Agriculture Package deal for Pakistan – Day by day Instances


Pakistan is a developing country with the best fertile land available in the entire continent. Agriculture remains by far the biggest employer of labour and is an especially important sector from a social, livelihood, and foreign exchange perspective for the citizens. The growing population has now reached around 230 million, which is pressurising the agriculture sector not only to enhance productivity. But also to respond to a changing and diversifying food consumption pattern. However, agriculture growth had slowed down from an average of over four per cent per year between 1970-2000 to below three per cent thereafter due to poorly functioning agricultural markets, government intervention, development of housing societies on lands, inefficient water canal system, and a pattern of public spending on agriculture characterised by inefficient and poorly targeted subsidies that discourage a move to a more water efficient, higher value agriculture. Also, the increasing inflation and ban on imported seeds have made the life of farmers more miserable. Additionally, the recent flood has badly damaged most of the fertile land, and the lack of sufficient funds from the government has made it nearly impossible to use that land again.

Currently, the biggest challenge to the agriculture industry of our country is the development of residential societies on fertile land. It has been the major cause affecting agricultural productivity for a decade. About 68 per cent of the population living in rural areas of the country is directly or indirectly linked to agriculture as this sector contributes nearly 20 per cent share in gross domestic products and 60 per cent to export goods. Also, it is the negligence of the government as it is not employing the full potential of present agricultural land and not enhancing the area. But, it has been witnessed in recent years that instead of adding more land to existing ones for agricultural purposes, massive development of housing societies on rich agricultural land is shrinking already available land. Similarly, businessmen, land mafia, and investors are adding fuel to the fire by developing housing societies on agricultural land. The situation is even worse in major cities such as Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Gujranwala, and Faisalabad, where thousands of acres of agricultural land have been converted into housing societies. If this trend continues in a future couple of decades or so, the country’s fertile land will be under extreme pressure of population growth.

By developing housing societies on fertile land, we are compromising bio-diversity, landscaping, and irrigation infrastructure.

By developing housing societies on fertile land, we are compromising bio-diversity, landscaping, and irrigation infrastructure. The farmers have to toil for years to make the land fertile, and it is unjust that when this land starts giving production to the optimum, the owners sell it to developers to earn more money. What we are earning today by selling fertile land will get us in serious trouble in meeting the food needs of our population, which is already growing at the pace of around two per cent annually. Since Pakistan is already facing the issue of low agricultural productivity as compared to other countries in the region, specifically compared to India, shrinking fertility coupled with climate change would be more challenging. For instance, in Pakistani Punjab, the average per acre yield of wheat is nearly 31 mounds as compared to 45 mounds in Indian Punjab. The same happens in the case of other crops wherein the product is lesser than other countries in the region. One of the reasons behind all this is that agriculture is no longer a profit-making business. Real estate developers offer the farmers triple the market price, which is a temptation hard to ignore for the farmers who are increasingly selling out their holdings to real estate developers. Owing to the government’s apathy has further added to the misery of this class; the farmers are forced to sell out their farmlands and look for other businesses.

Our agriculture sector is already facing various challenges, including poor seed quality, substandard and costly inputs, imbalanced use of fertilizers, excessive use of pesticides, soil infertility, and soil erosion. And in the current scenarios, the rising trend of urbanization and the establishment of housing societies on fertile land would be lethal for the agricultural sector. Before establishing new cities, there should be a proper case study of the site, ecological balance, and the presence of underground water. Moreover, every society must be directed to ensure sufficient tree plantation in these settlements. The unplanned expansion of cities on fertile land is also damaging fruit plants, as witnessed in Multan, where hundreds of mango trees were cut down for use in the land for housing purposes. The honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan (Umar Atta Bandial) should take serious action for the sake of farmers and to secure the exports of Pakistan for the super worth of our country. Similarly, the most recent development of Gujranwala DHA on the fertile land of the rice corps is making the situation even worse and must be stopped or taken immediate action.

In a session with the renowned agriculturist (Rana Usman), and businessman (Safi Sahab), it has been concluded that IMF should take responsibility and provide Pakistan with a separate package to enhance its agricultural production and utilize its fertile land in a much better way. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund should instruct the politicians to spend the funds as required and demanded by the farmers. Similarly, our farmers must be given above minimum wages as they are putting extreme effort into preparing the crops for the country. And above all, governments and organizations must take serious action in again making farming a highly profitable business, arrange sessions, and encourage youngsters to invest in agriculture and pick this field as their startup. And by their creativity, skills, and use of technology, make the fertile land produce as much crop as it can. Hopefully, IMF will instruct the politicians, and they would some positive steps to make agriculture a profitable business.

The writer is a senior social and economic analyst and can be found at [email protected].


Add a Comment