THE FISCAL year 2013-14 saw Pakistan suffering from a trade deficit of $7.743 billion. Why? Not because of our political instability, not because of the terrorism, but because of the influence of natural, techno-economic and socio-economic factors upon our agricultural production. Yes! That important our agriculture is! That doesnt mean we have to curse agriculture because this is a mere negative aspect of its potential in our economy.
If we glance at the brighter side of this, we are really blessed to have our principal natural resources of arable land and water. Our 43% labor force is engaged in agriculture, it contributes more than 66% towards our exports earnings, about 22% towards our GDP. We are one of the biggest producers and suppliers of rice, mangoes, cotton, chickpea and many others. Moreover, Pakistan has an Agri-dependent economy with a very vast agriculture sector and most of the population involved in this sector. It has wide and vast fields of cultivable land offering the potential investor remunerative returns and rich harvests on his investment in this field. All our major industries like textiles, rice and flour mills etc. are directly hinged on agricultural raw material. In a nut shell, this sector has the largest contributions towards our national income and is the mainstay of our economy.
Pakistan has a relative advantage in the Asian region with vast areas of cultivable wasteland available and a strong potential for expansion of agriculture base. Pakistan has an agriculture base of more than 79.6 MH Hectares of total area with 22 MH hectares land under cultivation. 18 MH Hectares of land is under cultivation through irrigation system while 4 MH of land relies its cultivation exclusively on rain. The large local agricultural market of Pakistan is increasing at 29% per year with an internationally competitive unit cost of production for all major crops, fruits and vegetables at a very low transportation cost, and developed routes to Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan.
In fact we can considerably ameliorate our standing from 43rd in the list of countries with highest GDPs by capitalizing in agricultural products and making them our dexterity by allocating appropriate funds for this sector. Specially, when we know our other industries are failing, because our people cannot bear the high costs of production that our indigenous products usually have, and they prefer the economical “Made in China”. We can take example of Japan who has specialized in heavy machinery now; they dont waste their resources and energy on the miscellaneous products and are today the third biggest economy mainly on account of its high standard exports of heavy machinery. In our case, we may not become the biggest economy, but we have the potential to rule the agricultural world.