Govt should review agricultural policy, says Abdul Basit

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LAHORE – Former senior vice president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and former Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA) chairman Abdul Basit has urged the government to review its agricultural policies as the sector has the capacity to wear off the impact of ongoing economic meltdown.
In a press statement issued here on Saturday, Abdul Basit said that potential of Pakistan’s agriculture sector had not been fully exploited due to a number of reasons including unfavorable policies. He said that 43 percent of Pakistani labour is dependent on agriculture and the yield gap in the four major crops of Pakistan is three times more than the best producers in the world such as China and Egypt.
He said that low yield was affecting financial position of the 43 percent labour leading poverty in rural areas. He added that, if we stayed where we are today in terms of cropped areas and yield per hectare, the country’s food availability will dwindle 30 percent in the next two decades. Elaborating his point, Abdul Basit said that China produces double the cotton and wheat per hectare as compared to Pakistan. He maintained that Egypt produces around three times more rice and sugarcane per hectare as compared to Pakistan.
Abdul Basit said that per acre yield could be improved through large scale introduction of hybrid seeds and mechanised farming, high efficiently irrigations systems such as drip irrigation and reduction in wastage of crop through introduction of privately owned storage facilities. He said that approximately 25 percent of fruit and vegetable production was lost due to absence of cold storage.
He added that the government should ensure more storage capacity through public private partnership. He suggested that land for store houses should be provided by the government and sheds should be built by the farming community. Abdul Basit demanded the government to review its agriculture policy through comprehensive debate and consultation with the stakeholders.