Pakistan & Gulf Economist

Amazing agriculture sector performance

Analysis of Economic Survey of Pakistan showed that agriculture is still the largest sector of the economy of Pakistan as its contribution to GDP has gradually declined to 19.3 percent, however, there is a lot of potential in the sector to increase its share in GDP through increased productivity utilization of latest agricultural technologies. Statistics showed that performance of Kharif crops during FY202; rice production grew by 2.9 percent to 7.410 million tons and maize production by 6.0 percent to 7.236 million tons while cotton production fell by 6.9 percent to 9.178 million bales and sugarcane production decreased by 0.4 percent to 66.880 million tons. Wheat is the most significant crop of Rabi, which showed growth of 2.5 percent and stood to 24.946 million tons. Other crops having a share of 11.53 percent in agriculture value addition and 2.23 percent in GDP, showed growth of 4.57 percent mainly because of rise in production of pulses, oilseeds and vegetables. Cotton ginning fell by 4.61 percent because of decline in production of cotton crop. The performance of agriculture during 2019-20 stayed extraordinary. On the aggregate, the sector registered strong growth of 2.67 percent significantly higher than 0.58 percent growth attained last year. During 2019-20, the total availability of water for the Kharif crops 2019 stood to 65.2 million acre feet (MAF) explaining a rise of 9.4 percent over 59.6 MAF of Kharif 2018 while it remained less by 2.8 percent against the average system usage of 67.1 MAF. During Rabi season 2019-20, the total water availability also stood to 29.2 MAF, explaining a rise of 17.7 percent over Rabi 2018-19 and 19.8 percent less than the normal availability of 36.4 MAF. Presently agriculture development is the major component of the second-phase of CPEC and both China and Pakistan are determined to exploit this sector for mutual benefit.

Statistics show that as many as 18 projects worth almost Rs 83 billion have been identified in agriculture sector under the multi-billion dollar CPEC project, with an aim to exploit its true potential and modernise it for the sustainable economic growth. Sources record that approximately 12 short, medium and long-term projects identified through the China-Pakistan Joint Working Groups (JWG) are related to Livestock Wing, Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R) and Livestock and Dairy Development Department, 6 projects are related to research and development to be executed by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council while one project has been identified for the establishment of Aquaculture Park in Coastal Areas of Pakistan. By these projects both the states would cooperate in the areas of capacity building, germplasm resources, agriculture product processing and technology extension. The other identified projects included uplifting of local agriculture sector counting fisheries, establishment of foot and mouth disease free zones, and market information also agricultural trade. It is also recorded that the short term projects would be completed in 2-year time whereas and medium also long term projects would be completed in 4-5 years timeframe. In order to promote bilateral collaboration in research and transfer of technology, Chinese side had also expressed its consent for offering financial assistance for the establishment of Center of Excellence at National Agriculture Research Centre on agriculture, livestock and fisheries.

The Government of Pakistan was keen to develop its research collaboration with Chinese institutions in order to improve per-acre crop output of all major crop including cotton, wheat, rice and in this regard the other side has also agreed for offering technical and financial assistance for the establishment of center of excellence on Central Cotton Research Institute Multan, besides the establishment of intelligent green house farming in Pakistan. Statistics show that the 7 projects to be executed through PARC included promotion of cherry cultivation on commercial Scale in Gilgit-Baltistan for taping the export potential to China, adding that this project would be completed within 5 years with a predicted cost of Rs, 1,200 million.

Globally, agriculture is undergoing massive transformation due to digitization, and developing states like Pakistan, who rely on agriculture as a critical pillar of economic and social growth, need to keep pace with the worldwide megatrends, to stay competitive and complete growing local as well as worldwide demand. This is only possible when all stakeholders step up for collaboration and mutually work for the development of advanced technologies and educate and incentivize farmers on the adoption of these technologies. Through adapting worldwide trends into the domestic agricultural sector, the government of Pakistan can raise the sector’s share to the GDP of Pakistan and not only meet local demand but also produce surplus to meet worldwide demand. Sources record that innovation in this sector offers immense potential to meet Pakistan’s food security needs considering the rapid expansion of the population and growing need to use Pakistan’s natural resources. Moreover this agriculture sector has taken a major setback because of bad governance and strategies in the past few decades. Unluckily Pakistan is facing various problems related to water security lack of crop health analysis, research and development, data, farmers education, absence of free market economy and climate change. It is said that the Government of Pakistan and private sector are taking multiple measures for the development of this sector, however, collaboration between all stakeholders is essential to bring about change.

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