AGRICULTURE is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy. According to Pakistan Economic Survey 2011-12, it is important for growth, exports, incomes, food security and industrialisation.
It is the second largest sector of the economy and contributes about 21 per cent to the GDP, generates productive employment opportunities for 45 per cent of our labour force and 60 per cent of the rural population depend directly or indirectly on this sector for their livelihood.
At present present the agriculture system is creating inequality and food insecurity. About 40 per cent of the people are food-insecure, and small farmers have no say in decision-making.
Agriculture is no longer profitable for small farmers who are abandoning the profession and migrating to cities.
According to the survey, Pakistan’s agriculture grew by 3.1 per cent against the targeted 3.4 per cent. Major crops accounted for 31.9 per cent of the agricultural value-added and experienced a growth of 3.2 per cent in fiscal year 2011-12.
Agriculture is continuously on a downward trend as it has registered an overall decline of 10 per cent in several major and minor crops during the last three years. Reasons for the decline have been floods in the country during 2010 and heavy rains in Sindh during 2011.
Also, lack of research, insufficient funds allocation and discouragement to domestic varieties are among some major impediments to the development of agriculture.
Monsoon rains and glaciers are two sources of water availability in Pakistan, but now monsoon rains pattern and quantity are changing. The country also observed two long spells in the last two decades, especially from 1998 to 2002. This is bound to have adverse impact on agriculture, if climate change is not addressed seriously.
It has been reported in the press that non-availability of irrigation water due to lack of rains has created drought-like situation in Sindh.
The non-availability of irrigation water would cause more than 40 per cent damage to three major Kharif crops, i.e., cotton, paddy and sugarcane, and may cause a loss in the billions of rupees to these crops.
The economy of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is also agriculture-based.
The most important cash crops grown in the province are sugarcane and tobacco, besides orchards.
Both tobacco and sugarcane require high water as compared to other crops. It is, therefore, need of the hour to think over the issues of climate change and water availability for agricultural crops so as to have sustainable agricultural development.
Climate change is becoming a threat to the country. Also, increasing population and decreasing resources may pose a threat for our future generations. Therefore, farmers should practise knowledge and improve food security through sustainable agriculture.
Promotion of sustainable agriculture will not only save environment, but also boost farmer’s income.
There is a need to conserve our water resources, promote careful practices, build more water reservoirs, exploit modern technology and explore new resources of water.