By Mohsin Ali
Economy of every state depends on three sectors i.e agriculture, industry and commerce. These three are interrelated with each other as the progress or retrogress of one sector effects the other two. Pakistan is an agricultural state thus agriculture gains are of much importance than any other sector. Importance of this sector is manifold as it feeds people, provides raw material for industry and is a base for foreign trade. Foreign exchange earned from merchandise exports is 45% of total exports of Pakistan. It contributes 26% of GDP and 52% of the total populace is getting its livelihood from it. 67.5% people are living in the rural areas of Pakistan and are directly involved in it. There are two crops in Pakistan ie Rabi & Kharif.
Crop | Sowing season | Harvesting season
Kharif | April – June | Oct – Dec
Rabi | Oct – Dec | April – May
Major crops of Pakistan are wheat, rice, maize, cotton and sugar cane. These major crops contributed 7.7% last year against the set target of 4.5%. Minor crops are canola, onions, mangoes and pulses which contributed 3.6% as there was no virus attack last year. Fishery and Forestry contributes 16.6% and 8.8% respectively.
Though the agricultural sector is facing problems in Pakistan yet the major chunk of money comes from this sector. Following are the major causes of agricultural problems in Pakistan which disturb the agricultural growth or development in Pakistan.
Firstly,No mechanism has been adopted to eradicate the soil erosion and even after harvesting nothing is done to improve or restore the soil energy. Therefore, the fertility of soil is decreasing day by day. The thickness of fertile layer of soil in Pakistan is more than 6 inches but the average yield is lower than other countries where layer of fertile soil is only 4 inches.
Secondly, water wastage is very high in our country. The archaic method of flood irrigation is still in practice in whole of the country which wastes almost 50 to 60 percent of water. A new irrigation system called drip irrigation system has been introduced in many parts of the world. This not only saves water but also gives proper quantity of water according to the needs of plants.
Thirdly, owing old methods of cultivation and harvesting, Pakistan has low yield per acre that means the average crop in Pakistan is just 1/4th of that of advance states. Where as Nepal, India and Bangladesh are using modern scientific methods to increase their yield per acre. For this purpose, these states are using modern machines to improve their yield.
Fourthly, the small farmers are increasing in our country as the lands are dividing generation by generation. So, there are large number of farmers who own only 4 acres of land. These small farmers do not get credit facilities to purchase seeds, pesticides, fertilizers etc. Additionally, a large area of land is owned by feudals and the farmers who work on their lands, are just tenants. This uncertain situation of occupancy neither creates incentive of work nor does attract capital investment.
Fifthly,water logging and salinity is increasing day by day. No effective measures have been taken to curb it. As the storage capacity of the dams is decreasing so the water availability per acre is also decreasing. Therefore, the farmers are installing more and more tube wells to irrigate their crops. This is why salinity is becoming the major issue in most parts of Punjab and Sindh.
Sixthly,focusing more on land, crops and yield problems the man behind the plough is always ignored. While formulating the 5 or 10 years plan, no emphasize has been laid on the importance of solving the problems of farmers. Most of the farmers are illiterate, poor and ignorant. In this wake the loans issued by ADBP or other banks are used by them in other fields like repayment of debts, marriage of daughters etc, in spite of its befitting use in agricultural sector.
Lastly, The only mean of communication in rural areas is T.V or radio so it is urgently needed on the part of these mass communication resources to air the programmes related to the new agricultural techniques and allied sciences. But these programmes should be telecast in regional or local languages. Because lack of guidance is the main reason of farmers backwardness. The communication gap between well qualified experts and simple farmers have not been bridged. Availability of these experts is not ensured in rural areas as they are reluctant to go there.
Pakistan is rich in fertile land yet the land is being wasted in different ways. 79.6% million hectors of land is culturable where as only 20.43% million hectors is cultivated. The reason can be described in two points.
- A major area is owned by feudals. It is difficult to manage such a huge area so only that part is cultivated which is easy to manage, the rest is left ignored.
- The rise of industrialization has given threat to this sector. People are migrating to cities and cities are expanding, thus new towns and colonies are constructed on fertile lands.
The irrigation system of Pakistan needs improvement as about 67% of the land is irrigated with canals.
Apart form these issues the monopoly of Foreign Big Wigs and false policies of government cannot be ignored.
Monopoly Of Foreign Companies: The pesticides companies are sorting partnership with “World Bank”. These companies are selling adulterated but expensive pesticides to a poor farmer thus leaving him helpless. These pesticides are not only hazardous for health but also a filling the pockets of companies. By moving according to world bank these companies are gaining their own aims. Moreover there is a conflict of interests. It is not ensured that either the company conducting agreement is basically trying to get access to international market or just working according to their aims.
91% of genetically engineered (GE) seeds is made and owned by one US Company called Monsanto. The vast majority of consumers around the world are against GE foods and crop as GE has been associated with health risks, loss of biodiversity, increased use of toxic weed killers and other environmental problems. 85% of GE crops are concentrated in just 3 countries i-e United States, Argentina and Canada. Globally G.E crops cover less than one percent of arable land. Farmer around the world have experienced problems with Monsanto’s BT cotton. Researchers from Cornell University reported that Chinese GM cotton farmers are losing money due to secondary pests. After seven years, populations of other insects such as mi rids, have increased so much that farmers are now having to spray their crops up to 20 times per season to control them, according to the study of 481 Chinese farmers in five major cotton producing provinces.
This cotton seed does not show any resistance against virus attacks and needs 8 months to give yield thus no other crop can be cultivated on that land. This seed of cotton needs more water. Therefore, Pakistan has asked Monsanto to provide seeds which consume less water as Pakistan is moving towards the abyss of water shortage. It is a notorious organization that took the farmers to courts many times as it did not give ownership right to farmers to preserve seed. Even the seed of harvested crop cannot be used again for cultivation. Monopoly of Monsanto is clear when it is selling seed at RS 1700 per kg to Pakistan and RS 700 per kg to India. Glaringly, the Indian ministry of health asking to ban B.T cotton seed whereas in Kerala & Orrisa it is already banned. Not to ignore the gloomy side of this organization is that in the Vietnam where it provided “Agent Orange” dioxin bomb to U.S that is responsible for sever skin and genetic diseases.
Non-comprehensice Policies Of Pakistan:18 billion in budget was allocated for agricultural sector of Pakistan but the withdrawal of subsidy on pesticides and electricity on the conditions of IMF has done serious damage to this sector. Whereas America and European Union are giving a huge amount of subsidy to their farmers and that is a greatest hurdle in the implementation of W.T.O rules. Additionally, price policy is very weak. In Punjab sugar cane is sold 200 Rs. per 40 kilograms. It was purchased and later on stocked by Industrialist in their stores. When Brazil bought sugarcane from International Market and prices become high, the Pakistan sugar mills owners projected demand of selling sugar at high prices, thus Pakistan faced sugar crisis. Then Pakistan had to import Sugar at high prices therefore, the prices of sugar went high in local markets.
Solutions For Agricultural Problems In Pakistan:
- Feudalism should be abolished and lands should be allotted to poor farmers. This will enhance the productivity and per acre yield of all the crops in Pakistan. Taxes should be levied on Agricultural income but not without devising limit of land holding. Other wise it would directly effect poor farmers.
- Federal Seed Certification and Federal Seed Registration is approved but it should taken responsible steps in approving seeds as it has already approved 36 new kinds of seeds. Specially, those seeds should be banned which can create pest problem in near future. These seeds are of cotton mainly. International seed makers are providing those seeds which are not successful in our country as these seeds are not tested on our soil.
- A new Agricultural policy must be framed in which following steps should be focussed on.
- Small farmer must be focused. The major problems of small farmers should be solved first.
- Consumer friendly policy must be projected.
- Productivity enhancement programme must be constituted to adjust and support prices.
- Different Agricultural zones should be introduced. As Multan in famous for its Mangoes and citrus fruits so it must be made Mango, citrus zone by which Perishable products should be exported. This would enhance agro based industry and increase foreign reserves. Pakistan Agricultural storage & Services Corporation needs to take steps in this regard.
- Corporate farming like giving lands to Mitehels, Nestle and Multinational companies is also a good idea that will also help those who own a large area of fertile land but can’t manage it.
- Surplus vegetables and fruits must be exported. A Rs 39 million scheme has been approved for the current fiscal year for establishment of agro export processing zone for fruits, vegetables and flowers. This will also help in commercializing agriculture
- Latest mechinery should be provided to the farmers to increase the per acre yield. This provision should be on easy installments so that the farmers can avoid the burden of loans. If possible subsidy should be given by the government of modern machinery.- Modern techniques of irrigation can solve the problems of irrigation in Pakistan. This includes drip irrigation and sprinkle irrigation methods. By using this technique the farmers can save a huge some of money which he pays for irrigation through tubewells and tracktors.
- More dams should be constructed on Indus, Jehlum and Chenab rivers. This will enhance the storage capacity of water and reduce the per acre cost of all the crops. This step will also reduce the salinity chances of the lands as less tubewell water will be flooded to the lands which cause salinity.