Pakistan. Crops’ production targets not achieved: agriculture sector suffers losses worth Rs 219 billion this year
Terming the year 2012 as bleakest year for Agriculture, Agri Forum Pakistan (AFP) 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 in to poverty, price hike of agricultural commodities and unemployment.
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, said Agri Forum Pakistan Chairman, Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal while talking to journalists here on Thursday.
Pakistan produces food crops worth Rs 1050 billion per annum including wheat, rice, barley, maize and others. While sugarcane, cotton and tobacco produced worth of 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.
AFP Chairman discussing the performance of the agricultural sector during the year 2012 said total production of agriculture and livestock is Rs 4468 billion per annum which constitutes 22.34 percent of the national GDP.
He regretted that this sector which ensure food security, provide raw material for 73 percent of the national exports and livelihood to 65 percent of the population living in rural areas is being neglected. Mughal said that wheat during 2012 fell short around 1.5 million tons of its target of 25 million tons, rice production remained at 6.1 million tons against the target of 6.5 million tons while cotton’s target was stagnant at 15 million bales for last eleven years. During 2012 we could only achieve 13.6 million bales. ‘Pakistan’s largest export sector would have to import 1.4 million bales either from India or China to meet its requirement,’ he alleged.
Coming to minor crops he said gram, which is considered meat for poor masses had lowest ever per acre yield during this year and irony was that present agriculture minister of Punjab province hail from the same area where this crop was produced. He said that per acre yield of gram in 1948 was 6 maund per acre when there were no research facilities like today but in year 2012 it remained 2.2 maund per acre. He said that four districts of Punjab including Layyah, Bhakkar, Mianwali and Khushab had suffered Rs 22 billion losses during 2012 due to decline in gram production.
He said that Punjab province remained the worst affectee as it suffered Rs 40 billion loss due to decline in wheat production, Rs 17 billion in rice, Rs 39 billion in cotton and Rs 22 billion in gram crop due to production decline. In total, province suffered Rs 118 billion losses due to decline in these four crops. He was of the view that these losses would add to poverty in the rural areas, unemployment and lawlessness.
Coming to livestock sector, Mughal said that this sector always registered a growth of 3.2 percent per annum but this year it remained 1.3 percent, milk could register only 1.43 percent increase not sufficient to meet the requirement of our ever increasing population. Similarly, he said country failed to achieve the required growth in mutton and beef sector. However, he said poultry sector achieved slightly but not sufficient still.
He said in Pakistan one person is getting only 5 eggs on average per month while this ratio in India is 21 eggs per month and in Europe 63 eggs per month. Similarly he said that meat is available to only around 1.38 kilograms per month while in Europe is 19 kilograms per month.