How To Revitalize Pakistan’s Agricultural Sector & Rural Economy

As quoted by John Salazar,

“I have always said there is only one thing that can bring our nation down – our dependence on foreign countries for food and energy. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy.”

As Pakistan is an agricultural country, our maximum income comes from the crops we grow. The economic development of our country depends on the agriculture sector. Agriculture is the spine of an economy which helps in providing bread to the people of that state. It also gives the raw material to the industry. GDP consist of about 26 percent of agriculture, 52 percent of the population is getting its livelihood from it. 67.5 percent of the population of Pakistan lives in rural areas and are directly involved in it.

The rural economy experience problems due to the lack of Pakistan’s security and increased terrorism. From the last two decades, there is a notable decrease in the growth rates of agriculture. Agriculture growth also depends on weather and market fluctuations. The instability of growth can be controlled by public policy and investment.

The question arises how rural Pakistan can achieve sustained growth and reduce poverty?

For the healthy growth of our country, it is important to improve its agricultural and rural productivity and incomes. Rigorous efforts to manage land, soil, water, and energy more sustainably. It will also require dramatic reforms to markets for seed, fertilizer, land, and commodities such as wheat, and policies to clarify land tenure issues, encourage rural enterprise development, and improve the status of rural women.

Talking about growth, rural poverty is also needed to lessen and growth alone is not enough to eliminate poverty. Certain steps have to be taken regarding rural poverty too which includes dedicated attention to public services in the countryside, especially social safety nets and programs for health, education, community development, and women’s empowerment.

  • Adapt to climate change.

Much of the land of Pakistan is semi-arid, which makes it exposed to climate related shocks, alternate policies and investments should be made for water storage and distribution including canal rehabilitation, maintenance, and drainage, to keep water flowing, protect against severe floods, and meet the country’s changing water and energy needs.

  • Increase agricultural resilience.

If Pakistan wants a consistent growth, it must strengthen its agriculture sector against weather extremes including floods, heat, and cold, and against pests and diseases. This will require public investment and purposeful policy reforms in agricultural research, extension, seed systems, and agricultural input markets to support farmers.

  • Reallocate public funding.

Pakistani government should lessenspending from the domestic earning, storage, and distribution of wheat, which amounted to 24.84 billion Pakistan rupees (PKR), about $255 million, in 2012/13. Savings can also be made by reducing sponsorships to the fertilizer industry, with that money redirected to research and extension efforts designed to improve soil and fertility management.

  • Adapt to urbanization.

The rapid growth of Pakistan’s urban areas means that demand for high-value fresh products such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat is expanding. Maximizing this important opportunity for rural growers, major infrastructure investments are required including more stable electricity services, reliable transport networks and other building blocks of modern supply chains.

  • Target poverty.

Improving conditions for the rural poor will require major investments and policy reforms at the national and provincial levels, including improved health and education service delivery; an expansion of hygiene and sanitation infrastructure in rural areas; and capacity strengthening for public service provision at the provincial and local levels.

  • Empower women.

Policy makers currently pay too little attention to the role of women in Pakistan’s rural society and economy, their inability to exit from low-productivity rural activities, and their disempowerment in economic and social aspects of day-to-day life. Though some existing social protection and microfinance programs are helping rural women, and these can be models for a much broader effort. With a stronger focus on better targeting and participation, social protection programs and community-driven development programs can be central to Pakistan’s poverty reduction strategy.

The review article will briefly discuss the above mentioned issues and some of the possible remedies under the environment of Pakistanand their adoption to improve the agricultural productivity in the country.

Ways in which technology has improved agriculture exceptional!

No doubt since the rise of technology, billions of lifestyles, countless processes and a huge number of businesses have been touched and improved with it. Technology has not only made things easier but has taken life to another level of excellence. Medical, school, household, businesses etc., you name it and there’s nothing that technology hasn’t affected in better way.

Our concerning matter is Agriculture. And technology has helped a lot in improving things around if we talk about it too. In fact, there is an endless list of processes that have been improved through technology.

The way technology has evolved agriculture, it is surely worth having a look at. So below I have mentioned 6 ways in which technology has improved agriculture:

  • Finance:

Having a good financial back up is a big factor that involves in the betterment of agriculture. Lack of it takes a big toll on everything that follows ahead. The latest financial methods, accounts, banking,and payroll software have simplified things a lot and it is possible to keep a proper record of financial matters.The simplifying and streamlining of book work, better budgeting, improved reporting capabilities. Not only that, loan and debts have made it easier for farmers to support the growth of their crops and pay back later when they get paid. So overall, not only farmers have a great benefit from it but also the government party and other businesses that deal with agriculture directly for raw material. Financial processes take less time and create fewer headaches for many.

  • Farm management:

Back then only a few people were involved in taking care of the livestock. Which caused mismanagement as well as the spread of unknown diseases among the whole lot. Loss of livestock either due to death or improper management.

But now proper management of livestock through technology has improved things to the next level. Management of livestock numbers provides producers with many advantages. Some include monitoring livestock movements, trading, reporting, forward planning,and feeding programs. New technology and applications streamline this process. It allows producers to track their livestock. As well as create reports that assist in tracking their effectiveness and cost. Additionally, Using technology, the lifetime tractability of livestock is now more effective than ever.Having lifetime tractability is important for various reasons including, Disease Response, market access,reputation,identification.

  • Vehicle operation tracking and GPS:
    There are numerous applications of High-precision GPS tracker for vehicles in precision agriculture such as in farm planning, field mapping, tractor guidance, crop surveillance,and yield mapping. Farmers can manage land, water, seed stock, fertilizer and pesticide use, labor and livestock.

    Global Positioning System can be used in the following ways by farmers:

    • Tractor Guidance: Farmers can put their agriculture machinery such tractors, harvesters, and cultivators on auto-pilot. Advanced machinery can be programmed to follow a set route or guide with the help of Vehicle GPS Tracking System. Machines can be programmed and timed for major farming tasks like cultivating, fertilizing, harvesting and spraying of pesticides.
    • Crop Surveillance: Micromanaging and surveying of crop fields becomes a piece of cake with High-precision positioning GPS Systems. Pest, insect and weed infestations can be easily mapped and pinpointed. Aircraft sprayers and crop dusters can be easily guided over fields with the help of a Vehicle GPS Tracking Devices. This minimizes excessive usage of chemicals and chemical drift.
    • Tracking Livestock: Livestock, cattle or pets can be easily monitored on a large farm. Collars worn by the animals which are fitted with GPS Trackers can easily track them on a real-time basis. These hassle-free collars are comfortable to wear and provide real-time tracking data to farmers.
    • Yield Monitoring: GPS makes tracking of yield variations possible by collecting timely geospatial information. It allows farmers to precisely navigate and position specific locations in the field where the probability of a better yield is higher. This facilitates future management decisions and input recommendations.
  • Digital marketing monitoring:

Technology has transformed the waymarketing is done, allowing small businesses to scale marketing operations and rival those of large corporations. This means that agribusiness has unprecedented power to the efforts in marketing to farmers. Farmer no longer needs a large team to run a scaled marketing operation. And not even a massive budget – most of the tools farmers can get free or a very low price. And the return on investment gained is going to make every penny spent worth it.

New software allows users to track their online activity, to manage the website and social media campaign activity. Facebook has developed their technology so that reporting is easy and free. Which is useful for many users who what to know who is watching and when.

  • Work, health, safety,and human resource:

Work, health, safety,and human resource management is as important in agriculture as it is in other businesses. You might have seen a huge role of HR in any company you step in. in fact, no business can properly run with the absence of HR. And the introduction of HR in agriculture has caused much positivity and improvement in so many things. Managing WHS and HR can take a significant amount of time, stress and energy. It has helped to educate farmers regarding many important matters. Following things can be done through HR: Inductions, policies and procedures, form templates, Stress-free hazard and incident reporting, Plant and equipment registers, SDS registers etc.

  • Remote monitoring and the use of drones:

The eye of monitor and drones can reach where you physically can’t. Of course, it’s not possible to take care of thousands of acres for a limited number of people and to make sure that thongs are running normal and just fine. Crop health monitoring, site/ paddock surveying, stock feed bunk monitoring,water point checking can be done through the drones and RM.

No matter how small or large an agriculture business is. Technology has touched the agribusiness in many ways. To have a good growing agriculture business it is very important to be acquainted with the technology that is offered today.

Witnessed Improvement in Pakistan’s Agricultural Product Export

Agriculture largely contributes in Pakistan’s GDP and according to recent reports 70% of the foreign exchange earnings come from agricultural products’ export. Mainly cotton, rice, vegetables and fruits etc are exported from Pakistan. These exports have increased during last 9 months of the current fiscal year.

According to Central Intelligence Agency’s World Fact book, Pakistan’s 8.3% GDP represents the exported goods and services of Pakistan. With respect to continental perspective, 37.2% exports were towards Asia and 35.5% were towards Europe. Some smaller percentages were exported to North America of 17.8%, 6.6% to Africa and 1.4% to Latin.

Pakistan is reported shipping US $21.9 Billion worth of goods all around the world in 2017. Top ten categories include, Miscellaneous textile of cost $4 Billion (18.1% of the total export), Cotton of cost $3.5 Billion (16% of the total export), Knit clothing accessories of cost $2.5 Billion (11.5% of the total export), Clothing accessories of cost $2.5 Billion (11.3% of the total cost), Cereals of cost $1.8 Billion (8% of the total export), Leather articles of cost $632 Million (2.9% of the total export), Sugar and sugar products of cost $511.9 Million (2.3% of the total export), Optical and medical apparatus of cost $410.6 Million (1.9% of the total export), Fish of cost $406.9 (1.9% of the total export) and salt, sulphur and cement of cost $385.5 Million (1.8% of the total export). Maximum exported products are agricultural products.

Several reports have analysed the export of Pakistan and concluded that the export should be more than the current export to have greater impact on food trade deficit.

According to ministry, the flooding Monsoon rains will turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Kharif crops

The Kharif crops produced in large cultivation all over the country including cotton, rice and sugarcane will turn out to be the main beneficiaries of the monsoon rains as these rains will impact positively on the production. According to a senior official at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNS&R) these rains will aid in increasing and improving the water levels in reservoirs which have been falling recently as well as act as a pivot element in the cultivation of major Kharif crops produced in the country including maize, sugarcane and rice.

He further added to his statement by saying that it will provide assistance in acquiring a paddy output for crops but long continuation of this rain may impact the crop negatively.

Agreeing with the proposed report, Dr. Khalid Abdullah of MNS&R stated that the rains will favorably affect both high delta Kharif crops such as rice, sugarcane and maize as well as low delta Kharif crops majorly and most importantly cotton. But he also addressed to an opposing scenario where he stated that if the situation turns out to be as that the rains continue for a long period of time or the country tends to receive normal amount of rainfall, it will be un-healthy for crops as rain results infecting the cotton crop with various diseases. He said that the cultivation of cotton has reached its final stages whereas rice is still in process. For the Kharif season of 2018-19 the target of sugarcane production set by The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) is 68.157 million tons producing from an area of 1.161 million hectares, the target of paddy production has been fixed at 7 million tons cultivated from an area of 2.8 million hectares of land whereas the cotton production target set by the FCA for the production year of 2018-19 is 14.370 million bales of cotton cultivated from an area of 2.955 million hectares.

The Director General (DG) at Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said that it is forecasted for monsoon to be more active in the first of ‘the monsoon season’ i.e. from July to mid-August rather than the second half.

He quoted:

“Significant rains are expected in the first half of the monsoon and it will improve water level in reservoirs”

As it can be observed from the above mentioned reports and facts, there is a hope that this monsoon season will serve to be a blessing for water level up keep and production in the Agriculture sector of Pakistan.