Agriculture remains the main contributor to GDP for our economy for a long time. But, now, unfortunately, this sector is damaged, and its contribution is as low as 18.9 percent. The agriculture sector was handled so roughly in the past few decades that it is heartbreaking to examine the situation. Despite having all the potential, the agriculture sector failed to uplift our economy and ensure our people’s right to enjoy a good and healthy life. The following are the reasons.
Why do our people not enjoy good health conditions in general? The main reason is nutritional deficiencies: even at the relatively early age of 40s and early 50s, people start complaining about pain in muscles and bones. The majority of the population in our country don’t enjoy the very basic fundamental human right of access to a balanced diet.
If one cannot get that, then deficiencies symptoms start appearing in the human body, for example, the feeling of weakness, pain in muscles and bones, etc. In particular, vegetables are a vital source of many key nutrients, including vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid, and dietary fiber. Several factors involved in this. Among all factors, few of them are as follows: for example, the non-availability of a sufficient amount of vegetables in the market.
We in Pakistan compare everything with India in terms of progress, military and weapons. Then why not compare our agricultural sector and its contribution to that of Indian agriculture? Despite its 1.3 billion population, India is not only producing enough vegetables to feed its people, but also exporting to neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, and even Pakistan. Moreover, India is the second-largest producer of fruits in the world.
And on the other hand, we in Pakistan are spending millions of rupees to buy these vegetables – where we have the potential to produce and grow them in our own country.
Our farmers are not focusing much on the production of vegetables. A possible reason is the high cost of production, as the government has never given due importance to the agricultural sector. The government did not provide any significant subsidies to farmers as they should have, and now, as a result of that, growers are getting out of this business and shifting their interests elsewhere. And the area under cultivation is decreasing annually.
These are agricultural aspects we need to work on as an emergency, if we want to survive and become self-dependent. Kitchen gardening, rooftop gardening, tunnel farming, crop rotation, correcting rural-urban imbalances and optimal use of land helps us to gain that independence.
If we look at the example of China, agricultural experts analyze the situation for the upcoming five years and recommend a policy and plan for the coming five years to the government. Cultivators are bound to follow the government’s plan. Then, an annual evaluation of policy and recommendations takes place every year, with strict rules and regulations – and with the idea of a reward for those who implemented the plan and guidance best.
We need to learn from the China’s development, especially rural development models, which are being cited across the globe.
Our government should think seriously about agriculture, science and technology, as we are already far behind the rest of the world. Appointing people who truly understand modern agriculture and the dynamics of the agricultural economy for policy-making would surely contribute to bolstering this crucial sector.
Sumeera Asghar Roy is a Ph.D. Candidate at the China Agricultural University, Beijing
The author is a Ph.D. candidate at China Agriculture University, Beijing