Pakistan’s agriculture productivity dilemma

By: DR ZAFAR ALTAF

Pakistan's agriculture
Pakistan’s agriculture

Few people can be blamed for agriculture’s poor performance and the fact that we are importing virtually all our agriculture products from India. I met an MNA and a lady farmer from the area of Wahga and I could see the pain on her face as she lamented the fact that imports from India are seen on thousands of trucks entering Pakistan. Banana in the banana republic has been priced at Rs 500 per dozen. So there we go. What else?

Pakistan Agriculture

What is the dilemma that Pakistan faces? Its agri-personnel (I refuse to call them scientists as they have not done anything worthy of science) are obsolete and even if they are PhDs, they are oxy-morons unable to fathom the eventualities of this country. They are busy in intrigue and getting their relatives, their daughters-in-law into positions of ever-lasting jobs. If you do not believe me, ask who and how many brothers have they employed? Because they suffer from constant malaise of loose talk, they are not in a position to do anything but double talk and as someone said, they seem to have snake tongues. Work does not come into their equation. Their enmities and their friendships based on a caste system continue from the agriculture universities. I seem to be the only one that has emerged in their midst for as many as three times without being part of the agriculture university and hence the aggravating circumstances that I have had to face from the supercilious idiots that make up the organisation of agriculture research. Even now, after I left in disgust, I find that they have not been able to get a Chairman for the last 14 months. These are the people that are supposed to have been the apex research station and they are spoon fed by the person that gave them this parochial system in the first place. What luck he is still used by these infantiles to save them from difficulties. Their latest saga is one of abuse and denigration for the PM as the decisions recently that came out was not liked by them. Managerial naivety cannot be countered and when one has passed through the agriculture mill, it becomes doubly difficult. But I have strayed from my real target today.

The agronomic practices that are prevalent in the research station date back to the 1930s. They do not want to change these as that would mean extra work and why should they go that extra mile when intrigue gets them what they want. They relish ignorance and they do not like ministers that make them work hard. Most of them (at least three have been from Balochistan) and these are easy to handle according to them. Their ignorance in matters pertaining to agriculture is a blessing for them. They normally bring with them a sidekick and these sidekicks are supposed to look after the work (where ignorance is bliss, its folly to be wise). We had one with the last minister from Balochistan and we have one from the current lot. The colleagues of this person have been taken to task by the accountability organisation and nine of them are facing the rigours of investigation. Why is it that Balochistan is tops in this kind of work? Under the garb of the Balochistan package all kinds of misdemeanours are done. These days, people recruited under the PM package are Punjabis recruited there and then transferred to Islamabad against some job. One of the Danda-bearing Assistant Director at the PARC gate was from Balochistan, whose linkages made it possible for him to be recruited there – transferred to the capital, promoted and made to hold a danda here. He was anaemic at 240 lbs [or thereabout] weight. The dandabardar force was set up to defy the PM’s orders.

The work at hand, so far as productivity is concerned, will be examined in the context of ‘soil scientists’ work. Last time, I had a bet with one of them, he refused to honour that bet. The bet was a car and when he lost the bet on his home ground of soil scientism, he refused to honour the bet. Such gentlemen can only be found graduating from the Faisalabad University. The work that I would have liked these soil scientists to do was to find an easy way to remove weeds without the use of chemical herbicides. At the trust research station that has been recently set up, this work has been undertaken. I asked a cotton farmer as to what are the major costs that he has to account for. He replied that pesticides and herbicides are the two, after chemical fertilisers. The chemical part has already been worked out and cheaper inputs have been suggested.

Pesticides are already under attack and the alternate to Pyrethoids has been worked out. The cost is considerably less and the non-chemical spray does its job. The interventions are absolutely necessary for the organic farmer, as he has do all the interventions with due caution and in an organic manner. This will also lead to superior quality production of organic crops. That is one of relativity which is now taken a notch higher by improving quality even more. In short, the total approach to farming has to undergo a change and for this the farmer has to be brought forward as the stakeholder. This will change precious foreign exchange (in the form of reduced import of chemical fertiliser). The chemical fertilizer MNCs will not like it and therefore the reason for their not liking this have to be ascertained for which a committee of eminent persons be created and asked to report. The fear of food shortage should not be taken seriously for after nearly 40 years of chemical fertiliser use, we are still not secure food-wise.

So, how would you like the farm weeds to be eliminated without the use of chemical herbicides or small fractional mechanical tools? To witness this, one would have to come to the trust research station where farmers are taken to a hands-on job. Pakistan does not have to beg from anyone. It is the elites that beg for their own lazy sake, while the entire brunt is borne by the countries’ poor. Why have supercilious expatriates here? The poor sods do not know their elbow from any part of their body.

The soil scientists have done a poor job and are unaware of the interventions that can increase soil fertility and at the same time remove weeds leading to higher productivity. Why don’t they know? Simple because they are not given to hard work and seek the hand of God when they are unable to deliver. When there is marginal increase in productivity, they pat themselves but when the failure is visible they blame the supernatural for the poor crop. Can they have a better defence? Agriculture, ‘Mr Expatriate’, is difficult and the products are made under very trying circumstances. The Planning Commission and the MoF have a lot to do? But can they do a lot? Their growth strategy is in tatters despite calling people from all over the world. Want to have a dialogue on the issues at hand, or are you going to shirk this one, like the fact that the route to the top is though connections. Be a man for once, if not for ever. Do you want more on the issues in agriculture productivity? There are 53 variables to reconstruct.Source Business Recorder. Agriculture in Pakistan .

 Agriculture in Pakistan

Published: Zarai Media Team

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