Episode 6| Indian Farmers Protest and Pakistan's Agricultural Sector (Part-2) | Hassan Rizwan Chattha – Rationale-47
This is part 2 of the article. You can read the previous part here.
Revitalization of Agriculture Sector of Pakistan
In Pakistan, agriculture contributes 18.5% to GDP and employs 38.5% of total national labor force. The sector plays a significant role in socio-economic development of country as it is directly and indirectly linked with other parts of economy as well.
Without an effective and dynamic agricultural economy, nations as described by agronomist M.S. Swaminathan survive on a ship-to-mouth basis. Pakistan is increasingly becoming a net food importer even though it is proudly pronounced as an agricultural country. These imports are putting an additional burden of more than $4 billion on an economy which already is performing poorly at the world stage.
Protests on farm laws in India should not divert the attention from dire need of reforming and revitalizing agriculture sector of Pakistan. There is an observable productivity gap between Indian and Pakistani Punjab. Both regions have same topography, climatic conditions, and soil nature due to landholding structure, subsistence farming, less access to agricultural related machinery. Seed qualities and crop varieties, farmers are deprived of extension services and advice, higher cost of production due to wastage of resources such as water, electricity prices for farmers are not regionally competitive.
Protests on farm laws in India should not divert the attention from dire need of reforming and revitalizing agriculture sector of Pakistan.
In Pakistan the traditional agriculture techniques are quite entrenched and as a result cause a lot of wastage of natural resources. The imprudent use of fertilizers and pesticides is damaging the soil health and putting a strain on natural resources like air, water, and also affect quality and safety of food. The cost of production is rising and it invites space for imports that ultimately are detrimental for local producers and markets. Pakistan is becoming uncompetitive regionally and in international markets. Even after realizing the scarcity of water, in Pakistan water use efficiency in the crop production system is extremely low. Empirical evidence also indicate that some of the best and most fertile lands have gone out of cultivation but food demand is continuously rising due to increase in population and per capita income.
Where it is beyond any doubt, that agriculture productivity can be increased by the use of modern technology. For instance, laser land technology and bed and furrow irrigation technology revealed better crop yield and more efficiency in water use. Modern agricultural biotechnology could play a prime role in increasing crop productivity by developing higher yielding, and environmental and disease resilient crop varieties. Provision of smart phones to access weather updates and crop advisor services also contributed well in development of agricultural sector. Pakistan still is among those countries that have poor capacity in developing and adopting innovations relating to modern production techniques. It can be one powerful reason for poor agricultural performance of the country. It can be seen in the difference between traditional and progressive farmers where yield difference between average and progressive farmers in Pakistan is 40%.
Pakistan’s agricultural marketing system has transformed into a system, that protects vested interests of buddy capitalists, treats growers unfairly, and results in costly end product for consumers. The chain in the middle also known as farm-to-fork chain is very extensive, so the high prices of agricultural products do not benefit the producers and cause welfare losses to consumers.
Pakistan still is among those countries that have poor capacity in developing and adopting innovations relating to modern production techniques.
In Pakistan, the farming techniques are antiquated and are resulting in poor management of resources such as fertilizers, water and pesticides. Traditional farming techniques also risk environmental sustainability. There is an urgent need for investing our national resource and energies in innovations in agricultural technologies that can help in not only achieving climate agenda, but can contribute in remodeling supply-chain, helping the farmers getting best value realizations for their produce. Agri-tech can also help in better managing issues related to crop health, and helping farmers to directly connect with consumers by using digital modes instead of going through traditional mandi system. These agricultural technologies can realize two benefits-“a profitable farmer and an environmentally sustainable agro-economy’.
There is a dire need for revitalizing agricultural sector in Pakistan. There is a need to invest in human resource development, promoting problem solving research for agricultural sector. The focus should be directed away from broad based subsidies and only demand driven and need based subsidies should be prioritized. There is an urgency of drawing private investments in agricultural sector for shifting focus from subsistence farming to commercialization. Moreover, improvement in rural infrastructural links with cities, vocational training institutes in rural areas to increase efficiency of small farmers can help in invigorating agricultural sector.
There is an urgent need for investing our national resource and energies in innovations in agricultural technologies that can help in not only achieving climate agenda, but can contribute in remodeling supply-chain, helping the farmers getting best value realizations for their produce.
Agricultural sector challenges are posing serious concerns about our food security and if not properly addressed our poverty alleviation strategies will all go in vain. Moreover, manufacturing sector may face stagnation due to agricultural related issues and our trade deficit and balance of payments may increase if aforementioned issues are not adequately addressed. Only a competitive, prosperous and vibrant agricultural sector can guarantee thriving economy of Pakistan.
About The Author
Hassan Rizwan Chattha is a student of International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is focused on changing global Political and security dynamics and their widespread implications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47.