Agriculture sector, the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, recorded a growth of 3.81%, its highest growth in 13 years, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-18.
The sector surpassed last year’s growth of 2.07% with next-year’s target set at 3.5%.
The growth comes as the government hugely favoured agriculture, offering friendly policies, subsidies and billions of rupees worth of packages, which critics say are to appease the vote bank that is largely associated with the sector.
After agriculture underperformed in 2015-16, putting a dent on GDP growth, the government announced various policies, including incentives and subsidies on fertiliser, power, tractors, agriculture loans and packages like the Kissan Package worth Rs341 billion.
“Pakistan’s agriculture sector plays a central role in the economy as it contributes 18.9% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and absorbs 42.3% of the labour force,” the survey said.
“The crops sector performed well and witnessed a growth rate of 3.83% against last year’s growth of 0.91%. The growth in sub sectors, important crops, other crops and cotton ginning registered a significant growth of 3.57%, 3.33% and 8.72%, respectively.”
Growth in the sector would have been higher had it overcome water scarcity issues and managed a higher produce per acre of land through the usage of certified seeds and other measures.
“There is a need to improve the yield in a number of crops, which is still low compared to peer countries,” the survey underlined.
To mitigate this challenge, the National Water Policy should be formulated on the basis of which provincial governments can make their respective plans, it said.
“During 2017-18, the availability of water for Kharif stood at 70 million acre feet (MAF), a decrease of 2% against Kharif 2016-17. During Rabi season 2017-18, the water availability stood at 24.2 MAF, a decrease of 18.5% over Rabi 2016-17,” it said.