The agriculture sector of Pakistan is in trouble faces many issues. The government admits that the sector could not grow more than 1.9 per cent in the current fiscal year.
The Agriculture sector is engaged in the game of Pakistan’s financial system since independence. In the early times, it was considered a dominant sector however due to some political, social, environmental and local weather stipulations its production is going down step by step and at the time it is the second greatest sector in Pakistan.
Agriculture have great role in economic construction and prosperity. Following are some essential contributions of agriculture;
- Contribution to National Income
- Source of Food Supply
- Pre-Requisite for Raw Material
- Provision of Surplus Food
- Shift of Manpower
- Creation of Infrastructure
- Relief from Shortage of Capital
- Helpful to Reduce Inequality
- Based on Democratic Notions
- Create Effective Demand
- Helpful in Phasing out Economic Depression
- Source of Foreign Exchange for the Country
- Contribution to Capital Formation
- Employment Opportunities for Rural People
- Extension of Market for Industrial Output
- Role in Gross Domestic Product of Pakistan
Current GDP of Pakistan is 305 billion. Contribution of main crops in agriculture sector is about 25.6 % while contribution of major crops in GDP is about 5.4% according to economic survey of Pakistan. Wheat contributes approximately 10.3% in agriculture. Sugarcane is also a cash and sugar crop.
Agriculture accounts for 18.9 % of GDP and has employed bulk of the full paintings power. Agriculture sector recorded an expansion of 3.46 percent in FY 2017 as compared to the expansion of 0.27 percent in last 12 months. The vegetation sub sector contains of 37.22 pc of agriculture sector and is the elemental motive force of enlargement of the agriculture sector as well as GDP.
We know that because the government shared this number with the media after the recent approval of the 12th five-year plan. It also envisages 4pc economic growth for this year. In the past, policymakers had set targets of 3.8pc and 6.2pc for agriculture and economic growth.
So, either policymakers were too optimistic at that time or the political transition has proved to be too depressing for agriculture.
The recently released second quarterly report of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) does not project a growth rate for agriculture. But it says that overall economic growth will remain in the range of 3.5pc and 4pc. The SBP report says outputs of three key crops cotton, rice and sugar cane have been in decline. It casts doubt on the likelihood of achieving the wheat target of 25.6 million tons as well. The report informs us that all minor crops, except chickpea and sunflower, have shown a declining trend in output.
Major Issues of Agriculture:
The sector is facing problems because of several issues such as a water shortage, shrinking of the area under cultivation and higher costs of inputs.
Following are the main issues that causes backwardness in agriculture:
1. The farmers of our country are mostly un-educated and lack technical knowledge. They are unable to understand the modern scientific methods of agriculture and often remain ignorant of good means to protect and increase their yield. Their production is therefore low.
2. The majority of our farmers are poor, and they often live in a hand to mouth position. Most of them are always under heavy burdens of debts. So due to lack of capital they cannot afford to purchase modern scientific implements, chemical manures, improved types of seeds etc. Hence, they cannot attain the required standards.
3. Most of our farmers are still stuck to the old traditions of their forefathers. The circumstances have compelled them to use the crude implements, because due to small holdings of land and poverty they are unable to acquire and use modern scientific methods. That is why their standard is lower than that of cultivators in developed countries.
4. Due to excessive use of canal water, most of our cultivated lands have become victims of these two dangerous diseases. Every year, salinity alone, is turning about 1, 00,000 acres of arable land into marches and salt lands. Water logging is no less injurious. On the other hand, the measures taken so far are quite inadequate for such issues.
5. Due to our law of inheritance, our farmers command very small pieces of hands which prove to be costly. A farmer cannot afford tractors and other machineries for a small piece of land and their incomes are low. Hence his interest is converted to some other sector.
6. Our farmers have to face many issues due to scarcity of water which is one our major problems. Large tracts of land estimated to be about 22 million acres is lying uncultivated due to shortage of water. Rainfall is uncertain and the existing irrigation facilities in our country are quite insufficient and need to be extended.
7. The land tenure system of Pakistan has created a chain of intermediaries in between the state and the tenants. The system, instead of being conductive to agricultural development, stands in the way of its progress.
8. In some areas of our country, especially in hilly regions, the upper fertile soil is being eroded by different natural agents of change. Thus, the fertility is poor, and soils are becoming less productive.
9. The marketing facilities for agricultural products in Pakistan are still far from satisfactory level. Our cultivators cannot get just prices for their produce due to defective marketing organization. Moreover, the chain of middlemen between the producers and ultimate consumers take a heavy share of their produce. Thus, the cultivators do not take much real interest in increasing their product too.
10. Due to lack of agricultural education and methods of modern research, our farmers cannot control the various diseases of crops and attacks of pests and insects. The result is low yields.
11. The agricultural activities in our country are performed in rural areas, but most of our villages have no road or railway links with our markets. So, farmers have to face innumerable hardships to sell their products. Hence the farmers take very little interest in their profession and production suffers.
12. The resources required for agricultural operation are land, layout, livestock, farm equipment, seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, transport etc. For the convenient and timely procurement of these resources the farmers must have easy access to credit. Zarai taraqiati and commercial banks provide loans to the farmers which are insufficient.
Agriculture may not grow at a sustainable high rate unless the problem is addressed.
In the current environment of political confrontation and uncertainty, it seems too difficult. With energy prices shooting up every month as old subsidies go and oil prices rise, prices of agricultural inputs, including seeds and fertilizers, will likely continue to increase. Currently, this is a major concern for farmers.
Water shortages may become more acute as no initiative has been taken in the past eight months for building small dams and rainwater reservoirs.
If the country faces a super flood due to the faster melting of glaciers and increased mercury level, as the Federal Flood Commission fears, agriculture will suffer with more issues.
Remedies to Overcome the Issues:
The land which has been declared useless due to salinity and water-logging should be reclaimed. Tube-wells should be installed in the affected areas to decrease the salinity. Beds of new canals should be made of concrete to avoid water-logging. These measures should be taken on priority basis to avoid further deterioration of land.
The major issues in agriculture of Pakistan is scarcity of water. Most of the land is lying unused due to this problem. Therefore, it is necessary that the irrigation facilities be extended for increasing agricultural output.
The agricultural yield can also be increased to a great extent by using fertilizers. The use of artificial manure should be introduced throughout the country. Due to poverty and illiteracy our farmers hesitate to purchase the fertilizers.
The use of better seeds, fertilizers and modern implements is not possible without adequate credit facilities for the farmers. The government has extended the existing credit facilities to a large extent. The commercial banks also grant loans to the farmers, but still there is a need for more facilities as our farmers are very poor. The farmers should be provided better quality seeds at the lowest price and at the right time. Better seeds will ultimately give better yield.
Various plant diseases damage a large part of our crops. But our farmers have no effective control over them. Therefore, preventive and narrative measures should be taken throughout the country. Mechanization of agriculture refers to the use of various equipments the different stages of cultivation. Using modern equipments better results can be achieved in the shortest time.
Co-operative farming refers to the farming done on the basis of mutual help and co-operation. Under this method the small holdings are consolidated. In this way the owners of small holdings can also use fertilizers and modern equipments jointly. After harvesting, the yield can be distributed among the owners according to their ownership. Increase of literacy ratio in rural areas especially in agree-education is the need of the day. The more educated the farmers will be the better will be the results achieved. Marketing procedures should be simplified, and various marketing facilities should be provided to the cultivators.
The rural areas of the country must be provided with road and railway links with marketing centers and better means of transport and communication should be provided.
Warranted Policies, Plans and Programs for Future Agriculture:
- Development and adoption of new varieties
- Better access to markets for inputs (seeds, fertilizers, farm mechanization, credit, water) and outputs
- Improved infrastructure including storage and cooling facilities
- Reduction in post harvest losses
- Greater investment in research, development and extension
- Improved quality and fulfillment of quarantine requirements for international markets and competitiveness
- Greater diversification, especially minor but high value crops
- Farm input and produces pricing
- Demand related policies:
- Income, growth and development
- Education and knowledge
- Food price stabilization
- Market related policies:
- Effectiveness of markets
- Policies to insulate local markets from global markets
- Access to local markets
Being an agrarian country, agricultural sector of Pakistan’s economy is still backward. Use of modern techniques, provision of credit facilities, basic infrastructure and agriculture research facilities are needed to remove all the problems of agriculture sector.
Muhammad Sajjad1, Dr. Zubair Aslam1, Hira Kanwal1, Ali Ahmad1,Muhammad Waqas1,Sami-Ur-Rehman1 , Wajeeh Ur Rehman1, Yousuf Akram1 ,Gulnaz Anwar1
1Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.