Realising land potential

Post Source: Dawn Economic & Business Review

 

If the government cherishes the desire to move forward towards sustained self-sufficiency in food sector, it will have to move away from the syndrome of promises outpacing performance. It will have to develop a workable stratagem, plugging crannies and crevices in the agriculture sector. - File Photo.

 

 

By Ibrahim Lakhiar

 

Pakistan is a divinely blessed country with vast swathes of fertile land and perennially flowing waterways, that traverse and criss-cross its heartlands, flanking silt-laden and gold-growing soil on either side.

A bird`s-eye view of the sector would reveal that a lot of land has been brought under the plough. The credit for this task squarely goes to growers. The input of the government has been minimal. Growers` single-handed endeavours have born fruit in converting barren lands into blooming fields.

Despite ceaseless efforts of growers, most of the land, especially in Sindh, is not properly developed. A cursory glance at the expanse of lands would be met with repelling looks. Looks look abhorrent, when the land is viewed during the period falling between harvesting of one crop and growing of another.

These repelling looks emerge from the uneven surface of lands, massive amassing of unwanted heaps of earth in its bosoms and the thick and clumsy embankments of minors and tributaries.

If the bonded land under the occupation of unwanted earth is retrieved for cultivation, it may amount to a slew of `ghuntas` in almost every `survey number` of the land. The released area at national level could add up to multiple thousands of acres, which could yield many more maunds of crop yield, touching fancy figure in every cropping season.

Unlevelled land, when flooded, develops depressions and forms puddles. The stagnant water in pools affects crops` growth. Similarly earth in heaps and embankments deprive the grower of additional space of fertile land for cultivation.

Attractive ambience offers added incentive to stay put in the place. Well developed land would not be an exception to this rule. Farmers loitering in the land leisurely would not tolerate weird growth of weeds. They would uproot the same to enable the neighboring plants to sprout luxuriantly. Acceptability of the clean marketable surplus would then be enhanced at first glance.

Handicapped by resource constraints, the growers cannot be expected to hire privately-owned and highly-rented heavy machinery to level the land and remove the dunes. The condition of the government-owned rickety bulldozers leaves a lot to be desired. Their condition is too bad to complete the assignment, confronting countless breakdowns and leaving the growers in the lurch. As for big wigs, they have myriad of resources to beef up their bulging bank balances, caring little to develop the land that could at least benefit the back-bared toilers on their lands.

Retrieving land from the jaws of earth dunes and leveling do not beg billions of rupees from the government to purchase necessary equipment. Infra-structure to assimilate the equipment already exits at district level. What is required is shopping the bulldozers and laser equipment from some friendly foreign country.

In the on-going episode of engagements with the US, a window of opportunity has opened in the flagship aid programme on non-military side under the Kerry-Lugar-Bremman Act. One of the components of the aid package relates to agriculture. If the embedded wisdom of the American is to be trusted, the US government can pick up the tab without involving the GoP functionaries undertaking detailed extra homework to convince them about the advantages of the requisition. A caveat can, however, be appended to ask the Americans to provide brand new machinery and not over-hauled junks.

If the government cherishes the desire to move forward towards sustained self-sufficiency in food sector, it will have to move away from the syndrome of promises outpacing performance. It will have to develop a workable stratagem, plugging crannies and crevices in the agriculture sector.

For optimal utilisation of land potential, creation of conditions on the surface of the soil is significant. The deficiencies high-lighted may look perfunctory, over-hyped or not appealing, but viewed contextually, these would prove to be a driving force to further maximise production, following enhanced interest of the farmers due to creation of pleasing condition of ambience on the place of work.

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