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Devolution of agri subject to provinces still hanging in balance




  • Despite approval of 18th Amendment in the parliament with emphasis on devolution of agriculture subject to provinces, the fate of agriculture subject is still hanging in balance. 
    Eight subjects which had became redundant have been abolished and 15 major functions of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MinFA) have been separated and distributed among the federal ministries and departments and there was no actual devolution of the agriculture subject have taken place to the provinces.
    In major industrial and agriculture economies like United States, China, India, Japan, Korea and England agriculture is the federal subject and full fledge federal agriculture ministries are functioning at their federal level.
    The reason explained in this regard by the officials is decisions relating to import and export of agriculture commodities, policy making for agriculture sector, incentivisation of agriculture sector on equal basis conducting research extension of this research to farmers needs it to maintain agriculture subject at federal level.
    Two provinces remain surplus in wheat and two always remain in deficit in wheat production in accordance with their wheat requirements and it is the federal government which ensures arrangement of agriculture commodities for the deficit provinces from surplus provinces through local production or imports, explained the officials.
    The official explained Department of Plant Protection, Agriculture Policy Institute, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Pakistan Central Cotton Committee, coordination among marine and fisheries departments, protection and monitoring of crops from pest and other attacks, developing different verities of seeds for batter production of crops, experiments of different verities of seeds of different crops in different provinces and other important initiatives need federal level involvement in agriculture affairs.
    The other justifications for maintaining agriculture subject at federal level, as explained by the officials is nine international organisations relating to agriculture like FAO, IFAD, UNICEF and agriculture departments of major economies having strong interest in agriculture always coordinate with federal governments instead of units of a federation.
    Not a single province has the capacity to coordinate with these international organisations and they still need federal coordination between them.
    Similarly the distribution of water for agriculture is federal subject with Indus River System Authority as federal regulator and this is vital for ensuring equal opportunities for each federating unit to get due share of water for it’s agriculture with involvement of centre for ensuring food security at national level. 
    Constitution of Pakistan is still silent on the issue of agriculture, weather it would remain with centre or to be transferred to the provinces, said the official sources.
    The officials at Ministry of Food Security and Planning Commission believed at the time of the preparation of the 18th Amendment, the official concerned remained unable to defend the retaining the agriculture subject with centre.
    Or otherwise, the architects of the 18th Amendment were with a mindset for it’s transfer to the provinces without knowing the negative implications on this productive sector of the economy.
    The official sources explained with the creation of Federal Ministry for Food Security at federal level and no devolution of major functions to provinces have proved a faulty decision making on the agriculture subject. 
    The abolishing or deletion of may functions of MinFA while creating of Food Security Ministry has also resulted in loss of references that were needed and were available for agriculture growth strategies. This was a vast treasure of information, data and research that was once available, have been lost in the decision making process.

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