Agriculture accounted for 20.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014-15 and is a source of livelihood of 43.5 percent of rural population. Increased agricultural production and high crops yield is essential for food security which make the farming systems less vulnerable to climate change. To make agriculture more effective in supporting sustainable higher economic growth trajectory and reducing poverty in Pakistan, a policy framework needs to be anchored coupled with favorable socio political climate, adequate governance, and sound macroeconomic fundamentals. The prime focus of the government is on high value agriculture including horticulture, livestock and fisheries. Concerted efforts are being made to improve farm level practices and developing linkages of farmers with markets and industry based on new technologies, ideas and future pathways for sustainable growth of agro industry.
Agriculture sector has traditionally sustained a satisfactory growth to ensure food security for our growing population. However, the major challenge faced has been low returns to farmers of their commodities because of higher costs of production. This calls for well-thought interventions to improve agriculture products value addition at the farm levels and industrial linkages, especially under the existing situation, when the agricultural commodities returns do not commensurate the increasing cost of production, a vibrant industrial sector understanding of these challenges may come forward to support the farm sector. The government is currently focusing to develop mechanisms for minimizing cost of production to increase farmers’ interest in agriculture and livestock. As a policy, the government is committed to provide required infrastructure support to agro-processors with the aim to enhance value addition and job opportunities for growing young population.
Presently, the government is fully cognizant of the role of rural youth in developing services sector and entrepreneurship for value added growth of agriculture sector and its relevance to improvement in incomes as agriculture sector is a prime driver of agriculture-related industries and the rural nonfarm economy .The rural youth is being supported in acquiring the new skills for setting agro-based businesses for improving household livelihood. The Prime Minister’s Youth Loan Program, the areas like livestock, horticulture and fisheries as well as non-farm sector would benefit and this would result in overall economic betterment of rural masses and generate raw material for our growing food industries.
Agricultural performance in Pakistan remained subdued. Major factors underlying this slow performance include slow rate of technological innovation, limited adoption of progressive farming techniques, problems with quality, quantity and timeliness of input supply, limited investment in construction and maintenance of infrastructure; marketing and trade restrictions, pest and livestock disease problems, and limited amounts of credit for agricultural production, processing and the lack of agriculture-specific financing.
Crop Situation Important crops, such as wheat, rice, sugarcane maize and cotton account for 25.6 percent of the value added in overall agriculture and 5.3 percent of GDP. The other crops account for 11.1 percent of the value added in overall agriculture and 2.3 percent of GDP. Livestock contributes 56.3 percent to agricultural value added much more than the combined contribution of important crops, other crops and cotton ginning (39.6 percent). The production performance of important crops is given in Table.
Challenges to Face:
Fertile soils, favorable weather conditions & fresh water are few of Pakistan valuable resources, which are being utilized to transform agriculture and feed the nation & support economy. In contrary, years of traditional farming practices have resulted in the diminishing growth in yield & production per acre, instead of investing more on inputs & increased consumption of fertilizers.
To be more specific, limiting factor behind stagnant agriculture growth is lack of awareness with modern farming practices & new technological advancements. Few important factors are as follows:
Fertilization: : National statistics highlight that in Pakistan fertilizer usage on various crops is in best case misbalanced. Imbalance use of fertilizer i.e. over focus on nitrogen and minimal use of potassic fertilizers is an important aspect to address. This nutrient mismanagement resulted in potassic deficient soil & affect yields.
- Soil Structure deterioration:
Pakistani soils are alkaline in nature, research have proved that off take of nutrient by plants from soils is not that efficient as in neutral soils. This is why instead of our increasing phosphatic use in not bring in the major impact in our yields. In order to get our crops utilize available nutrients, it is important to reclaim pH of soils.
- Water Scarcity :
The Indus irrigation system, developed in the 19th century became the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world as a result deserts bloomed and irrigated agriculture provide the platform for the development of modern economy. Now, water situation is extremely precarious, according to an estimate, water availability has plummeted from about 5,000 cubic meters per capita in 1950s to less than 1,500 m3 per capita today. Structural water stress is increasing on daily basis by its high population. According to secure production increase requirement under prevailing condition, 30% water availability would be required.
- Modern Farming Practices:
Farmer communities are practicing their traditional ways of farming and are unaware of technological & modern practices.
In order to streamline our agriculture, essentially following
areas need to be address:
- Soils Management.
- Nutrition Management
- Water Management
- Technological methods of farming
PAKISTAN ECONOMIC SURVEY 2014-15 http://www.finance.gov.pk/survey/chapters_15/02_Agricultre.pdf