Steps to be taken to uplift agriculture yield.

 
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Byline: Ahsan Nisar

Agriculture is undoubtedly the backbone of Pakistan's economy as 45% of the labor force depends on this sector for livelihood. However, growth rates have been poor owing to bad policy decisions and poor implementation. Farm input costs are rising, our agriculture produce markets are monopolized, access to finance is dismal, bad practices are depleting our natural endowment, climate change is adversely affecting our ecosystem, value-addition of crops is weak and agriculture related exports are far below potential. This gross neglect of the agriculture sector, especially small farmers, will hamper Pakistan's GDP growth rate if left unattended and an aggressive turnaround is now pertinent.

In view of the rising inflation, commodity prices could not be increased to achieve profitability but a one-time price adjustment may be required. Input costs may be decreased gradually by adopting following measures:

  1. Optimizing existing and introducing new subsidy programs

  2. Increasing access to credit with easy terms of repayment

  3. Sharing costs of investments required to improve productivity

    The declaration of an agriculture emergency to increase the profitability of farmers was one of the first 35 initiatives the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had promised after coming into power. A total of Rs 309 billion will be spent on agriculture by the government with 18 big schemes to be implemented in the next five years. Agricultural imports have touched the $4 billion mark including a $2 billion bill for importing edible oil. The new agricultural scheme will emphasize on boosting per capita production, cautious use of water and increased access to farming credits whilst the livestock and fisheries sector will be given special attention as they have huge export potential. Livestock initiatives for small and medium farmers entail four projects worth Rs 6.38 billion which include:

  4. Saving the buffalo calf

  5. Buffalo calf fattening

  6. Backyard poultry

  7. Controlling foot and mouth disease

    Out of the total 309 billion rupees' package, the federal government would provide 84 billion rupee while 225 billion rupees will be shared by the provincial governments. The government is also negotiating with China for its cooperation in development of agricultural and livestock sectors by sharing expertise and knowledge. Pakistan is also...

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