Sunday, 23 September 2012

Govt urged to reevaluate agriculture policy

KARACHI: Stakeholders have called upon the government to reevaluate its agriculture policy and declare agriculture as an industry, according to a statement on Saturday.

“Economic renaissance in Pakistan is totally dependent on agriculture growth,” said Ahmad Jawad, CEO of Harvest Tradings and Member Export of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI). “Pakistan urgently needs a sustainable agricultural policy to improve the balance of trade and put the economy back on the track,” he said.

Several farmers are being forced to sell their yield at lower rates and are being exploited by the middlemen every year, he said.

The agricultural loans limit should be increased up to Rs400,000 per acre against the existing limit of a few thousand rupees and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), whose mandate is to serve the agriculture sector, must wake up and implement their vision practically, he said.

Jawad said that their crop production remained stagnant for several years, while the population kept on increasing. He said that small farmers are not benefiting from increased food prices, since the input costs increased tremendously.

National price monitoring committees should be strengthened at the district, provincial and national levels, while food banks should be set up at the provincial level and in food-insecure areas, he suggested.

Jawad said that 43 percent of Pakistan’s labour depends on agriculture and the yield gap in the four major crops of Pakistan was three times more than the best producers in the world such as China and Egypt.

Low yield is affecting the financial position of the 43 percent labour, leading to poverty in rural areas.

Approximately 25 percent of fruits and vegetables production is also lost due to the absence of required storages, he said.

The national policy on agriculture should aim at setting in place the enabling and supportive measures and viable environment to promote growth in the sector. The policies and strategies should be formulated keeping in mind the productivity and market-driven growth.

Structural changes in the economy have brought new issues and challenges in the agricultural sector.

Acute labour shortage, limited availability of suitable land and increasing cost of production arising from the energy crisis and competition for resources, as well as intense competition in the global market, resulting from trade liberalisation, he said.

Jawad also said that per acre yield could be improved through large-scale introduction of hybrid seeds and mechanised farming, high efficiently irrigation systems such as drip irrigation and reduction in wastage of crop through introduction of privately-owned storage facilities.

“The provincial governments should ensure more storage capacity through public-private partnership,” he suggested.
Courtesy The News

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