FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN AGRICULTURE NEEDS ENCOURAGEMENT
Feb 23 - Mar 01, 2009
Despite positive response by the agriculture, which has produced better crops, this year there exists a lot of room for investment, and improvement in per acre yield to capitalize the available resources in the country.
All over the world, developing economies are looking for agriculture lands and financing heavily in the agriculture sector that has assumed a leading position in the world economy. Pakistan should also encourage foreign investment in the agriculture sector and utilize the untapped huge barren lands lying unused especially in the province of Balochistan.
In fact, the agriculture sector in Pakistan lacks research and development, new varieties of seeds in cash crops like rice, sugar cane, cotton and even in wheat, besides it is suffering from limited per acre yield and inefficient traditional system of irrigation, which is allowing precious water to go into waste.
Arrival of foreign investment in the agriculture sector would not only help infusion of latest and modern technologies but also boost per acre yield to the optimum level of the potential of rich lands of the country.
The only hitch is the law and order situation, which should be focused to tackle with in collaboration with the tribal chiefs for the good of their people and the country as well.
It is interesting to note that the United States of America, which is staunch supporter of the doctrine of globalization and World Trade Organization rules, is openly defying the order of the WTO with regard to removal of subsidies. It is the USA, which is providing all support and protection to its agriculture sector and the farmers who are unaware of the repercussions and implications of the world financial meltdown.
Why Pakistan should not care for its farming community and provide them all sort of assistance needed to allow this potential sector to steer out the economy out of the trouble.
It is the time to evolve policies in accordance with the domestic requirements and not to follow the so-called WTO, which has lost its charms after the collapse of the developed economies and the death of demand in the export markets.
CREDIT TO THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR
Disbursement of credit to the agriculture sector by commercial and specialized banks has increased 11.48 percent year-on-year to Rs 116.777 billion during the first seven months (July-January) of the current fiscal year (2008-09).
Agricultural credit disbursement, in absolute terms, rose by Rs 12 billion in July-January, 2009 period when compared with disbursement of Rs 104.755 billion during the same period of the last fiscal 2007-08.
Overall credit disbursement by five major commercial banks including Allied Bank Limited, Habib Bank Limited, MCB Bank Limited, National Bank of Pakistan and United Bank Limited stood at Rs 56.862 billion during July-January, 2009 as compared to Rs 50.520 billion during the same period of the last fiscal year, depicting an increase of Rs 6.34 billion or 12.55 per cent.
Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, the largest specialized bank, has disbursed Rs 32.928 billion in July-January, 2009 as compared to Rs 28.125 billion during the same period of the last fiscal year, while disbursement by Punjab Provincial Cooperative Bank Limited stood at Rs 3.283 billion in July-January, 2009 as compared to Rs 3.666 billion during same period last fiscal year. Besides, 14 domestic private banks also loaned a combined Rs 23.704 billion in July-January, 2009, up 5.61 percent when compared with Rs 22.444 billion disbursed in July-January, 2008.
It may be recalled that the State Bank of Pakistan has set an indicative credit disbursement target of Rs 250 billion for the agriculture sector for FY09, which is higher by Rs 50 billion or 25% than last fiscal year's target of Rs 200 billion and Rs 38 billion or 18% higher than the actual disbursement of Rs 212 billion in FY08.
PAKISTAN'S LIQUID FOREIGN RESERVES POSITION
The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at $ 10,371.1 million on 14th February, 2009. The break-up of the foreign reserves position is as under: -
|i) Foreign reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan:||$ 6,908.1 million.|
|ii) Net foreign reserves held by banks (other than SBP):||$ 3,463.0 million|
|iii) Total liquid foreign reserves:||$ 10,371.1 million|