As Pakistan is still an agrarian country- the role of the agriculture sector is vital in its economy. Moreover agrarian products provide raw material basics for our industrial sector is as well- making it a vital source of national income. The agriculture industry provides employment to a large portion of the labour force in Pakistan. More than 45 percent of the labour force is thought to be directly associated with this industry, while more than 66.7 percent of the rural population is dependent on agriculture. Agriculture has played an important role in the reduction of unemployment and disguised employment.
A country prospers and develops economically when its GDP increases. At the time of Independence in 1947, agriculture was the largest contributor to the GDP of Pakistan but as time passed, the service industry took over. Now agriculture has the third largest contribution in the GDP of the country. Livestock and fisheries are also a huge part of this sector and it not only provides employment to the people of Pakistan but also exports to several countries. Livestock accounts for 40 percent of this economic sector and 9 percent of the GDP. Pakistan is considered to be at the fifth position in the Muslim world and ranked at the twelfth position worldwide for farm output. It is the world’s fifth largest milk producer.
All this implies that agriculture is the backbone of the Pakistani economy. The agriculture sector is also a major source of foreign exchange earnings for this country. Products such as cotton, rice and wheat are exported to various countries. It brings about 65 percent of the total earnings.The more money the government can make using tax schemes the more money it will have, to spend on the development of Pakistan. As agriculture contributes significantly to the per capita income, when the agricultural sector prospers, government tax revenues increase as their tax revenues are directly proportionate to the increase in GDP. In this way agriculture helps in generating more tax revenue for the government. However for the past few decades Pakistan’s major focus has been on the industrial sector.
The continued fall in production has threatened the largest foreign exchange earning sector. Having the lowest GDP in the South Asian region is the result of the decline in the sector. Although Pakistan has an agricultural economy, rapid decline in the sector has forced Pakistan to import several food commodities to meet its own consumption needs.
As agriculture contributes significantly to the per capita income, when the agricultural sector prospers, government tax revenues increase as revenues are directly proportionate to the increase in GDP
This does explain the importance of agriculture sector for an emerging economy like Pakistan. The newly elected government of Pakistan has made some high promises to the people who are working in the agriculture sector. The most important step will be to provide a compatible environment to the Pakistani farmer, so that he/she can compete with the rest of the world and most importantly with the region. In this regard a lot of work is required to be done in the sectors associated with the agriculture sector. For instance, the fertilizer sector is considered as the back bone of the agriculture sector. In past few years the federal government has given some incentives to this sector and also tried to control the price of fertilisers with the help of subsidies. But this plan has failed. The lack of research and innovation in the agriculture sector is a major problem behind this failure.
The need of the hour for the new upcoming government is to derive an agriculture policy to counter the various problems related to agriculture sector. A lot of work is needed to be done at the provincial level. As we all know that now provinces are more independent so it is important for the federal government to make a solid and innovative agriculture policy and implement it with the help of all provincial governments. It is also important to remember that Pakistan’s two most popular agriculturists; Mr Fakhar Imam and Mr. Jahangir Tareen are also part of the new government setup, so it should be expected that the new government will benefit from their expertise. So that the agriculture sector can be used to deal with the issues like the shortage of raw materials also exports can be increased to give a prominent rise to national income.
The writer is freelance columnist and he can be reached at email@example.com
Published in Daily Times, August 17th 2018.