PR No.65 Long Neglected Agriculture Sector Needs Immediate Attention Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Islamabad: December 8, 2015

Agriculture sector, the life line of Pakistan’s economy that employs nearly half of the work force is ingrained with inherent constraints making it less productive. Unfortunately the sector has been neglected for long while policy making. This was stated by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan while addressing a policy seminar on “Agriculture Growth and Poverty Reduction in Pakistan ;Role of Small Commercial Farmers”.

The Minister further added there is a strong connection between agricultural growth and poverty reduction. The size of operational land holdings is shrinking day by day whereas population and rural poverty are on the rise. We need to realize and address all these constraints at the earliest.

The Minister highlighted that for the first time in history, direct compensation is being provided to the farmers. Kissan package worth 341 billion comprises of four segments; financial support to farmers, cost reduction of produce, provision of agricultural loans and simplifying the loan acquisition. Prominent support measures include provision of Rs 5000 per acre to farmers having land up to 12.5 acres for rice and cotton growers, reduction in markup rate for rice & cotton growers by 2 percent, tax exemption for solar tube well installation and increase in production index units (PIU) of agricultural land from Rs 2000 to Rs 4000.

The minister reiterated that food security is one of the priority areas defined in Pakistan Vision 2025. Prime minister has approved the constitution of Federal Food Safety Regulatory Body designated with the task to bring exports up to international standards of quality in accordance with WTO stipulation.

The seminar was conducted in collaboration between USAID, IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute), Pakistan Strategy Support Program (PSSP) and Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Prof Sohail Jehangir Malik presented the findings of his research. He highlighted that majority of the farmers hold less than 5 acres land. He classified farmers holding land between 3 acres to 75 acres as Small Commercial Farmer. The researcher stressed that this small commercial farmer must be the focus of attention during policy making in order to promote and protect agriculture sector. Market imperfections and agriculture constraints need to be addressed in order to ensure food security.