Economy of every state depends upon 3 sectors i.e. agriculture, industry and commerce. These three are interconnected with each other as the progress or retrogress of one sector effects the other two. Pakistan is an agricultural state thus agriculture gains are of much importance than any other sector. Importance of this sector is manifold as it feeds people, provides raw material for industry and is a base for foreign trade. Foreign exchange earned from goods exports is 45% of total exports of Pakistan. It contributes 26% of GDP and 52% of the total public is getting its livelihood from it. 67.5% people are living in the rural areas of Pakistan and are directly involved in it.
There are two crops in Pakistan i.e. Rabi & Kharif.
Major crops of Pakistan are wheat, rice, maize, cotton and sugar cane. These major crops contributed 7.7% last year against the target of 4.5%. Minor crops are canola, onions, mangoes and pulses which contributed 3.6% as there was no virus attack last year. Fishery and Forestry contributes 16.6% and 8.8% respectively.
Though the agricultural sector is facing problems in Pakistan yet the major chunk of money comes from this sector. Following are the major causes of agricultural problems in Pakistan which disturb the agricultural growth or development in Pakistan.
Firstly, No mechanism has been adopted to eradicate the soil erosion and even after harvesting nothing is done to improve or restore the soil energy. Therefore, the fertility of soil is decreasing day by day. The thickness of fertile layer of soil in Pakistan is more than 6 inches but the average yield is lower than other countries where layer of fertile soil is only 4 inches.
Secondly, water wastage is very high in our country. The outdated methods of flood irrigation are still in practice in whole of the country which wastes almost 50 to 60 percent of water.
Thirdly, owing old methods of cultivation and harvesting, Pakistan has low yield per acre that means the average crop in Pakistan is just 1/4th of that of advance states. Whereas, Nepal, India and Bangladesh are using modern scientific methods to increase their yield. For this purpose, these states are using modern machines to improve their yield.
Fourthly, Exploitation and plight of small farmers: the small farmers are increasing in our country as the lands are dividing generation by generation. So, there are large numbers of farmers who own only 4 acres of land. These small farmers do not get credit facilities to purchase seeds, pesticides, fertilizers etc. This uncertain situation of occupancy neither creates incentive of work nor does attract capital investment.
Fifthly, water logging and salinity is increasing day by day. No effective measures have been taken to control it. As the storage capacity of the dams is decreasing so the water availability per acre is also decreasing. Therefore, the farmers are installing more and more tube wells to irrigate their crops. This is why salinity is becoming the major issue in most parts of Punjab and Sindh.
Sixthly, focusing more on land, crops and yield problems the man behind the plough is always ignored. While formulating the 5 or 10 years plan, no emphasize has been laid on the importance of solving the problems of farmers. Most of the farmers are illiterate, poor and ignorant.
Seventhly, The only mean of communication in rural areas is T.V or radio so it is urgently needed on the part of these mass communication resources to air the programs related to the new agricultural techniques and allied sciences. But these programs should be telecast in regional or local languages. Because lack of guidance is the main reason of farmers backwardness. The communication gaps between well qualified experts and simple farmers have not been bridged. Availability of these experts is not ensured in rural areas as they are reluctant to go there.
Eighth, Pakistan is rich in fertile land yet the land is being wasted in different ways. 79.6% million hectors of land is cultural where as only 20.43% million hectors is cultivated. The reason can be described in two points. A major area is owned by feudal. It is difficult to manage such a huge area so only that part is cultivated which is easy to manage, the rest is left ignored. The rise of industrialization has given threat to this sector. People are migrating to cities and cities are expanding, thus new towns and colonies are constructed on fertile lands. The irrigation system of Pakistan needs improvement as about 67% of the land is irrigated with canals.
Solutions for Agricultural Problems in Pakistan:
Feudalism should be abolished and lands should be allotted to poor farmers. This will enhance the productivity and per acre yield of all the crops in Pakistan. Taxes should be imposed on Agricultural income but not without devising limit of land holding. Otherwise it would directly affect poor farmers.
Federal Seed Certification and Federal Seed Registration is approved but it should take responsible steps in approving seeds as it has already approved 36 new kinds of seeds. Specially, those seeds should be banned which can create pest problem in near future. These seeds are of cotton mainly. International seed makers are providing those seeds which are not successful in our country as these seeds are not tested on our soil.
A new Agricultural policy must be framed in which following steps should be focused on.
- Small farmer must be focused. The major problems of small farmers should be solved first.
- Consumer friendly policy must be projected.
- Productivity enhancement program must be constituted to adjust and support prices.
- Different Agricultural zones should be introduced. As Multan in famous for its Mangoes and citrus fruits so it must be made Mango, citrus zone by which Perishable products should be exported. This would enhance agro based industry and increase foreign reserves. Pakistan Agricultural storage & Services Corporation needs to take steps in this regard.
- Corporate farming like giving lands to Mitchell’s, Nestle and Multinational companies is also a good idea that will also help those who own a large area of fertile land but can’t manage it.
- Surplus vegetables and fruits must be exported. A Rs 39 million scheme has been approved for the current fiscal year for establishment of agro export processing zone for fruits, vegetables and flowers. This will also help in commercializing agriculture.
- Latest machinery should be provided to the farmers to increase the per acre yield. This provision should be on easy installments so that the farmers can avoid the burden of loans. If possible subsidy should be given by the government of modern machinery.
- Modern techniques of irrigation can solve the problems of irrigation in Pakistan. This includes drip irrigation and sprinkle irrigation methods. By using this technique the farmers can save a huge sum of money which he pays for irrigation through tube wells and tractors.
- More dams should be constructed on Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers. This will enhance the storage capacity of water and reduce the per acre cost of all the crops. This step will also reduce the salinity chances of the lands as less tube well water will be flooded to the lands which cause salinity.