Agriculture as Seen in the 'Vision 2030'
Niaz, Shafi M., Economic Review
The Planning Commission, with the assistance of its seven Members and 66 experts drawn mostly from various institutes, have .authored "Vision 2030" which aims at 'developed, industrialized, just and prosperous Pakistan in a resource constrained economy by developing knowledge inputs".
In the field of agriculture The Vision aims at an efficient sustainable agriculture ensuring food security, and with ability to contribute to the economic development for Pakistan." In obtaining these objectives, 10 major challenges have been identified. These include;
i) doubling of output of various crops, fruits, livestock and fishery.
ii) improving the nutritional quality of staple food toprovide deficient items in the food
iii) diversification of crops to more valuable crops and value added products
iv) reducing the losses of fertile land and urbanization
v) private sector-led growth through investment in value added products for local and exports
vi) improving marketing system particularly of perishable commodities
vii) sustainable management of the national research base, etc
viii) public investment in rural structure and important institutions like water management, research, extension, health, water supply and sewerage
ix) encouraging balanced use of renewable biomass suitable for production of the food (biomass from wasteland, castor, jatropha)
ix) mitigating the impact of climate change.
One would have expected that some leading and priority suggestions would, follow the identified major challenges. But in the "box", following the narration of these objectives, the issues have seemingly been disposed off by saying that "These tasks and the persons to use them are already available within Pakistan". I wonder if this explanation or solution would satisfy the readers simply because as if these were already known and their solutions known and implemented, perhaps, there was no such need to repeat them. It would have been more helpful to the readers if some elaboration of each issue with some suggestions, if any, were made, however brief these might have been. If I had no constraint of time and length, I would have been happy to dilate on these challenges, just for example take the case of the challenge that marketing system need to be improved especially for the perishable commodities. Today, as everyone knows, that marketing o of issue which needs very high priority needing attention for solution. It is the general feeling that faulty marketing policies have created the type of crisis ever experienced in the history of Pakistan. Also that the farmers are claiming that they are not getting the right prices and at the same time, the consumers are showing their indignation as they have to purchase their daily needs at prices never experienced earlier. At the same time, here exists a wide gap between what the consumers pay and what the farmers receive. A study carried out sometime back revealed that the farmers were getting only 25 per cent while all other intermediaries were pocketing 75 per cent of the price; this was the case of fruits and vegetables. The "Vision" should have at least tried to identify what are the reasons for this situation and could this be remedied. It may not have gone into much details but some broad practical solutions should have been indicated. Every one seems to believe that the continuous successive crises in wheat, sugar, onions, potatoes, etc. have been because of the ineffective and defective marketing system. These crises, it is believed, may have arisen because the production statistics were not correct, and the Government claims that, interalia, smuggling has been going on, that there was hoarding on a large scale; and/or may be that the demand has not been correctly estimated. In these situations what remedy does the "Vision" suggest?
Under the pressure of international donor agencies, the government has changed its policy towards the support price system. …