Agriculture: a backbone of the economy

By Dr Ali Akbar Dhakan, Karachi, Sindh
I am suggesting that Paksitan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and other institutions should be well equipped and goal oriented. The relocation of important research institute like Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) also requires immediate action.

However, I would like to draw the attention of authorities towards another serious issue requiring their immediate attention. The Agriculture Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP), later on converted into Zari Tarqyati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) a premier institution to gear up financial sector by providing financial assistance to the farmers has failed to come up with desired expectations.
This sole leading financial institution is now in complete mess because non technical and non merit leadership, at present is just surviving on recovery of outstanding loans from the farmers. The governments’ claims of giving agriculture its due share in the economy have proved to be tall talks.
It is not only the untimely rains but non availability of credit facilities coupled with government’s failure to fulfill its commitment that has ruined the farmer especially paddy growers in Sindh whose is harvest is still lying in the fields; open to unpredictable seasonal hazard. Thus the pledge of secretary agriculture to take rice has too remained unfulfilled as rest of the promises. The businessman on the other hand, true to his salt is waiting for an opportunity by testing the limit of farmers’ endurance to purchase their product as low price as possible.
As if such highhanded are not enough that the government has decided to offer of farmlands to foreign investors as reported in Dawn “Pakistan offers farmland to foreign investors” (April 21). As per details one million acres of best farmland protected by a special security force will be leased or sold in the first place to investors coming from Gulf countries.
I request that before selling or leasing out best lands of the country to outsider investors, the authorities may consider it’s far reaching consequences on the sovereignty of the country as well impact on the well being and psychology of local farmers who despite growing food for 170 million people are still living in sub-human conditions. I think if such farmlands well secured as stated above are provided to local peasants, will be more advantageous to the country.
I also appeal the government to put the agriculture on priority number one of its fiscal policies as at the end of the day it is the ‘Agriculture sector’ that has proved as backbone of country’s economy.

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