Agriculture imports rising at a worrying pace: Expert

KARACHI: Former President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Dr Shahid Rasheed Butt on Monday said agriculture imports are increasing at a worrying pace and the current year’s food imports are up three percent than the last year imports.


“Pakistan is spending 40 percent of its export earnings on import of agriculture products which is too much for a country with the best canal system in the world, he said in a statement. The neglected sector of agriculture needed serious reforms as it will not grow on the back of claims and promises and the import bill will continue to grow,” he said in a statement.


Butt said that policy of compromising agriculture for fancy megaprojects, which was being practiced for decades should be abandoned in the national interests. He said that sugarcane crop tops in wastage of water but it is being promoted on the cost of cotton which is a threat to the textile industry and the whole agriculture sector.


Butt said: “A provincial government is closing down departments related to agriculture development which should be noticed and reversed. Food products worth $7.55 billion have been imported during the first eleven months of this fiscal which include wheat, sugar, cotton, pulses, palm oil, milk, and dairy products.”


“The annual import of cotton has been estimated at two billion dollars resulting in total imports of agri products of 9.5 billion dollars which will be 40 percent of total exports. The government has claimed a bumper wheat crop but it has also decided to import thirty million tonnes of wheat costing one billion dollars which is amazing,” he added.


He said that the practice of smuggling three hundred thousand tonnes of wheat would continue unabated during the next fiscal, he said, adding that policy of reducing prices of cars and mobile phones and making food items costly was beyond understanding and highly unwarranted. He said that budget measures would increase the price of flour, sugar, milk, and dairy products putting an additional burden of billions on the masses which is unjustified.