Agriculture allocated budget cut by half

The agriculture allocated budget of Punjab province have been cut by half. The current development budget for the year 2020-21 of the agriculture sector of the Punjab province, the food basket of the country, has been reduced to half as both the crisis- locust invasion and the pandemic Covid-19, are challenging the productivity.

Agriculture allocated budget cut by half

The agriculture allocated budget of Punjab province have been cut by half. The current development budget for the year 2020-21 of the agriculture sector of the Punjab province, the food basket of the country, has been reduced to half as both the crisis- locust invasion and the pandemic Covid-19, are challenging the productivity.

Against the budget reserved Rs 15.5 billion in 2019-20 for development expenditure, government has allotted just Rs 8.065 billion under Annual Development Programme (ADP) 2020-21, devastating the amount by nearly 48 percent if compared with budget estimates of the last year.

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Even Rs 4 billion that has been allocated for locust control in 2020-21, the total funds for agriculture sector will be lower than last year’s outlay.

According to the budget documents, the agriculture sector which is not affected much by Covid-19, have been affected by the pests and locust attack leading to lower output than predicted.

The consequences of Covid-19 have been shifted towards the urban areas, with the agriculture sector mostly stable but the sector depends on various inputs and effective logistics that ought to be managed as this sector feeds the country.

This sector has largely remained unaffected of pandemic, the disturbances in supply chains due to the lockdown affected availability of agriculture inputs as well as sale of production.

Unfortunately, agriculture sector is going through the strain of worst ever locust attack. The vulnerability of the sector to external threats is huge and requires to be improved through focused interventions to furnish agriculture extension services, encourage better and more resilient varieties of seeds and crops, etc.

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As per the budget documents, it is crucial manage the support to this sector as it feed the Punjab province. The provincial Finance Minister attempted the financial plan for year 2020-21 as an inclusive budget. However, he did not really include agriculture and food security in his priority areas while produced outlay for provincial budget. Agriculture and food security was on the sixth place out of seven-point priorities in allocating funds for various sectors.

Also, the current non-development expenditure in FY 2020-21; the Punjab government has committed resources for several initiatives that strengthen agriculture sector and provides support to struggling agriculturists.

Rs 1.350 billion has been allocated for Crop Insurance Program, farmers will be provided with subsidy on agricultural inputs to the tune of Rs 4 billion and an amount of Rs 1.860 billion is allotted or Interest Free Loan Schemes for farmers.

Demonstrating funding approach for year 2020-21, it is said that the Vision for Punjab’s Agriculture sector is converting Punjab’s agriculture into a market-driven, expanded and firm sector through technologies, transparency and value-for-money.

 Since Covid-19 has showed up the sector has remained vulnerable of the economy in terms of the food security situation. According to the estimates issued by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) the vulnerability remains at 87.7% for Punjab.

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However the sector has not faced a loss as big as the manufacturing or the services sector has however, the disturbances in supply chains may affect the availability of quality seeds, fertilizers and other inputs. To tackle with these issues the government of Punjab will introduce interventions to have the agriculture sector protected.

Investments will be held in order to support food security, ensure availability of inputs for agriculture and tackle the locust invasions. Also, the changes in crop mix will be motivated and climate smart investments will be made. Agriculture sector’s total outlay for the year 2019-20 was at Rs.15.5 billion.

 Punjab government has adopted targeted spending strategy for the FY 2020-21. It has been planned to execute 39 on-going and 5 new schemes for which provision of Rs. 8.065 billion is being allotted.


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