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Agriculture sector: a declining performance

Agriculture sector a declining performance

Agriculture sector have a great role in the economic development and prosperity of Pakistan. In the early time, it is considered to be a dominant sector but due to the political, social, environmental and climate conditions its production yield is continuously going down. The rural transformation pace remained very slow resulted in problems like food insecurity, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy etc. It is very important that focus should remain on raising food production through efficient irrigation and innovative technology, agriculture diversification, agriculture support services, etc.

The macroeconomic stability is a fundamental pre-requisite for sustained economic growth. The country’s inability to achieve sustained and rapid economic growth is due to structural issues which require effective monetary and fiscal measures to achieve macroeconomic stability.

The outgoing five-year plan has seen an average growth of 4.7% against the target of 5.4%. It has also witnessed a subdued growth of 3.29% against the ambitious target of 6.2%. The target was based upon sectoral growth projections for agriculture sector at 3.8%. However, the actual sectoral growth turned out to be 0.85%.

Some of the major crops witnessed negative growth as production of cotton, rice and sugarcane declined by 17.5%, 3.3% and 19.4% respectively. The crops showing positive growth include wheat and maize which grew at the rate of 0.5% and 6.9% respectively. Other crops have shown growth of 1.95% mainly due to increase in production of pulses and oilseeds. Cotton ginning declined by 12.74% due to a decline in production of cotton crop. Livestock sector has shown a growth of 4.0%. The growth recorded for the forestry is 6.47% which was mainly due to increase in production of timber in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ranging from 26.7 to 36.1 thousand cubic meters.

The provisional GDP growth rate for FY2019 is estimated at 3.29% on the basis of 0.85, 1.40 and 4.71% growth in agricultural, industrial and services sectors respectively. The provisional agriculture sector growth is estimated at 0.85%. The crops sector has witnessed negative growth of 4.4% during FY2019 mainly due to negative growth of 6.6% of important crops. Production of cotton, rice and sugarcane declined by 17.5, 3.3 and 19.4%, respectively, while the wheat output posted a marginal growth of 0.5 % and production of maize grew by 6.9%. Other crops have shown growth of 1.95% mainly because of increase in production of pulses and oil seeds.

The poor performance of agriculture sector is due to reduction in the area of cultivation, lower water availability and drop in fertilizer utilization. The crops sector has witnessed negative growth of 4.43% against the target 3.6% on the back of decline in growth of important crops by (-6.55 %). Sugarcane production declined by-19.4% to 67.174 million tons, cotton 17.5% to 9.861 million bales and rice 3.3% to 7.202 million tons while production of maize crop increased by 6.9% to 6.309 million tons and production of wheat crop marginally increased by 0.5% to 25.195 million tons. Other crops having share of 11.21% in agriculture value addition and 2.08% in GDP, showed growth of 1.95 mainly due to increase in production of pulses and oilseeds. Cotton ginning declined by 12.74% due to decrease in production of cotton crop.

The gram production increased by 35.6% on account of higher yield due to favorable weather condition prevalent at the time of sowing. The production of bajra increased by 3.2%. The production of barley, rapeseed & mustard and tobacco remained constant while the production of jowar witnessed a decline of 2.6%. The production of onion and chillies witnessed increase of 2.0% to 2.12 thousand tons and 0.4% to 148.7 thousand tons respectively, as compared to production of last year. However, the production of pulse mash (lentil), moong and potato decreased by 5.5%, 3.4% and 0.3%, respectively compared to last year’s production. While the production of masoor pulse remained the same as last year’s production.

The total availability of water for the Kharif crops 2018 recorded 59.6 million acre feet (MAF), which means it remained short by 11.2% against the average system usage of 67.1 MAF and by 14.9% as compared to Kharif 2017. During Rabi season 2018-19, the total water availability was recorded at 24.8 MAF showing an increase of 2.5% over Rabi 2017-18 and a decline of 31.9% from the normal availability of 36.4MAF.

During FY2018-19 (July-March), the agriculture lending institutions have disbursed Rs. 805 billion which is 64.4% of the overall annual target of Rs. 1,250 billion and 20.8% higher than the disbursement of Rs. 666.2 billion made during corresponding period of last year. The outstanding portfolio of agriculture loans has increased by 15.5% to Rs. 70.7 billion by end March, 2019. Further, the agriculture outreach in terms of total borrowers has increased to 4.0 million, showing a rise of 8.2% over 3.72 million borrowers as of end June, 2018.



Ongoing mission

The present government’s resolution is to enhance agriculture productivity. In this connection Prime Minister’s Agriculture Emergency Program has been initiated which primarily focused on the productivity enhancement of wheat, rice & sugarcane, oilseeds enhancement program. The conservation of water through lining of watercourses is also planned. For better water management the command area of small and mini dams in barani areas are being enhanced. The shrimp farming, cage fish culture, trout fish farming and backyard poultry program are also in pipeline.

The present regime has initiated the Agriculture Emergency Program at the cost of Rs. 10,176 million, over a period of 05 years.

Three specific projects on “Productivity Enhancement of Wheat, Rice & Sugarcane” developed under Agriculture Emergency Program. Cost of wheat project is Rs. 19,301 million, Rice project is Rs. 11,433 million and Sugarcane project is Rs.3,912 million over a period of 05 years. A 50% subsidy is planned for mechanized farming as well as upgrading the crop processing methods and facilitate

Water is a life. Preserving water through lining of watercourses has been developed for lining upto 50% of total length of 73,078 watercourses (reconstruction & new) inclusive of 13,875 water storage tanks. This also includes laser land levelers, on 50% cost sharing basis government’s share to be capped at Rs. 250,000 per beneficiary. The total project cost is Rs.179,705 million over a period of 05 years.

The enhancing of command area of small dams in barani areas, will cost Rs. 27,700 million over a period of 05 years. This will improve the land and water productivity.

The water conservation in barani areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa project will cost Rs. 13,020 million over a period of 05 years. The Shrimp Farming project has been developed under Prime Minister’s Agriculture Emergency Program. Project cost is Rs. 4,842.78 million over a period of 05 years. Project Backyard Poultry Program is being developed under Prime Minister’s Agriculture Emergency Program. This project would cost Rs. 329.13 million over a period of 04 years.

Livestock having share of 60.54% in agriculture and 11.22% in GDP, maintained the growth at 4.0% against the target of 3.8%. The fishing sector having share of 2.10% in agriculture value addition (and 0.39% in GDP), grew by 0.79%, while forestry sector having share of 2.10% in agriculture (and 0.39% in GDP) grew by 6.47% due to increase in timber production in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (by 26.7 % to 36.1 thousand cubic meters). Pakistan has two cropping seasons, Kharif being the first sowing season starting from April-June and is harvested during October-December. Rice, sugarcane, cotton, maize, moong, mash, bajra and jowar are Kharif crops. Rabi, the second sowing season, begins in October-December and is harvested in April-May. Wheat, gram, lentil (masoor), tobacco, rapseed, barley and mustard are Rabi crops. Pakistan’s agricultural productivity is dependent upon the timely availability of water.

Fertilizer is the most important (and an expensive) input contributing 30 to 50% to crop yield. Its share in cost of production of major crops is around 10 to 15%. The domestic production of fertilizers during 2018-19 (July-March) increased by 2.6% over the same period of previous year. Therefore, total availability of fertilizer increased by 3.2% during current fiscal year. Total off take of fertilizer nutrients decreased by 7.3 %. Nitrogen off take also decreased by 2.89% and phosphate by 18.2%. Potash off take recorded an increase of 4.55% during 2018-19 (July-March). Reduction in fertilizers off take was mainly due to its high prices, despite receiving subsidy from the government.

Federal Seed Certification & Registration Department (FSC&RD) is an attached department of Ministry of National Food Security & Research which provides seed certification services as and when requested by public and private seed agencies and has annual plan for field crop inspection and seed testing. In order to ensure improved seed certification services, FSC & RD administration is working on various aspects for strengthening of field offices, international collaboration; new initiatives for further development (Gilgit-Baltistan Project, Establishment of Plant Breeder’s Rights Registry). Currently, FSC & RD is liaising with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) the leading agency for the inception of National Single Window Program. The prime goal of FSC & RD is to protect the farmer’s interest.

The domestic tractor industry has played a significant role in fulfilling the requirements of tractors to farmers. The number of operational tractors in the country is around 634,000 resulting in per acre horse power (HP) availability of 0.09 against the required power of 1.4HP per acre. During 2018-19 (July-March) total tractors production was 37,399 compared to the 52,551 produced last year. The major reasons of decline in the production of tractors are low sales because of filer condition for purchaser and also changing market dynamics/demand.

During monsoon season (July-September) 2018, the normal average rainfall was 140.9mm, while the actual rainfall recorded 96.1mm showing decline of 31.8%. During the post-monsoon season (October-December) 2018, the normal average rainfall was 26.4mm, while the actual rainfall recorded was 15.6mm showing decline of 40.9%. During winter season (January-March) 2019, the normal average rainfall was 74.3mm, while the actual rainfall recorded was 107.2mm showing increase of 44.3%. Over the years, livestock subsector has surpassed the crop subsector as the biggest contributor to value added in agriculture. Presently it contributes 60.5% to the overall agricultural and 11.2% to the GDP during 2018-19. Gross value addition of livestock has increased from Rs. 1,384 billion (2017-18) to Rs. 1,440 billion (2018-19), showing an increase of 4.0% over the same period last year. The importance of livestock sector can be realized from the fact that it is not only a source of foreign exchange earnings by contributing around 3.1% to the total exports, but also a source of 35-40% of income for over 8 million rural families and providing them food security by supplementing high valve protein of animal origin.

Poultry sector is one of the most vibrant subsectors of livestock sector. The current investment in poultry industry is more than Rs. 700 billion. This industry is progressing at an impressive growth rate of 8 to 10% per annum over last few years. Pakistan has become the 11th largest poultry producer in the world with the production of 1,163 million broilers annually. This sector provides employment (direct/indirect) to over 1.5 million people. Poultry today has been a balancing force to keep check on the prices of mutton and beef.

Poultry meat contributes 34% (1,518 thousand tons) of the total meat production (4,478 thousand tons) in the country. Poultry meat production showed a growth rate of 9.1% where as egg production showed a growth of 5.6% (19.0 billion Nos.) during 2018-19 as compared to previous year. Transformation of poultry production in controlled shed system is making a tremendous difference of quantity and quality of poultry production. There are now over 6,500 controlled environment poultry sheds in the country which indicates that our poultry sector is moving in the direction of modernization and using advance technology.

[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]The writer, Mr. Nazir Ahmed Shaikh is a freelance columnist and is an educationist by profession. Currently he is associated with SZABIST as Registrar and could be reached[/box]

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