The Pakistan Business Council states that "Pakistan's agricultural productivity ranges between 29 percent and 52 percent, far lower than the world's best averages for major commodities".
AUGUST 31, 2018
Agriculture comprises of a big chunk of Pakistan’s economy, and a bulk of the country’s population implicitly relies on this sector. According to Pakistan’s Statistical Bureau, about 24 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is made up of contributions from the agricultural sector. It constitutes 43 percent of the labour force and is the largest source for foreign exchange earnings. But unfortunately, being an agrarian economy, the foreign reserves earned through this sector are not as high as they should be. A couple of months back, a report released by the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) states that “Pakistan’s agricultural productivity ranges between 29 percent and 52 percent, far lower than the world’s best averages for major commodities”. Therefore, in order to be an agrarian economy in its true sense, there is a need for the advancement of agriculture in Pakistan.
Keeping this in mind, the Government of Pakistan, in collaboration with Chinese firms, has started different projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) aimed at restructuring the agriculture sector. The development of the agriculture sector has been an essential tenet of CPEC however, it wasn’t addressed in the early harvest phase because priority was given to improving the infrastructure and energy network, both of which are essential for overall progress.
As a result, considering the importance of agriculture, the second phase of CPEC, under the Long Term Plan (LTP), explores in great detail how to grow and further develop this sector. Starting from production, processing, storage and transportation of agriculture goods, utilizing water assets, conservation and the production of food, as well as land development, the LTP has prioritized only agricultural reforms.
Agricultural growth is also another way for ensuring poverty alleviation. It is evident that the objective behind CPEC is to strengthen the weak economy of Pakistan. Pakistan’s financial system largely relies on agriculture so, once it is developed, it will bring in more economic benefits and will raise exports of agricultural goods. It would also be worth mentioning here that China is the world’s largest importer of agricultural products, with over $100 billion of food products. But unfortunately, Pakistan only supplies one percent of food imports to China, which makes it an important part of CPEC to boost Pakistan-China bilateral trade, especially in the agriculture sector.
Pakistan only shares one percent of food imports with China, which makes it an important part of CPEC to boost Pakistan-China bilateral trade, especially in the agriculture sector
Consequently, in order to bring prosperity, new research in agricultural products, along with enhancing per-acre yield, producing high value-added products and linking farmers with CPEC are measures that are being undertaken by the LTP. The ministry of national food security and research has adopted certain procedural measures for the growth of the agriculture sector in Pakistan. Moreover the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) provides 30,000 solar systems to the agrarian communities for solar water pumping. Along with this, China will build a fertilizer plant that will produce 800,000 tons per year, a meat processing plant in Sukkur that will produce 200,000 tons per annum, as well as a vegetable processing plant with an annual output of 20,000 tons and a plant to process fruit juice and jam of about 10,000 tons in capacity.
Focusing on the vision to upgrade the economy of Pakistan, CPEC should also focus on vegetable and fruit production, as well as value adding services, especially for our highest earning crops. CPEC will be an inspiration and a boon for the agricultural and trade community of Pakistan and will hopefully lead to favourable revenue incentives and significant improvements in life style.
The writer has an M Phil in international relations from Quaid-I Azam University Islamabad. She is currently working as a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad. She can be reached at Quraathashmi@gmail.com