Pakistan agriculture sector is facing numerous challenges today. Climate change, increasing population growth, lack of financing options for agriculture product business, high cost of agriculture production and transportation, local industry’s strong reliance on imported agriculture commodities are some of the prominent issues affecting Pakistan agriculture sector.
Pakistan is an agriculture-based economy and more than 50% of its population is directly or indirectly involved in this sector. However, the contribution of agriculture to GDP has been declining over the years.
What are the major problems for agriculture in Pakistan?
These are some of the main reasons why agriculture is not able to contribute more to Pakistan’s GDP. However, if these issues are addressed, the agriculture sector can definitely play a more significant role in the country’s economy.
1. Lack of irrigation facilities:
Only about 28% of the cultivable land is irrigated as compared to 80% in India. This is because of the lack of an efficient water management system and poor infrastructure.
2. Poor crop yields:
Pakistan’s average crop yield is 2 metric tons per hectare, which is much lower than the global average of 4 metric tons. This is mainly due to outdated farming methods, the use of obsolete technology and the shortage of quality seeds.
3. Unfair distribution of water:
Around 55% of the agricultural income comes from Sindh province, which contributes only about 28% to the agricultural output. Moreover, 80% of Pakistan’s agriculture is rain-fed. This indicates that climate change affects agriculture disproportionately in Pakistan.
4. Lack of agricultural reforms:
Although Pakistan has taken various initiatives for the development of agriculture since 1972, they lack proper implementation and monitoring mechanisms.
5. Lack of post-harvest infrastructure:
Farmers often do not store their products properly due to a lack of cold storage and storage facilities and sell them at lower than market prices as a result.
6. Regulatory issues:
The agriculture sector is plagued with corrupt officials and overloading fees which raises input costs for the farmers.
7. Limited access to financing:
Only a small percentage of the farmers have access to institutional finance which hampers their productivity.
Solutions/Steps taken to uplift the agriculture sector of Pakistan?
The government has taken various steps to address the problems faced by the agriculture sector in Pakistan. These include:
1. Irrigation reforms:
The government has undertaken various irrigation reforms such as the construction of dams and water reservoirs, the establishment of water regulatory authorities and the improvement of water distribution networks. These initiatives will help in improving water availability for agriculture.
2. Support for agriculture research and development:
The government has established various agriculture research institutes to develop improved seeds and farming techniques. This will help in increasing crop yields and improve the quality of agricultural products.
3. Provision of subsidies and incentives:
The government provides subsidies on fertilizers, pesticides, electricity and other input costs to promote agriculture production. It also offers interest-free loans to farmers and gives them price support for their crops.
4. Development of infrastructure:
The government is investing in the development of roads, bridges, cold storage facilities and other agricultural infrastructure to improve access to markets and reduce transportation costs.
5. Capacity building of farmers:
The government is providing training to farmers on agriculture technology and business skills. This is to enable them to improve productivity, diversify crops and identify new market opportunities.
6. Transfer of agricultural technologies:
The government has set up agriculture extension programs to transfer agriculture-related knowledge and techniques to farmers. This will help in improving crop yields and the quality of agricultural products.
7. Establishment of agriculture-based industries:
The government is encouraging the establishment of agriculture-based industries such as food processing plants, shrimp farms, fish farms etc. These initiatives not only provide employment opportunities but also improve agriculture output by processing agriculture surplus at low costs.
8. Technology transfer through foreign investment:
The government offers various incentives for foreign investors who are willing to invest in the agriculture sector in Pakistan including tax benefits, rent-free lands and other subsidies. This initiative is increasing agriculture investment in the country which will help it to develop the agriculture industry.
9. Improved transportation services:
The government is improving the existing road, rail and air transport systems for better access to agriculture products. This will also reduce their cost of transportation which will lower their input costs at the farms.
10. Increased trade with other countries:
The government has signed agreements with various agriculture exporting countries like China to increase exports of agricultural goods such as fruits, vegetables etc. Besides, Pakistan has joined several regional agriculture trading blocs like ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) and BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation) to increase its agriculture exports by establishing new markets.
The agricultural sector still contributes a significant amount to Pakistan’s economy by providing jobs to half of the population. However, various problems are hindering its growth. The government has taken various initiatives to address these problems and is encouraging foreign investment in the agriculture sector. This will help in developing the agriculture industry in Pakistan and improve its economic condition.
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