Abdul Rasheed Azad
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Special Committee on Agriculture has recommended the government and other stakeholders of revamping the existing agriculture lending system to rid the farmers of exploitation of middleman.
The panel meeting held here on Wednesday presided over by convener committee Shandana Gulzar Khan while agreeing upon the proposal to revamp the agriculture lending system to unlock the farmers from the Arthi’s dominated exploitative informal lending mechanism.
The panel debated the role of the banks and micro-finance institutions to cater to the demand of the agricultural credit.
The participants endorsed the digitization of credit, public procurement, advisory and extension services and weather index-based climate insurance pool.
The panel also stressed the need for a phased approach to end the distorted subsidies through a business model of the small farmers.
It was unanimously agreed that structural reforms such as contract farming, professionally managed farmers’ cooperatives and village produce organisations, multiple produce markets and investment in warehousing was pivotal to drive up agro-productivity.
The speaker National Assembly has invited the policy experts and practitioners to critically analyse the NA Committee’s proposed agricultural growth strategy, policy levers, reform instruments and implementation plan, and propose corrective measures where necessary.
The experts, while appreciating the proposed strategy, unanimously stated that a Pro-Small Farmers policy lens was crucial to accelerating sustained agricultural growth rate and rural poverty alleviation.
The convener of the sub-committee explained that the objective of the plan is to accelerate the modernisation of the agriculture sector, so that the sector can generate resources for the sustained development of the economy with a high degree of self-reliance.
Outlining the reform objectives, she remarked that there were twin aims of this reform plan; firstly, to enable the agriculture sector to achieve a sustained growth rate of 7.5 percent per annum by 2027, and secondly, to ensure that the poorest farmer i.e. the small-holder farmer (SHF) can be brought out of slavish poverty.
She added that the intended growth will also have positive additional spillovers i.e. reducing rural poverty, digital financial inclusion, improved food safety, security and quality, bio-diversity, formalisation of the agriculture economy, supporting import substitution as well as support growth of exports (to Central and South Asia and Africa).
Other major components of the strategy included special initiatives for Balochistan, south Punjab, KP, Tharparkar, cotton revival program, oilseed development, low-cost refinance line of credit and credit enhancement for digital production finance, digitization of demand-driven extension content, integrated seed system, agriculture climate change insurance pool (farmer risk transfer mechanism)/satellite-based crop reporting, establishment of Agriculture Development Authority for coordination of reform implementation, linkages with Ehsaas, Kamyab Jawan and the CPEC and incentives for promoting investment in warehousing, contract farming, and farmers produce organisations.