Without having any doubt, one can easily say that agriculture sector of Pakistan consistently playing a central role in the Pakistan’s economy with key impact on the socio-economic set-up. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy as it accounts for over 21 percent of GDP, while employing 45 percent of the country’s labor force.
Agriculture sector supply raw materials to the downstream industry in that way contributing substantially to the country’s exports. And, it is all because of five major crops; wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, and maize; that contributing for 80 percent of the total production.
Surprisingly, agricultural GDP growth rate is constantly declining from 5.4 percent per annum in 1980 to 4.4 percent in 1990, 3.2 percent in 2000, to 2.2 percent during 2010-16. Having this scenario Pakistan’s agricultural sector not succeeded to grab the attention of Government in terms of formal policy making.
As an agrarian country Pakistan do not have a formal operative “Agricultural Policy”. But, from time to time a lot of ad-hoc measures are framed in the name of policy including Seed Act 1976, Punjab Fertilizers (Control) Order 1973, Wheat Procurement Policy, On-Farm Water Management and Water Users Associations Ordinance 1981 and The Canal and Drainage Act 1873.
Although, after 18th Amendment, the agriculture matter falls under the provisional responsibility, other issues like import and export of agricultural inputs and products, price setting, standardization and national research and inter provincial coordination issues as rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of primary irrigation structure lies under the jurisdiction of Federal Government.
Having all these problem along devolution of food and agriculture ministry at federal level have constituted more hurdles for already vulnerable sector. Agriculture sector of Pakistan have a lot of problems from natural to techno-economic and because of these problems per acre yield is very low in Pakistan, as compare to other developing and developed countries.
No policy mechanism has been adopted to eliminate the issues of soil erosion and even post harvesting. Therefore, soil fertility is falling day by day. The archaic method of flood irrigation is still in practice, which wastes almost 50 to 60 percent of water. Owing to these old methods of cultivation and harvesting, Pakistan has low per acre field as compared to Nepal, India and Bangladesh where they use modern scientific methods to increase their yields.
As well as, there is no effective measure to curb the problem of water logging and salinity. With decline in storage capacity of dams the availability of water per acre is also decreasing. It is need of time for all rounded policy approach in which agriculture should be part of combined overall growth promoting policy framework.
Agriculture should have seen as system not merely just five crops. Government have to come up with certain remedial measure to ensure long term relief to agriculture sector. In this regard government and stakeholders to come on one platform to shape out a way forward. For improving agri-economics, government must be given a clear policy confidence in new fiscal year.