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Home » Karachi

Agriculture remains backward sector of economy

June 11, 2019

KARACHI:Agriculture contributes 18.5 percent to country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides 38.5 percent employment to national labour force but it remains backward sector of the economy while high performing agriculture is a key to economic growth and poverty alleviation, according to a report by the Ministry of Finance.

Over the last decade, the performance of agriculture sector has fallen short of desirable level, mainly because of stagnant productivity of all important crops. Cropped area of the five traditional crops has also largely remained unchanged. Climate change also poses a serious challenge to Pakistan’s agriculture and threatens country’s water availability and food security.

The government is trying its best to help the farmers by providing agriculture inputs at affordable prices and ensuring better prices of their produce. To guarantee food security, it is necessary to enhance domestic agricultural production through increased productivity (increasing per acre yield).

Although Pakistan has rich production potential in agriculture, livestock and fisheries, yet for sustainable economic growth and prosperity, the development of these sectors on long-term basis is of fundamental importance for country’s growth and prosperity. This calls for efficient utilization of production resources by adopting modern technologies and establishment of realistic marketing system.

Agriculture Performance during 2018-19 The performance of Agriculture during 2018-19 remained subdued. On the aggregate, the sector grew by 0.85 percent, much lower than the target of 3.8 percent set at the beginning of the year. This under-performance of agriculture sector was mainly due to insufficient availability of water which led to a drop in cultivated area and a drop in fertilizer offtake.

The crops sector experienced a negative growth (-4.43 percent against the target of 3.6 percent) on the back of decline in growth of important crops by (-6.55) percent. Sugarcane production declined by (-19.4) percent to 67.174 million tons, Cotton (-17.5 percent) to 9.861 million bales and Rice (-3.3 percent) to 7.202 million tonnes while production of Maize crop increased by 6.9 percent to 6.309 million tonnes and Wheat growth was marginally higher (by 0.5 percent) to reach 25.195 million tonnes. Other crops having a share of 11.21 percent in agriculture value addition and 2.08 percent in GDP, showed growth of 1.95 percent mainly due to increase in production of pulses and oilseeds. Cotton ginning declined by -12.74 percent due to decrease in production of cotton crop. Livestock having share of 60.54 percent in agriculture and 11.22 percent in GDP, maintained the growth at 4.0 percent against the target of 3.8 percent.

The Fishing sector having share of 2.10 percent in agriculture value addition (and 0.39 percent in GDP), grew by 0.79 percent, while Forestry sector having share of 2.10 percent in agriculture (and 0.39 percent in GDP) grew by 6.47 percent due to increase in timber production in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (by 26.7 percent to 36.1 thousand cubic meters).

The agriculture growth is not consistent as observed over the decades. The rural transformation pace remained very slow resulted in problems like food insecurity, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy etc. It is very important that focus should remain on raising food production through efficient irrigation and innovative technology, agriculture diversification, agriculture support services, SME development in rural areas and creating small cities in rural areas.

The present government’s resolve is to enhance productivity and value change development. More R and D on seed varieties, improving resource use efficiency, promoting modern technologies, starting skill development Program to support rural enterprises is the need of time. Climate Smart Agriculture is an approach used worldwide focusing on enhancing agriculture productivity and incomes while simultaneously building resilience to climate vulnerability and changes.

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