Pakistan government especially the province of Punjab have completely failed in evolving a vision, solid planning and sound implementation of mechanism to ensure progress of the agricultural sector, which may lead to a serious food security situation by the year 2012.
This was claimed by the Agri Forum Pakistan Chairman Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal while talking to a group of journalists here on Monday on the eve of ‘World Food Day’ being observed around the globe on October 16, 2012 (today). He said overall global food situation is not very promising as three years back global production of wheat was 690 million tons which has come down to 650 million tons thus showing a shortfall of 40 million tons.
He, regretted, that situation in case of Pakistan is not very different despite being an agrarian country but lack of any effective policy has lead to reduction of food availability for per head per annum in Pakistan. Agri Forum Chairman said that for a good production, agricultural sector need vision, planning and implementation. Unfortunately, he alleged that it is absent in case of Pakistan and especially Punjab. He said that Pakistan imported highest number of food items during the year 2011-12 worth Rs 476 billion after coming in to being 65 years ago. He said these imported items included dry milk, vegetables, fruits, edible oil and other such things, which could have been easily produced in Punjab.
He said in year 2004-06 Pakistan’s population was around 154 million and availability of food per person per annum was 194 kilograms which rose to 206 kilograms in year 2008 when our population touched 170 million people. However, he said it again dropped during the year 2012 when our around 177 million population only has availability of 191 kilograms of food per person per annum. Internationally this should have been over 200 kilograms per person per annum, Mughal remarked.
He said that if lentils were available to Pakistanis at the rate of 7 kilograms per person per annum in the year 2005 then these were now available around 3.7 kilograms per person per annum during present period. He said that total production of food crops, which include wheat, rice, maize, barley etc had also reduced by 3 million tons during the last four years and all these signs were predicting that Pakistan might he heading to a famine in year 2014.
Mughal was very critical to the Punjab government in this scenario saying that it was the province which could have played a leading role in enhancing the production of food crops. However, he regretted that those sitting at the helm of affairs in agricultural sector had no vision or the capacity to make a long-term policy for development and progress of this sector. ‘We are only having adhoc policies since last many years,’ he remarked.
He said there is also another shortcomings and that is no body is taken accountable on failure in achieving the production target of any crop. Giving his recipe to solve this situation, Ibrahim Mughal proposed that the agriculture department and the ministry should be abolished forthwith replacing both with one ‘Agriculture Development Board’ having 51 percent representation from growers and rest from agricultural scientists, technical experts and people from media.
Similarly, he said that all those organisations involved in agricultural research should also be given under such separately set up development boards again having representations from growers (51 percent) and technical and scientific experts from agricultural sectors. These boards should carry out demand driven research. He alleged that the existing Punjab Agricultural Research Board (PARB) was wasting millions of rupees budget while claimed that its Chief was promoting private companies. He said that it was amazing to note that Punjab never had below 07 maund per acre yield of grams (channa) in the past but this year it had only a yield of 2.5 maund per acre.
He said that if Agri Forum Pakistan is assigned the task it could take the agricultural sector growth rate from present 2.5 percent per annum to 6 percent per annum in next six months and that too without any pay and perks.