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Food and agriculture – problems and challenges

Since the independence of Pakistan, the food and agriculture sector has been engaged in recreating its economy successively. In the initial years, the food and agricultural sector was considered as the most dominant sector among others. Unfortunately, in last few decades the outcome of this sector has witnessed a decline which is due to numerous social, political, economical and environmental factors. Therefore, the production yield of this sector has been gradually lowering hence making it the second largest sector of Pakistan. This sector consists of 21% of GDP and over 45% labor force is engaged with food and agriculture in Pakistan. In terms of statistics, the agriculture sector has well-built link with the economy of Pakistan. Approximately, 63% of total population is residing in the rural areas of Pakistan which are directly or indirectly linked with the food and agriculture sector. This sector is also accountable for being key supplier of raw materials to the downstream industry that is undoubtedly contributing to the export business. Pakistan is the largest market in terms of industrial production parts e.g. tractors, pesticides, fertilizers, and agriculture equipments.

Being the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, the agriculture sector basically relies on its major crops. Sadly, there are huge gaps between the required and actual output of manufacturing in this industry because of several factors e.g. inappropriate technology, unavailability of land and water use, use of inputs at wrong time, and lack of adequate awareness regarding pest control. For these reasons, the production in this sector has been negatively affected which in result is reducing the amount of manufacturing. The major agricultural crops include wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, vegetables and fruits. The irrigation system of Pakistan is remarkably known as world’s largest system to support agricultural manufacturing. Pakistan has two seasons for agricultural production e.g. wheat crop extends from November to April whereas crops such as rice, cotton and sugarcane starts from May and are harvested in November.

In terms of economic development, agriculture contributes in several aspects e.g. contributing to National Income, provisions of surplus, source of food supply, shift of human force, development of infrastructure, prerequisite for raw material, essential for reducing inequality, significant in reducing economic depression, relief from capital shortage, develop efficient demand, source of foreign capital for the country, employment opportunities for people in rural areas, contribution in capital formation, and extending market for industrial output.

In terms of manufacturing wheat, Punjab is known as the irrigated province which has historical emphasis on a green revolution for wheat. Pakistan is also the major exporter for rice as approximately more than 2 million tons of rice is exported annually (almost 10% of global trade). There is a need to adopt modern farming techniques to enhance the yield capacity in Pakistan. Although, a lot of measures had undertaken in past but the output suggests that the focus is still missing from a wide margin. Pakistan has not been sufficient enough in terms of utilizing advanced techniques and tools for agriculture sustainability. A large number of farmers are not acquainted with the advanced technology though some progressive landowners are familiar with modern methods. Pakistan is one of the key export country for agriculture products to several countries e.g. Europe, America, and the Middle East. It is estimated that the exports can provide outcomes with higher yield, safety and world-class quality which can solve all economic woes for the country.

 

A number of commendable endeavors can be utilized e.g. use of drones, solar-powered tube wells, and significant agricultural lending amounting sum of trillion rupees. The solar-powered tube wells are witnessed to bolster traditional farmers with a noticeable extent in order to reduce the cost of production. Moreover, the use of drones can prove helpful in order to apply pesticides on crops, and monitoring pests, weeds and nutritional deficiencies. It can provide higher outcome if the focus is kept intact and the utilization of technology gets the required yield round the year.

There are a number of problems and challenges for food and agriculture sector in Pakistan such as limited cultivable area, poor financial status of farmer, lack of access to advanced agricultural technology, insufficient infrastructure, old method of agricultural production, low per hectare yield, salinity and water logging, low cropping force, malfunctioning land reforms, lack of irrigation facilities, unprofitable land holdings, insufficient supply of agricultural inputs, reprehensible crop rotation, low cropping force, natural calamities and several plant diseases etc.

Several measures can be taken to educate traditional farmers such as ongoing training programs regarding the climate-smart agriculture in order to enhance the yield capacity of this sector. As, some farmers not intend to adopt modern methods and technology due to the cost therefore the agricultural loans provided by banks can play a helpful role. Although, the World Bank has given millions of dollars loan to Pakistan so that the food and agricultural sector can be modernized yet the process looks capital-intensive.

In this regard, it is high time to comprehend that agriculture is the foundation of Pakistan’s economy therefore the cultivable land with severe shortage of water should be addressed immediately. The food and agriculture sector consists of numerous employees which are almost half of the population and make a remarkable contribution around a quarter to the GDO of Pakistan. Furthermore, the government needs to address where the country must stand in coming years in relevance to its agricultural revolution so that the desired output can be derived from this sector. Furthermore, there is an urgent need to upgrade and improve the production of this sector through effective utilization of land and water resources.

Hence, the government of Pakistan needs to attentively provide more focus on its food and agricultural sector in order to overcome the above mentioned challenges which will ultimately result in more yield performance and economic output from this sector.

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