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Post 18th Amendment: Dilemma of Agriculture in Balochistan

Nazir Ahmed Sajjidi

Agriculture and rearing of livestock is source of livelihood for majority foe people in Balochistan.  Nevertheless, it is the most neglected sector of Balochistan. Obsolete Research and extension infrastructure, dearth of agriculture Scientists particularly PhD degree holders, incompetent research and extension managers, widespread corruption, outdated irrigation system, frequent power outages,  high prices of seed, fertilizers and pesticides and lack of interest-free loan programmers for small farmers are the main problems agriculture is confronting in Balochistan.

The land in Balochistan is mostly dry, barren and water is scarce. Therefore, tube-wells are important for the agriculture productivity so Construction of dams and other reservoirs are the solution for the scarcity of water but for last 7 years no major dam has been constructed in province.

Not a single major dam has been constructed in Balochistan in last 7 years.

Under 18th Amendment, the federal agriculture ministry was abolished and  renamed as Minster of National Food Security & Research as a result, agriculture subject was devolved to the provincial governments but the provincial agriculture department being most inefficient and corrupt have further undermined or diluted the agriculture sector in the province.  Ever since, delegation of agriculture to the province, no policy has been framed by the provincial government to announce any subsidy to the farmers and announce loan packages for the farmers of Balochistan. Economy of the province as a whole relies on agriculture but the present government has fully neglected this sector.

The agriculture department is in name it has totally failed to make policy, planning for the improvement of agriculture sector. So far even no survey has been conducted to ascertain problems of agriculture and farmers in the province. The Balochistan Agriculture Department is one of the largest Departments in terms of manpower and budget. Notwithstanding, Merely Agriculture Extension wing has 586 Agriculture Officers and 1016 field Assistants, however, their input is nothing and they get salaries sitting at home. By and large, Agriculture Department’s role in improving agriculture infrastructure is almost none. Research institutes are pretty essential to help farmers to increase agriculture productivity but, unfortunately all research institutes in Balochistan are in name and no help or assistance is being given to the farmers of province. There is acute shortage of agriculture scientists in these research institutes due to indifference towards expenditures on producing PhD holder manpower within these institutes.

National Party government has failed to boost the economy of province. No significant dam has been built as a result underground water level is decreasing day by day. The load shedding issue was not taken up with federal government. Therefore, more and more land is becoming uncultivable in Balochistan. Consequently, large segment of population is falling in the vicious trap of abject poverty with disastrous consequences for province. Balochistan Agriculture Department was supposed to provide assistance to the farmers and modernize the sector with latest machineries and new methods of agriculture productivity. However, in spite of having extensive resources at the disposal of this Department, it has not played a significant role to help modernize this sector.

Agriculture Extension wing has 586 Agriculture Officers and 1016 field Assistants who do nothing and receive salaries at home.

Provincial agriculture Department has six establishments such as Agriculture engineering, Agriculture Research, Agriculture Extension, Agriculture on Farm water Management, Corp Reporting services and Cooperative Society. All these establishments are supposed to provide assistance to the farmers in their respective field but, farmers have not received an iota of support from any of these government institutions and farmers are facing plethora of problems that includes, financial constraints, lack of machinery and modern techniques, scarcity of water as well as many other planting, harvesting and marketing issues. The resources at the disposal of different wings of agriculture department are subjected to corruption, as a result, agriculture sector in Balochistan is suffering irreparably and farmers, who are the lynchpin and the main propellers of the agriculture growth, are falling in the trap of poverty. In the face of frequent electricity load shedding, the government should have focused on providing solar based tube wells to the poor farmers. It is pertinent to mention that huge amount is allocated under Provincial PSDP for solar based tube wells for deserving farmers. However, this amount, allegedly, goes into the pockets of parliamentarians and bureaucrats.

Agriculture engineering, Agriculture Research, Agriculture Extension, Agriculture on Farm water Management, Corp Reporting services and Cooperative Society are 6 establishment of Agriculture department.

A big chunk of water is wasted in obsolete irrigation system in Balochistan. The objective of  On Farm Water Management is to provide new techniques of irrigation to the poor and illiterate farmers regarding modern irrigation methods but On Farm Water Management is wholly dysfunctional therefore, it cannot introduce modern drip irrigation and sprinkle irrigation systems in Balochistan in order that to avoid huge chunk of water wastage in process of irrigation. Construction of new dams are the need of hour in order to decrease the tube wells for irrigation because tube well use in the long run causes salinity which we can observed in different areas of Balochistan where land has become uncultivable as a result of tube wells. Apart from rhetoric, this government could not constructed large dams in the province.

Agriculture engineering establishment of Agriculture Department is bestowed with pretty large allocation of funds and machinery but, this machinery is rarely used for making uncultivable land for cultivation. In the modern world, without modern machinery, the agriculture sector cannot be improved; it is petty that in Balochistan modern machinery is rarely used. The fault is of agriculture department that has failed to introduce modern techniques of productivity couple with modern machinery of agriculture productivity.

The agriculture productivity in Balochistan has significant potential to contribute in the GDP growth of the country if reforms introduce to promote and develop agriculture sector in Balochistan but due to government’s apathy, Balochistan’s full agriculture potential cannot be utilized. If vigorous agrarian reforms are introduced, the agriculture landscape of Balochistan can be changed and economy of the province can be reinforced by enhancing agriculture and economical productivity. However, question arises if this government has will and capability to take such a national task and complete it. The answer is not in affirmative.

Published in The Balochistan Point on September 28, 2015

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.

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