From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI
Jun 19 - 25, 2000
Pakistan has achieved a major break through this year in Agriculture
sector by ceasing to be an importer of wheat. Instead Pakistan will export over 1 million
tonnes which is surplus to its requirement for the year 2000-2001.
The Federal Food and Agriculture Minister, Shafqat Ali Jamote, proudly
announced a Press Conference in Islamabad last week, that wheat production this year has
been estimated at 21.5 to 22 million tonnes surplus to our domestic requirement by
1 to 1.5 million tonnes. "We will be exporting about 600,000 tonnes of wheat to
Afghanistan and are looking for potential buyers for the remaining surplus," the
Minister said adding that Pakistan would be saving about 150 to 200 million dollar which
it was spending on the import of wheat in the past. It would earn about 300 million
dollars through export of surplus wheat. We are now focusing attention on production of
oil seeds and within the next 2 years we will make country self sufficient in oil seeds
and save about 600 million dollar which we are presently spending on imports of oil, the
In order to protect the farmers from any decline in the prices, the
government has increased the procurement targets'. The government was fully alert and was
monitoring the market conditions and would not allow the farmers to suffer. The government
was improving the storage and distribution system. Federal government has asked the
provincial governments to soften the interdistrict movement of wheat. By and large the
farmers are getting Rs.300 for 40 kg of their wheat and the government would ensure that
they continue to get the same return, the minister added.
The bumper harvest of wheat is the result of a comprehensive package of
measures taken by the government to boost production. The most important incentive that
was provided to the farmer was in the form of a 25 per cent increase in procurement price
which was raised from Rs.240 per 40 kg to Rs. 300. It was done well in advance of the
sowing season, allowing farmers enough time to prepare maximum land for cultivation.
Secondly, cleaning and desilting of canals through the joint efforts of the army and the
farming communities, which made larger supplies of water available for irrigation,
contributed fairly to the achievement of the target. The monitoring of the distribution of
water was done by army personnel which made it certain that big farmers did not steal
water in excess of their allotted share and that the farmers at the tail end received
their due share. Thus the dividends of the increased yield have been widely and equitably
distributed. Thirdly, apart from water other inputs, like certified seeds, fertilizers and
credit were also made available in required quantities and at the right time.
The realization of the target of wheat production shows that if right
policies are adopted and their effective implementation is ensured, agriculture can play a
major role in getting the economy out of its straits much earlier than expected. If a
similar crash programme in respect of oilseeds is devised and put into operation, the
country can become self-sufficient in edible oil as well in a few years and imports can be
cut down by another over $ 600 to 700 million a year. A saving of over a $ 1 billion in
imports is certainly within reach from agricultural commodities within a short period of
two to three years provided policies and efforts are right and well coordinated and their
implementation is ensured. The example of wheat production shows that it is possible.
Experts are unanimous that the Agricultural sector has the required
potential to change the country's destiny in the first decade of the new millennium. It is
a matter of satisfaction that the present government has kept agriculture on top of its
agenda of economic development. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration of
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has prepared agricultural
strategies to be followed during the next 10 years.
While launching "Pakistan Agricultural strategies for the first
decade in the new millennium" at the United Nations information centre. Federal
Secretary Food and Agricultural Dr. Zafar Altaf said recently that the vision for
agriculture sector for 2010 is to achieve self-sufficiency in food, improve crop and
livestock productivity, promote sustainable development and conserve the resource base,
i.e. land, water and environment. The efficient management of land and water resources and
improving the availability of agriculture inputs will be the key elements for improving
agricultural productivity. This vision is to be realized through achievement of targets of
agricultural production set in the policy document.
The strategic policy options will be:
1) Higher growth rate of agriculture than the population
2) Food security and self-reliance in food crops.
3) Enhancing productivity of wheat, rice, oil seeds,
cotton and sugarcane.
4) Land and water development for a sustained
5) Agricultural inputs supplies and appropriate
technology to the farmers timely and at the user's end.
6) Balanced emphasis on all aspects of agricultural
production, including livestock, fisheries and forestry.
7) Improving marketing of agricultural commodities.
8) Emphasizing agricultural research to generate
innovative technology including biotechnology for raising productivity per unit of land,
water and livestock.
9) Improving the productivity of small farmers while
encouraging the large farmers for utilization of modern technology.
Agricultural Production: The production targets of various crops have
been worked out taking into account population growth, daily calories intake, the per
capita food demand, self sufficiency ratios and 5.0 per cent growth in agriculture.
Following target are fixed for the year 2010:
Wheat from 18.8 million tonnes in 1998-99 to 26.4 million
Rice from 4.6 million to 6.3 million
Maize from 1.7 million to 3.0 million
Pulses from 0.9 million to 1.5 million
Cotton from 8.8 million to 18.0 million bales.
Sugarcane from 55.2 million to 60.0 million
Oilseed from 3.6 million to 9.4 million
Fruits from 6.3 million to 9.8 million
Milk from 24.9 million to 34.3 million
Meat from 1.9 million to 2.7 million
Eggs from 5.9 billion to 14.1 billion.
Fish from 0.6 million to 1.1 million
Main tools to achieve the targets will comprise appropriate use of
agricultural inputs which include efficient use of water, increased and balanced use of
fertilizer, certified seed, and enhancing the pace of mechanization through the use of
agricultural machinery and Equipment.
"We have accordingly designed action plans for natural resources,
physical inputs, crops sector, horticulture/floriculture crops, livestock, fisheries,
small enterprises, institutional reforms, agricultural research, agricultural price
stabilization funds and agricultural marketing, the federal secretary agriculture told the
It may not be out of place to mention here that financial resources
would be required to implement the strategies. We will be striving to increase allocation
of financial resources from the annual Public Sector Development Programme from the
existing less than 1 per cent to 5 per cent by 2010. We also aim at increasing liquidity
with the farmers by introducing credit card scheme and thus increasing the institutional
credit. We also aim to take certain fiscal measures to decrease prices of agricultural
machinery and equipment in order to increase pace of mechanization in the country",
Dr. Zafar Altaf added.