KARACHI: Pakistan agriculture needs a major transformation if it has to significantly contribute towards the improvement of livelihoods of the population as well as macroeconomic welfare and prosperity, says new Pakistan Economic Survey 2013-14.
Pakistan agriculture and food security concerns remain high on the policy agenda at national level. Due to concerted actions, the performance of agriculture has been encouraging with growth of 2.1 percent during 2013-14. Accelerated agricultural growth directly helps in redistribution of poverty and provides the farmers a required level of nutritious food. It is the well intended/focused efforts by the government to exploit maximum benefit from this sector. Food security requires achieving self-sufficient quantity of nutritious grains/staple food.
The prosperity of a large fragment of community revolves around agriculture that requires timely and adequate inputs, ensures better environment for sustainable economic growth. Government is trying to modernize agriculture sector to increase production which in turn can help in achieving sustainable economic growth. Pakistan’s agriculture sector involves 43.7 percent of labour force that produces their own food needs and ensures availability of food for the rest of nation and value-added activities.
The potential role for agriculture in development is to reduce poverty and drive growth for countries whose economies are agriculture-based. Growing population size requires agriculture growth compatible to meet required level of food. The change in consumption pattern with a change in per capita income level requires more proteins containing diet. The transition of agriculture from traditional to modern farming techniques is based on adequate availability of inputs like certified seeds, balanced use of fertilizers, mechanization, agricultural credit and opportunities of investment in agricultural research.
The achievement of better productivity requires efficient utilization of water resources while the static cropping pattern requires serious attention as well. The adverse impact of climatic change on productivity needs to be countered through adaptation and mitigating measures based on innovations and diversifications by inculcating farming community to adopt advanced techniques. The way forward is to raise the yield of crops along with livestock and fisheries production, and improve the agro-based industrial value addition.
The improved road and communication infrastructure in rural areas has facilitated the farmers to tap more income from production cycle of crops, livestock and perishable items (vegetables and fruits) through improved supply chain. Traditional and modern supply chains, now a days are providing consumers in urban and rural areas with available, accessible, diverse and nutritious foods regionally and globally.
Efficient supply chains, with better year-round availability of a wide variety of fresh, processed, packaged food according to the requirements as much as economically possible. Agricultural research must continue to enhance productivity, while paying greater attention to nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and animal products and to more sustainable production systems. The increased competitiveness and concept of market economy requires improved supply chains. As the economy grows it direly requires timey availability of important inputs under market based activities.
A strong food supply chains ensures availability of perishable food items without destroying its nutrient. A well planned food supply chain (cold chains for perishables vegetable and fruits) helps to overcome wastage and may reduce the rent seeking by timely availability of food items though out the country. Improved infrastructure facilitates and adoption of latest logistic (cold chain model for travel/shelf time for perishable items) within and outside the country. Being agrarian economy advanced and improved freight and logistics facilities may be potential source of import/export through cold chains.
The government is determined to achieve the required production targets through collective actions by focusing on improving agricultural planning and policies, scaling up investment to implement these plans and policies with provincial coordination based on well-crafted National Agriculture and Food Security Policy; a framework guiding policies, strategies and actions for agricultural development and transformation. The policy is instrumental in raising the profile of agriculture at the centre of development agenda at national level.
These positive indicators of inclusive growth as advocated by ensuring the timely availability of inputs, requiring sustained and concerted actions and efforts in application of quality policies, strategies, programs and investments driven by effective implementations. It is therefore, desirable to say next era will build on this momentum to deliver in an accelerated manner, positive changes towards prosperity that directly impact on livelihoods of Pakistani citizens through an inclusive agricultural transformation process. Other crops that contribute 11.6 percent value addition in agriculture witnessed a decline of 3.5 percent during 2013-14 against positive growth of 6.1 percent during the same period last year that is due to decrease in production of pulses, vegetables and fruits.
The cotton ginning witnessed a decline of 1.3 percent in its growth against the negative growth of 2.9 percent during the same period 2012-13. The Livestock sector which contributes 55.9 percent in the agriculture exhibited a growth of 2.9 percent in 2013-14 based on Livestock Census 2006. The Fishing sector showed a growth of 1.0 percent having a share of 2.0 percent in agriculture value addition as against last year’s growth of 0.7 percent. Forestry sector posted a growth of 1.5 percent this year as compared to growth of 1.0 percent last year.