Dr. Hassnain Javed
November 08, 2018
Agricultural sector is contributing heavily to the Pakistan economy. Despite that, it is still suffering from chronic issues which needs not only immediate attention by the government but also requires a new system dynamic to address the infection points.
Pakistan was once considered to be water-surplus country but now it is classified as water-deficit country. Like many other developing countries Pakistan population is accelerating at increasing rate and expected to rise 250 Million by 2025 which will eventually drop down the per capita availability of water. Moreover, the controversial in constructing dams and climatic change is another danger for the sector. According to Asian Development Bank (ADB) it is projected that by 2025 Pakistan will undergo major dip in the food production with a shortage of 70 million tons of food.
Besides this, long duration load shedding is again one of the serious threats to the agricultural sector. The resource optimization is not achieved due to power shortages and inability to operationalize the tube wells. Although tube wells are primary source for irrigating the land as its alternative diesel is an expensive option for the poor farmers. Likewise, agricultural extension is considered to be the driving force for improving the agricultural productivity levels. Unfortunately, Pakistan lacks technology transfer and majority of the operations are executed with aid of traditional extension services to cater the demand which is less efficient and unable to produce the desired yield as compared to modern agricultural equipment.
On the other hand, the most important issue is absence of land reforms. In Pakistan 65 percent of land holding is under the possession of five ruling families. Moreover, approximately about two percent of the household has a complete hold on the 45 percent of the land area. Due to absence of land reforms the subsidies and other farmer based incentives given by the government are primarily enjoyed by the feudal landlords whereas the small land holding farmers are at disadvantage which results in rising poverty and declining GDP growth rates.
In addition, there is absence of channelized distribution network for quality seed. As poor quality seeds and fertilizers has adverse impact on plant germination and the overall vigor. Furthermore, there is monopoly of good quality certified fertilizer companies which leads to higher prices and non-affordability for small farm holdings that further translate into low productivity. Besides the government strict restriction on the usage of adulterated or either expired insecticides still it has continuous trend of using it. And it leads to prolonged environmental and health hazards. Another dilemma of our society is the non-utilization of cultivable waste land which accounts for greater percentage of the total agricultural land in Pakistan. With the increasing population rates per capita availability of cultivatable land is shrinking. Thus, it requires an immediate action by the government.
With this entire alarming situation of Pakistan agricultural sector which is considerably the backbone of our structure requires immediate action. The policy makers need to address the situation by subsidizing the agro-tech education and its relevant machinery in Pakistan. There is always emphasis on producing the professional doctors, lawyers and government officers but very insignificant efforts placed to produce professional framers.
Having a quick glance at global leading economies for example Australia is a major agricultural producer as well as exporter which have employed more than 325,300 individuals in the respective sector. Moreover, agriculture and its closely related sectors earn $155 billion a year for a 12% share of GDP. In addition, Australian farmers and grazers own 135,997 farms which cover 61 percent of Australia’s land mass. Likewise, in Canada growing number of women are choosing farming careers as it offers diversity and comparatively good profit margins. Besides this, agriculture is a vital industry in China as well it has employed more than 300 million farmers. It ranks first in producing worldwide farm output and the agricultural development and reforms well complemented in China’s history of speedy growth and managing the world’s largest population.
Therefore, Pakistan also needs to attract its young population towards opting for agriculture as a favorable option not the last one. In my view, career in agriculture should be most demanding job in the whole world as it is the one that aids in feeding the world. It is not only important in providing basic nutrients to human body but also plays a key role in landscape restatement. In reality, very few actually know the worth of agriculture sector. If it remains unaddressed then time is no far when Pakistan will have to seek food aid. Thus, it need to offer trainings, symposiums, research centers, agriculture technology houses, degrees and much more to strengthen our backbone and materialize the benefits which are yet untapped.