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Sluggish agriculture outlook

International experts revealed that that in present years the growth rates of global agricultural production and crop yields have slowed. This has increased fears that the world may not be able to grow enough food and other products/commodities to ensure that future populations are sufficiently fed. However, the slowdown has occurred not because of shortages of land or water but rather because demand for agricultural products has also slowed. This is chiefly because global population growth rates have been falling since the late 1960s, and fairly high levels of food consumption per person are now being reached in many states, beyond which further rises will be limited. But it is also the case that a stubbornly high share of the world’s population remains in absolute poverty and so lacks the necessary income to translate its needs into effective demand. As a consequence, the growth in world demand for agricultural products is predicted to decline from an average 2.2 percent a year over the past 30 years to 1.5 percent a year for the next 30.res2pic1

In developing states the slowdown will be further dramatic, from 3.7 percent to 2 percent, partly as a result of China having passed the phase of rapid growth in its demand for food. The experts suggest that global agricultural production can increase in line with demand, offered that the necessary national and international strategies to promote agriculture are put in place. Global shortages are improbable, but serious issues already exist at national and local levels and may worsen unless focused attempts are made. The proportion of people living in developing states with average food intakes below 2200 kcal per day declined from 57 percent in 1964-66 to just 10 percent during 1997-99. Yet 776 million people in developing states remain undernourished— about one person in six.

Worldwide progress in nutrition is predicted to continue, in parallel with a reduction in poverty as projected by the World Bank. The incidence of undernourishment should decline from 17 percent of the population of developing states at present to 11 percent during 2015 and just 6 percent in 2030.

By 2030, three-quarters of the population of the developing world could be living in states where less than 5 percent of people are undernourished. Less than 8 percent live in such states at present. Undernourishment is a central manifestation of poverty. Presently, one in four people in developing states are living in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than US$1 a day. This proportion is down from almost one-third in 1990. But because of population growth the decline in numbers has been slower, from 1269 million to 1134 million.

 

The latest World Bank assessment to 2015 also suggests that such reductions in worldwide poverty could continue. Sub-Saharan Africa is the exception, however. Here the numbers of poor rose steeply during the 1990s and seem likely to continue to do so. Seven out of ten of the world’s poor still live in rural regions.

Furthermore, in Pakistan the performance of agriculture during FY2019 remained subdued. On the aggregate, the sector increased by 0.85 percent, much lower than the target of 3.8 percent set at the starting of the year. This under-performance of agriculture sector was chiefly because of inadequate availability of water which led to a drop in cultivated area and a drop in fertilizer offtake. The Government of Pakistan statistics showed that the crops sector experienced a negative growth on the back of fall in growth of important crops by (-6.55) percent. Sugarcane production fell by (-19.4) percent to 67.174 million tons, Cotton (-17.5 percent) to 9.861 million bales and Rice (-3.3 percent) to 7.202 million tonnes while production of maize crop rose by 6.9 percent to 6.309 million tonnes and Wheat growth was slightly higher (by 0.5 percent) to reach 25.195 million tonnes. Other crops having a share of 11.21 percent in agriculture value addition and 2.08 percent in GDP, explained growth of 1.95 percent mostly because of rise in production of pulses and oilseeds. Cotton ginning was fell by -12.74 percent because of fall in production of cotton crop. The government officials also showed that livestock having share of 60.54 percent in agriculture and 11.22 percent in GDP, maintained the growth at 4.0 percent against the target of 3.8 percent.

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The fishing sector having share of 2.10 percent in agriculture value addition (and 0.39 percent in GDP), increased by 0.79 percent, while Forestry sector having share of 2.10 percent in agriculture (and 0.39 percent in GDP) grew by 6.47 percent because of rise in timber production in KPK (by 26.7 percent to 36.1 thousand cubic meters). The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) in its meeting held in April, 2019 observed that water availability for Kharif and Rabi Crops for 2019-20 will remain sufficient which auger well for higher productivity of Rabi crops, and corresponding for better agricultural growth in 2020.

In last I would like to mention here, the growth in the agricultural sector has a crucial role to play in enhancing the incomes of poor people, by providing farm jobs and stimulating off-farm employment. The present Government of Pakistan has taken various initiatives to increase the agriculture productivity in country, so let hope for the betterment.

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