Agri sector needs structural reforms


ISLAMABAD-There is a need to introduce structural reforms in the agriculture sector in order to increase the output, lower agricultural imports, ensure sustainable development and improve farmers’ living standard, said Senior Scientific Officer at the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) Dr Muhammad Hanif while talking to WealthPK.

Agriculture is an essential component of economy and a strong engine of growth in the majority of developing countries, he said, adding that the biggest portion of Pakistan’s population is directly or indirectly engaged in the agriculture sector. “Pakistan must focus on the agriculture sector for quicker economic growth and poverty reduction. Since Pakistan is an agricultural country, its economy cannot develop without taking care of the agriculture sector. The country’s agricultural landscape will develop through adoption of new technology, allowing farmers to enhance productivity and become more competitive.” “In order to implement agricultural reforms, the government should strengthen the research organizations and provide them with funds. Private companies should also be involved so that the output can be increased. To improve the farming methods, special attention should be paid to the issues related to seed, loan availability, and pesticide use. Farm productivity should be increased through the use of better seeds.”

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The NARC scientist further said, “Farmers should have an easy access to inputs including seeds, insecticides, fertilizers, and pesticides. It is important for the government to increase its involvement with the private sector in order to promote the use of quality seeds.” “In terms of natural resources, the government should give special attention to the land and water reforms. Currently, the lands being farmed require maintenance. For these lands, soil fertility, salinity, and waterlogging should be the main reform areas. In addition, Pakistan can acquire new agricultural lands,’’ said Hanif. “Food chains should be created so that we have a place to store extra commodity in order to prevent them from wastage. For example, if we have more tomatoes than we need, they may spoil. One-window operation should be available for farmers to apply for loans. As the credit system is too complicated, small farmers with limited resources often refrain from applying for loans.” “Lastly, regarding the farming techniques, we must address the hazardous use of pesticides in Pakistan. The government should ensure that pesticides are not sprayed more than the required amount so that they will not cause hazardous damage to crops and human health,” he suggested. The NARC official said if the government helped local farmers, taught them about the most recent technology, and offered them subsidies on inputs, Pakistan could establish itself on the international market and significantly increase its foreign reserve capacity.

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