PAKISTAN IS a country where about 37 per cent population lives in rural areas and their income source is directly or indirectly related to agriculture. Agriculture contributes about 22 per cent to countrys GDP and about 25 per cent of the country’s total land area is under cultivation. About 41 percent of the labour forces are employed in agriculture, but on the contrary, the current agriculture policy lacks some flaws that leads to multiple negative factors in agriculture sector. In fact, the National Policy on Agriculture needs to set the strategic directions for agricultural and forestry development. This policy should address the issues to ensure that the capability of the agricultural sector’s strategic role in national development is sustained and enhanced in light of new and emerging challenges facing agricultural development. This should focus on new approaches to increase productivity and competitiveness, deepen linkages with other sectors, venture into new frontier areas as well as conserve and utilise natural resources on a sustainable basis. The National Policy on Agriculture should aim to set in place the enabling and supportive measures as well as a conducive environment to promote growth in the agricultural sector. The policies and strategies should formulate to continue to emphasise productivity and market driven growth. Structural changes in the economy have brought forth new issues and challenges in the agricultural sector in particular acute labour shortage, limited availability of suitable land and increasing cost of production arising from energy crisis and intersectoral competition for resources as well as intense competition in the global market resulting from trade liberalisation. The current financial crisis in the country and the region resulting from the further liberalisation of the financial market has made the currency market highly vulnerable to speculation. The volatility and resultant decline in the exchange rate of the Rupee vis-à-vis major currencies has negatively affected the stability and security of the country’s food supply. This instability and insecurity, if left unchecked, can have serious economic, social and political implications. The smallholder sector continues to experience problems of low productivity and uneconomic size of holdings. Labour shortages and low commodity prices have further led to substantial idle agricultural land and abandoned holdings. The development of high value-added resource-based products is still limited and exports mainly consist of primary and intermediate products. More than seventy per cent of the total raw materials used in the food processing industries are imported. Lack of domestic production coupled with inconsistent supply resulted in many small and medium scale agro-based firms operating below capacity. There is a need to further strengthen inter and intra-sectoral linkages especially with support and downstream industries. The concerns for the environment at both domestic and global levels require more innovative and efficient agricultural and forestry practices for the sustainable development of the sector.
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