By: Najeebullah Khan Tareen
In the agrarian society of Pakistan, the agriculture sector is indispensable economic sector of our economy. Significance of this sector is myriad as it provides food for populace, raw material for industrial sector and integral contribution to export of Pakistan.
The Foreign Exchange which is earned from this sector is 43% of total exports of Pakistan. It also contributes 20% of GDP and 44% of total labor force is engaged in this sector. In Pakistan about 60% population is living in rural area and it directly or indirectly sticks to this sector. Its major crops are wheat, rice, maize and by exporting these items it contributed 9% of GDP last year. This sector is biggest contributor of GDP but it is confronting most serious issues and there is dire need of reforms in order to reinvigorate this sector.
While highlighting its issues the first and the foremost is scarcity of water. The water issue has remained eroding factor since the inception of Pakistan. Indus water is considered as backbone of our agriculture sector because it provides 90% water to irrigation. Unfortunately, due to inexorably increasing population of Pakistan the Indus River water is not sufficient.
The electricity outages are also posing grave threat to the agriculture sector. Due to shortfall of electricity the farmers are compelled to use diesel as alternative to run the machines. Because of long hours load shedding the production has reduced to unimaginable ratio. There is also dearth of technological advancement in the sector; still the primitive methods are harnessed for the cultivation of crops, there are no pesticides, no advanced and quality seed. In the rural areas of Sindh and Punjab peasants still plough the land by arduous labor of animals.
The anomalous change in weather has also further worsened the situation. In the southern areas of Balochistan like Jaffarabad, Naseerabad and Sibi, there is unforeseen rain when the crops are ready for harvest. The soil erosion is also on of devastating factor in the agricultural sector. There in Sindh the million hectors of lands along the Indus River has become cultivable because of soil erosion.
The farmers are beleaguered segment of society because they always stuck in the quagmire of problems. The aforementioned plethora of problems and impediments are halting progress of agriculture sector. There is dire need of building small and big Dams in order to store water. The government should convene All Party Conference to resolve issue of controversial Kalabagh dam which is palatal reservoir of water. The land reforms should to introduced like which were introduced in past in Ayub era (Green Revolution) and Z.A Bhutto era but it should be implemented with a great zeal. By only prudent and vigilant stakeholders we can mitigate the miseries of indigenous farmers and they can ameliorate there pathetic condition. Pakistan is agro based country and problems and problems related to this sector pose serious threats to faltering economy of the country. In the long term this situation is alarming due to recklessness of incumbent government. By adopting practical solutions and suggestions will definitely increase agriculture GDP of Pakistan.
Published in The Balochistan Point on April 2, 2017