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Agriculture future is at risk over poor planning, vision and lack of support to farmers

Agriculture future is at risk over poor planning, vision and lack of support to farmers

Interview with Mr Nadeem Shah — Vice President, Sindh Abadgar Board

PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and your contribution for the betterment of the agriculture sector, please:

Nadeem Shah: I got involved in agriculture at the age of 17, way back in 1975 simultaneously continuing my education. I did my BSc (hons), DBS and MBA. My social activities comprise being Joint Chief CPLC Hyderabad, Member PCCC, Member Provincial Seed Council, Member Sindh Seed Corporation, Member Academic Council Agriculture University Tando Jam, Vice President National Reformers’ Forum and Vice President Sindh Abadgar Board.

I educate farmers every week without any hiatus and ensure monthly meetings to impart my knowledge to them for better production. I have arranged a number of exposure visits for farmers regarding different crops. I am very much into drip irrigation, biological control and organic farming. I am interviewed regularly for print and electronic media regarding agricultural activities and I have 114,000 members on Abadgar Board’s Facebook group.

PAGE: What benefits are there for the farming community in the recent budget?

Nadeem Shah: Federal budget has identified five points. One is specifically for Punjab agri markets. The remaining four are increased yield of major crops, water conservation, fisheries and livestock. But it is to be shared by provinces. Sindh and Federal governments are entangled in political rifts. There is no working relationship between them. How it is to be implemented, is a big question mark. Such steps of co-sharing weren’t delivered during the previous government’s tenure. While in budget it is not clarified how, when and where these points will be implemented in five years. There was no announcement for major crops support price. While provincial government budget despite having agriculture policy doesn’t have a clear vision. Lack of seriousness and different priorities by the federal and provincial government has led to a decline in the agriculture sector. I do not feel a farmer-friendly budget. It seems it has been designed by non-agricultural people.

 

PAGE: Could you tell us about the input cost for various crops?

Nadeem Shah: Input cost of various crops varies. Every input cost has soared right from sowing to harvesting. For last 5 to 6 years, prices of sugarcane, rice, wheat are stagnant. On the contrary, input cost is increasing. Even farmers are unable to get the support price. There is a big gap between cost of production and return.

PAGE: How do you see the future of agriculture sector of Sindh?

Nadeem Shah: I don’t see a good future of agriculture particularly in Sindh and in Pakistan in general. It is all due to improper planning, lack of transfer of technology at grass-roots level, water shortages, pre and post-harvest technology, inadequate financing, poor supply of quality seeds, fertilizers, pesticides in planting season, to name a few. Markets and exports are not being properly managed. At the time of major crop harvesting, free imports are allowed as is being done now for cotton import.

PAGE: Your views on the progressive farming in Sindh:

Nadeem Shah: It is all for progressive farmers. He cannot only survive but also compete. There is 20-50% yield gap between progressive farmer and general farmer. They hire and adopt the latest technologies such as drip, sprinkler, rain gun, laser leveling, drone pest scouting and spraying. Some progressive farmers are exporting fruits and vegetables to countries like USA, UK, Germany, Arab countries etc. One group has started online sale and delivery of fruits and vegetables in Karachi and is now planning to open farmers’ market and having different outlets in urban and rural areas.

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