Prioritising and focusing on the agriculture sector can increase exports and resolve food security issues of Pakistan for which a powerful agriculture authority should be established in Punjab first and later in other provinces.
These views were expressed by the experts in Jang Economic Session on ‘role of agriculture sector in exports’. The panellists were Khaqan Baber, Hamid Akhtar Chadah, Hamid Malhi, Rabia Sultan, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema and Abdul Rasheed Sindhu while hosted by Sikandar Lodhi.
Khaqan Baber said that food security was the major concern of growing population while every province had its own policies for agriculture.
He said Pakistani farmers were dependent on nature as there was no concept of agriculture insurance and crime change. He said trade deficit was growing due to low quality produce while promotion of corporate farming, quality seeds and cut in the cost of production on artificial farming were required to increase exports.
Adoption of new technologies with expansion of research was required in universities for agriculture growth, he added. Hamid Akhtar Chadah said the government support was required for production of agriculture machinery or import of machinery from Saarc member countries.
He said the government should focus on agriculture sector instead of roads and bridges construction. Hamid Akhtar Chadah called for discouraging the import of agriculture produce from India and other neighbouring countries.
Hamid Malhi said the Punjab government should focus on exporting the agriculture surplus and establish an authority which removes all hurdles in the exports of the agriculture produce.
He said Basmati rice export had reduced to $1.4 billion from $2 billion which was affecting both the government and the farmers while non-basmati rice was being sold at Basmati price. He called for increasing the halal meat.
Rabia Sultan said effective and implementable policy framework was required to sell the local produce in the international market. She stressed the need to produce according to international demand.
Rabia Sultan called for increasing cotton exports share besides basmati rice. She believed that through effective marketing halal meat could be exported to the Central Asian
and the Gulf markets, besides developing a strong processing and value chain system
for the Pakistani fruits exports.
Jamshed Iqbal Cheema said that food security should be focussed on due to rapidly growing population as agriculture exports were not possible in the ongoing water shortage. Focus should be on agriculture sector as all major industries depend on it, he said, adding focus on water storage and value addition was required to increase agriculture produce.
He suggested installing food processing units in agriculture universities likewise developed countries. Abdul Rasheed Sindhu said that improving the quality of produce was crucial to increase the exports. He said use of quality seeds and other inputs could increase demand of Pakistani produce in the world. He believed such people were working in the agriculture sector who did not need any incentive from government rather required free hand to work.