Aug 13 - 19, 2007


Agriculture is still the single largest sector of the national economy. It is the dominant driving force for economic growth and is the mainstay of 66 percent of the countryís population, accounting for 20.9 percent of the GDP and providing employment to 43.4 percent to the total workforce. The government has designated it as the engine of national economic growth and poverty reduction. It is the biggest raw material supplier to the countryís industry as well as a market for industrial products and also contributes substantially to the countryís exports earnings. Improvements in agriculture helps economic growth and simultaneously bring prosperity and eliminates pover. During the year, 2006-07 agriculture grew by 5.0 percent from 1.6 percent during the preceding year. The major crops witnessed strong recovery by growing at 7.6 percent against the negative growth of 4.1 (-4.1) percent.



































Source : Federal Bureau of Statistics

Wheat production was up by 10.5 percent during the year, 2006-07, quantifying 23.5 million tons. It was, of course, the highest wheat production recorded in the history of Pakistan. Likewise sugarcane production gave an improvement by 22.6 percent, measuring 54.8 million tons, second highest size of the crop in our history. Cotton crop at 13.0 million bales remained almost at the last yearís level, when it was 13.02 million bales. Rice production was at 5.4 million tons marginally less than the last yearís production of 5.5 million tons. However, because of high international prices, its export surpassed the preceding yearís earnings. Grams, pulses and other major crops exhibited an impressive growth of 75.4 percent in 2006-07 quantifying 0.842 million tons compared to preceding yearís production of 0.480 million tons due to increase in the intervention prices of the crop and timely rain-falls in Thal area where this crop is mainly grown. . Livestock with almost 50 percent share to agriculture performed reasonably well showing a growth of 4.3 percent as against last yearís strong growth of 7.5 percent respectively.

Sufficient water supply along with timely winter rains in Rabi season had a favourable impact on Rabi crops especially grams, masoor and wheat. Production of these crops increased by 75.4, 17.9 and 10.5 percent respectively as pointed out above.

The value added in major crops accounts for 36.3 percent of the value added in overall agriculture.

The problems being encountered by farmers are varied and many and poverty in the country is mainly rural based. Many suggestions were offered by different agriculturists forums, like Agri Forum of Pakistan, some of which are reproduced below for favourable response and resolutions of the problems faced by farmers, by the authorities concerned.

1- No agricultural tax should be levied on the land measuring 25 or less than 25 acres.. China has altogether waived tax on agricultural lands throughout the country. Thatís a very good precedent to follow.

2- International rate of wheat one year ago was Rs.527/- per maund. Some of our provincial governments have been admitting that our farmers are getting the price of wheat produced by them equal to their cost of production.

It means they are supplying wheat on no loss no gain basisî, leaving aside their overheads like labour services and the time spent by them from sowing to harvesting. On the governmentís call, our farmers gave 7.5 million tons increase in production of wheat during 2006-07 but they could hardly get price at Rs.415 per maund. Keeping in view the cost of the inputs and the international rate of wheat, the government should feel kind and considerate enough to fix the rate of wheat at Rs.500 per maund.

3-Similarly the rate of cotton (puthi)should be fixed at Rs.1300 per maund, rice (Basmati) at Rs.800 per maund, sugarcane at Rs.75 per maund and milk at Rs.20 per liter.

3-Cost of diesel, which is used in running tube-wells and tractors was very high. Consumption of diesel in agriculture is estimated to be 100 billion liters per annum, which costs 50 billion rupees. Green diesel rate should be fixed at Rs.25 per liter.

4- Although the government is making some interim arrangements for ensuring supply of irrigation water, especially by lining the water channels, it is not a viable and durable solution to increase our agricultural produce keeping in view the ever increasing population of the country. Instead of providing media coverage to Kala Bagh Dam and other mega dams, they should make these dams a reality to be seen on ground, as our neighbouring countries China and India have done. The cautions and warnings of UNO must be kept in mind and not to be slept over otherwise Pakistan is apt to pose Somalia like position for feeding its multiplying population.

5- Last year rate of DAP (on 24.09.2007) was Rs.1060. Today after subsidizing, its rate still stands at Rs.1060. This rate does not find any justification when 40 percent of this product is being manufactured within the country. The rate of DAP should not go beyond Rs.850 per bag. Similarly the rate of potash should be fixed at Rs.850 and that of Urea fertilizer at Rs.450 per bag. Fertilizers companies can conveniently bring down the rates by slightly decreasing their profits.

6-Electricity used for running agricultural tubewells is costing our farmers 30 billion rupees per annum. A scheme was announced for subsidy on the tube-well bills. However, its terms like timings of running the tubewells, installation of separate meters etc. were so funny and impracticable that farmers did not welcome this scheme. A suggestion has been made that tube-well electricity bills for agriculture should be fixed at Rs.2 per unit. The difference between the actual cost and billed rate may be borne by provincial and central governments.

7-The minimum price of a tractor should be Rs.2,50,000/- and that of 75 horse power tractor should be Rs.500,000.

8- Agriculture Research Centres like PARC should be shifted from Islamabad to and 50 percent representation of the Boards of these research centers may be provided to farmers.

9- Infra-structure like roads and communications from villages to the markets may be provided without delay so that role of middle man could be minimized.

10- Sprinkler and drip irrigation should be introduced on 500,000 acres of land every year.

11- Laboratories should be set up at union councils level for soil and water tests.

12-Improved and certified seeds of all major crops should be made available to farmers to increase the production. It is but deplorable that several years ago

15 to 30 percent certified seeds were provided and the position is still the same.

13- For boosting live-stock and dairy farming, 50 model farms should be set up every year in the country on 500000 acres of land, where high breed cows, buffaloes and bulls should be raised to produce 10,000 calves of high breed at every farm. These off-springs should be sold to farmers for further multiplications and production of meat, milk and other products.

14- Cholistan and Baluchistan have vast areas of land still to be used for increaseing our agricultural production. Schemes should be evolved to bring this land under cultivation for increasing our agricultural production and poverty alleviation. Farmers should be aided financially and provided necessary facilities, supply of irrigation water etc. as a gesture of goodwill.

15- The land under forests is decreasing miserably with the passage of time. Presently the area under forests is only 3 percent of the total land, which should otherwise be 20 percent. Every spring the Govzernment makes a lot of publicity for plantation and forestation. The need of the hour is that the government, N.G.O.ís ,social and private organizations all should individually as well collectively make concerted efforts to make a real achievement in this regard. It will not be out of place to mention that besides so many other benefits, forests ameliorate the land, make it more fertilize, control floods, water logging and salinity besides playing a useful role in environmental protection.