Stagnant agriculture production, population increase: food import bill rises to Rs 460 billion during last 5 years
April 19, 2013
M RAFIQUE GORAYA
Due to stagnant agriculture production and nearly 15 percent increase in population, the annual food import bill has increased to Rs 460 billion from Rs 250 billion during the last five years, agriculture experts and agronomists told Business Recorder here Thursday.
Chairman Agri Forum Pakistan Dr Ibrahim Mughal said that despite being a agriculture country, Pakistan was importing edible oil worth Rs 240 billion, tea Rs 40 billion, pulses Rs 18 billion, fruits, vegetables Rs 80 to Rs 90 billion, miscellaneous items like Massalajaat, olive oil, honey, dry milk and other eatables amounting to Rs 70 billion.
Dr, Mughal said though there were 20 million more population to feed yet the Federal and provincial governments neither took measures to increase the agriculture production nor did anything to control the population explosion at the rate of 2.6 percent. He said agriculture sector suffered a huge loss of Rs 750 billion from 2008 to 2013 due to production losses of cash crops including cotton, wheat, rice, grams, pulses, oil seeds, vegetables etc which increased the trade gap from $12 billion to $24 billion in five years.
Terming the year 2012 as bleakest year for Agriculture, he claimed that the sector suffered Rs 219 billion losses this year in shape of failure in attaining the production targets set for major and minor crops leading the country towards food insecurity, pushing the rural population further into poverty, price hike of agricultural commodities and unemployment.
He argued performance of the Punjab province remained the weakest in this regard which registered decline in three big crops including wheat, rice and cotton due to least interest of the government and inefficiency of the agriculture department and research institutes. Punjab produced 2 million less cotton bales as compared to last year, he added.
Pakistan produces food crops worth Rs 1050 billion per annum including wheat, rice, barley, maize and others. The production of sugarcane, cotton and tobacco crops is estimated at Rs 750 billion per annum. Similarly, pulses are produced of Rs 50 billion per annum, oilseed crops of Rs 90 billion, vegetables of Rs 103 billion, fruits worth Rs 213 billion, milk of Rs 1104 billion, beef of Rs 513 billion, mutton worth Rs 338 billion, poultry worth Rs 126 billion and eggs worth Rs 131 billion per annum. Total production of agriculture and livestock is Rs 4468 billion per annum which constitutes 22.34 percent of the national GDP.
Dr Mughal said that production of pulses has come down to 2,50,000 tons from 8,5000 tons though this an important food which stabilises the food prices in the country. Another agronomist said that Pakistan can overcome its multiple socio-economic problems by using full agriculture potential. Pakistan has a rich and vast natural resource base, covering various ecological and climatic zones; hence the country has great potential for producing all types of food commodities. Agriculture has an important direct and indirect role in generating economic growth. The importance of agriculture to the economy is seen in three ways: first, it provides food to consumers and fibres for domestic industry; second, it is a source of scarce foreign exchange earnings; and third, it provides a market for industrial goods. Source Business Recorder
Published: Zarai Media Team