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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Better Pakistan | Agricultural Policy (II)

Better Pakistan | Agricultural Reforms (II)



Pakistan is among the very few countries of the world that are blessed with four seasons, roaring rivers, fertile land and abundance of water resources. The land of Punjab and Sindh is famous for agriculture and forms the basis of Agri Based Economy (ABE). Pakistan unfortunately despite having rich agricultural perspective always face crisis that is related to agricultural mismanagement  The widening gap of supply and demand of various food commodities is a shame for a country which has more than 60% of its population related directly to the agriculture. The pseudo intellectuals of the Bosses never realized the problems of the poor people of Pakistan and never tried seriously for the policy making. Pakistan Muslim League (N) has been in gift for two times and has done extensive work in the field of agriculture. This blog post will cover the work of PMLN in this domain.

PM speech on April 04,1997
In our earlier blog post we presented some of the incentives given to the farmer community. Those incentives were the main catalyst behind the boost in  agriculture sector growth. It was a valid point raised by the PM Nawaz Sharif that why our government is reluctant to pay our own farmers the international price of wheat. In 1997 the very first year of the second term as PM, the government announced 1997 as a year of wheat. Several more incentives were also given that lead to the historic moment when for the first time in our history Pakistan was able to balance the demand and supply chain of wheat from its own resources.
This blog post is divided in several sections. Firstly, the most important aspect is discussed i.e. legislation, for setting up research and farmer facilitating centers. Then the research work of the Agri scientists is discussed. The R & D work is followed by govt. incentives and a newspaper report about the progress in agricultural sector.

Legislation:


In the year 1997 under the visionary leadership of Mian Nawaz Sharif and the dynamic captaincy of Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the provincial assembly of Punjab passed a bill for the establishment of the Punjab Agricultural Research Board on October 24,1997 No.PAP-Legis-2(8)/97/116. The prime aim of establishing this authority was to facilitate research in all domains of agriculture including crops and plants. It also covers the arenas of livestock & dairy development, poultry, fisheries, forestry, wildlife, ecology, range management, agricultural engineering, water Management, irrigation and such other activities and subjects as the Government may declare as “agricultural research”.

New Research Institutes 


Following The guidelines of the Agriculture Department, Government of Punjab, the Research centers produced a lot of new seed varieties specifically targeting the potential farming areas of Pakistan. New research centers were established by the govt. of Punjab. The Biotechnology Research Institute was established in December, 1987 under the guidance of then CM Punjab Mian Nawaz Sharif. Similarly, for better crop production the  Soil & Water Conservation Research Institute was established in 1989 by the provincial Government of Punjab to develop technology for controlling soil erosion and conservation of moisture for sustainable and profitable crop production. Another institute of research is Post Harvest Research Centre (PHRC) which was established during 1989-90 with the assistance of Asian Development Bank and United Nations Development Program (ADB/UNDP). For uplifting regional agricultural research Arid Zone Research Institute, Bhakkar was established in 1991. This center is contributing its services in arid zone districts of Bhakkar, Mianwali, Khushab, Layyah and Muzaffargarh. The Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) was established during 1991-92 as a result of re-organization of the water related research programs being executed at the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC), Islamabad. In 1998, a new cotton acid delinting plant was  established under the control of the Punjab Seed Corporation.


Research outcomes


In 1990, the sugarcane research institute developed a new kind of sugar cane Known as BF-162 [Ref: sugar-cane Research institute]. The same year a new variety of potato SIALKOT SUFAID was introduced. This variety is presently not used in cultivation because of the availability of more productive varieties. Two new varieties of pees named SMARINA ZARD and CLIMAX IMPROVED were also introduced. A new type of radish 40-DAYS was launched. Here, It is also worth mentioning that only available variety of onion PHULKARA(PUNJAB) was also introduced in 1990. In 1991 NAGINA, a new breed of tomato was introduced to the Pakistani farmers. The very next year PAKIT was introduced as another productive type of tomato. In 1992 MINO a new type of radish was open by the vegetable research institute. In the same year a new form of Brinjil named NIRALA was released. Coriander type Dilpazeer was released also in 1992. The only variety of spinach developed by vegetable research institute is DESI PALAK. It was formulated in 1992. [Ref: Vegetable research institute].  Other then the above mentioned vegetable crops following seeds are currently in use by the local farmers. These seeds include the following [Ref: Wheat Research Institute]



Besides the scientific work by the govt institutes and establishing new research centers, it was evident that the  support on ground level is a must call of time. Farmers, being the direct target of all the activity, were given direct incentives and for the first time the subsidy on electricity was given.  Not only in 1997, but in 1999, federal govt. approves further cut in of power rates for agriculture and industrial sector.The various other incentives for the farmers of Pakistan have already been discussed in the first part of the Agricultural policy blog post.

                              

As a side note the above mentioned work may have no worth if it failed to show significant impact on Agri economy. The encouragement of local farmers aided with the scientific progress proved that the steps of government were in the right direction. According to our archives, the growth rate of Agri sector was satisfactory. According to a website about Exports of Pakistan, following were the salient effects of the agricultural policy of PMLN.
  • The average growth was 4.6% per annum that jumped to 5.9% in 1998
  • Of the total export earnings of Rs 387.2 billion in 1998 - 99, the earnings from export of rice and cotton alone amounted to Rs 26.3 billion or 7 percent of the total exports. 
  • Only during the year 1999-2000 Pakistan outclass the wheat demand thus achieved self reliance. 
  • 21.1 Million Tons of wheat were produced in 1999-2000. 
  • Production of rice during 1999 - 2000 was 5156 thousand tonnes.
A very interesting information is available on the website of Punjab Seed Corporation. That information is a clear cut indication of our farmers friendly policies and shows the progress of increased production of crops. 



We as a party never claimed to be the perfect of all. We believe that the performance indices during our times indicates a positive change in our society. We sailed through the tough times when the west was against us because of Nuclear tests and we did all work based on our own resources. This is what we call smashing the begging bowl.  The performance of present govt. of PMLN in Punjab will be discussed later on.


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