Integrating the agriculture sector in a circular economic model can resolve Pakistan’s economic, social, environmental, food shortage and inflation problems. The circular economic model will also play an instrumental role in achieving a number of United Nations-Sustainable Development Goals-2030 (UN-SDGs), Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) Vice President Chaudhary Ahmad Jawad expressed these views while talking to APP on Monday. He said, “Agriculture is inherently the backbone of Pakistan’s economic system and without the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, the country’s other economic sectors cannot achieve sustainable development. For that, digital revolution in any sector requires investment, where the banking industry comes into play.” Ahmad Jawad was of the view that the banks especially ZTBL (Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited) could finance various digital farming or sustainable agricultural solutions under the umbrella of Green Banking by providing green financing facilities. The State Bank of Pakistan has issued ‘Guidelines for Efficient Agricultural Water Management Financing’ to promote water conservation through the banking industry. Sustainable/green financing schemes with low-interest rates could also be launched for various eco-friendly agricultural techniques and equipment, he mentioned. The PBF office-bearer said that leveraging drone technology could enable farmers to increase agricultural productivity through improved pest management for which the ZTBL and other private banks must extend fresh loans to small farmers across Pakistan. “Small farmers can be facilitated through timely credit and this is possible if the ZTBL and other banks work on new technologies instead of sticking to traditional four or five agri-products only.” He argued that Pakistan’s population would almost double by year 2050, while climatic changes and global warming were posing new challenges which would ultimately create food security and other problems therefore emergent and effective measures on agricultural and other relevant fonts were direly needed to avoid any adverse effect. Ahmad Jawad added that over the last many years, the country’s agriculture sector had been marred by temporary and ineffective policies which impacted the rural economy negatively thus resulting in massive migration of rural populations to urban centres especially in Sindh and Balochistan. PBF vice president suggested that the banks must encourage value-addition activities in fruit and vegetables being grown in different areas of Pakistan to export such products. He asserted that banks should extend financing facilities for small oil extracting units; for promotion of oil substitution crops i.e. canola, soybean, sunflower, mustard and olive; financing for silos (crop warehousing facilities construction); milk chilling units to promote standardised dairy supply chains; horticulture and establishment of greenhouses/tunnel farming; and silage baler for promoting silage making. Banks should educate and facilitate all the value chain partners including farmers and other supply chain partners about the various environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural products and processes available, which would increase per acre yield and minimise adverse environmental impacts, he proposed. Ahmad Jawad was of the view that implementation of green supply chain practices was vital for the development of sustainable agricultural practices. ZTBL’s credit policy was stagnant and confined to one million rupees only which needed to be reviewed by the bank on priority basis, he said, adding that on edible side of imports, Pakistan spent substantial amount of foreign exchange on import of edible oils every year, in order to save precious foreign exchange reserves, ZTBL must also introduce concessional loans to the farmers for encouraging sowing of soybean, canola and sunflower in larger areas of the country. “If we adopt these certain measures in the agriculture sector then there is no point that agriculture sector contribution to GDP may touch six percent which will be a great contribution for the economy,” he concluded.