of existing more than 100 Rice Mills in Okara.
• Establishment and Development of Rice processing plants having modern technology.
To boost and raise commercial tranquility as well as create resources identification which could ensure sustainable fields raising of all kinds of agricultural and industrial establishments, are also the future plans of the OCCI.
As already stated, Okara is at N0. 4 in the world in milk production hence the emphasis will vest on the development and upgradation of dairy supply from the area by enhancing competitiveness as well as supporting and facilitating the farmers, processors by providing better know-how of innovative and informative data. To promote milk and other value added dairy products and to promote development and up gradation of dairy supply chain, the OCCI has a plan with a vision to turn raise Pakistan to top the dairy manufacturing countries in the world. Strenuous efforts to facilitate coordinate by adopting all initiatives leading to the development of the dairy industry in the area are in the pipeline of the OCCI. To help introduce best management practices for better production and operational efficiencies is also an important objective of the OCCI. Long term change in the dairy industry of the area on the lines to establish modern and model dairy farms is the main objective of the OCCI. In this connection OCCI would facilitate the farmers of the area for establishment of model dairy farms and provide and create a conducive regulatory environment for the promotion and development of dairy sector under the guideline of the concerned authorities. OCCI feels that training, promotion and skill-development of human resources and to promote technology development, transfer assimilation, streamlining, acquiring and up gradation across dairy value chain by undertaking new initiatives is also essential for the white revolution industry.
As regards the other future plans the same are as under: –
• Establishment of Fruits and Vegetables Dehydration plants.
• Establishment of Maize processing plants/oil plants.
• Establishment of Poultry and Egg Dehydration plants.
• Promotion and Development of Textile Industry (detailed report attached herewith on separate sheets).
• Establishment of Milk processing plants.
• To motivate and introduce incentives the farmers of the area for Live Stock production.
• Establishment of Surgical Cotton & Bandages Industry of modern technology.
• Development Establishment of Foundry products Industry of modern technology.
• Development and Establishment of Agricultural Implements Industry of modern technology.
• To adopt measures and initiatives for improvement the public private partnership to enhance the competitiveness of Pakistan economy by gearing up economic growth in the country.
• Promoting economic blocs and international joint ventures.
• HR development. Vocational Training centers to be set up in the premises of units in collaboration with TEVTA, PVTC and others.