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.