Govt aims to revitalise agri-sector

The government has outlined a series of initiatives to breathe new life into Pakistan’s agriculture sector. These include the formulation of a national seed policy and the introduction of the Agriculture Development Authority Act to facilitate corporate farming in Pakistan.

Sources informed The Express Tribune that the Ministry of Food has developed several initiatives and is in the process of consulting with all stakeholders, including provincial authorities. These initiatives aim to restructure the agriculture sector, addressing key challenges and fostering sustainable growth.

As part of this plan, the government is considering delisting underperforming seed companies that have failed to contribute positively to the introduction of quality seeds in Pakistan. Fraudulent practices by seed and pesticide companies have led to the collapse of the agriculture sector, with farmers falling victim to poor-quality seeds.

Sources in the food ministry said the ministry presented an action plan in a high-level meeting before the prime minister, outlining various components, including the finalisation of the Federal Seed Policy. The policy draft has been prepared, and consultations with provinces are on the agenda.

Agricultural Development Act for Corporate Farming

The government envisions opening up the agriculture sector to corporate companies, attracting investment and modern technology to boost crop yields. The Ministry of Food and National Security has prepared a draft for the Agricultural Development Authority Act, which is currently under consultation with provinces.

Under this act, companies can secure large land areas on long-term leases, expecting to bring in capital, machinery, equipment, skilled personnel, and global market connections. Unlike Pakistan’s current small-scale, family-owned, or tenant-operated farms, these corporate farms will be professionally managed, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.

Initial responses to the concept of corporate farming are positive, especially from Gulf countries seeking stable food sources. However, concerns have been raised about potential adverse effects on small farmers, herders, and local consumers, particularly regarding land and water allocation and potential food price hikes.

Framework for Land Usage

The federal government has urged the chief minister of Punjab to share the plan and legal requirements with other provinces to make identified land usable for investors and corporate farming. Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtukhwa (K-P) have been asked to provide timelines for the implementation of legal requirements similar to those followed by Punjab.

Read Despite progress, challenges persist in agriculture sector

The Ministry of Food has also been tasked with sharing comprehensive details, including eligibility criteria, the application process, and terms and conditions for obtaining land for corporate farming.

National Seed Policy

The government plans to rename the Federal Seed Policy as the National Seed Policy. The Ministry of Food Security aims to seek approval from relevant authorities in Pakistan to execute this plan. Additionally, there are plans to provide digital literacy training to Pakistani farmers, enabling them to adopt modern farming techniques. IT companies have initiated various projects globally, leveraging artificial intelligence to revolutionise farming practices. The government aims to integrate these advancements into the agriculture sector.

Restructuring Seed Authority

To modernise the seed industry, the government plans to restructure the Seed Authority. A comprehensive plan is in place to introduce modern techniques and ensure the production and distribution of high-quality seeds. Additionally, underperforming seed companies that have hindered progress in the agriculture sector may face delisting.

Livestock and Horticulture Focus

The food ministry will conduct a market and investment pre-feasibility study in the livestock and horticulture sectors to evaluate investment potential and stimulate growth. The government aims to identify standard and uniform farm-level practices, preparing guidelines for streamlined farming processes at large, medium, and small farm levels. This approach seeks to guide farmers, particularly those with small holdings, toward enhanced productivity.

Overhaul of Departments

In an effort to enhance effectiveness, the government plans to overhaul the Department of Plant Protection and the Animal Quarantine Department. A study is being conducted to evaluate their performance and propose restructuring measures for the future. This initiative is crucial for responding to evolving threats to crops and livestock, implementing efficient quarantine measures, and ensuring overall biosecurity.





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