Representatives of Growers’ organisations have urged the incoming government to declare agriculture as its top priority for strengthening and improvement in the national economy which will lead to providing new job opportunities and eradication of poverty from the rural areas.
Agri Forum Pakistan (AFP) Chairman Dr Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal while talking to media persons here on Tuesday said the new rulers should adopt agriculture as their strategy for developing the country and strengthening the national economy. He added that new rulers should hand over the departments of finance and agriculture to capable people rising above the considerations of relations and affiliations so as country could progress and stand on its own feet.
Mughal stated that the new government had to bring down trade deficit to 12 billion dollars from existing level of 24 billion dollars, saying it could be achieved by increasing the production of cotton, rice, fruits, leather and other products by 40 to 50 percent.
He said the biggest challenge for the new government would remain improvement of the national economy and it had to enhance national exports from 25 billion dollars to 33 billion dollars and imports had to bring down from 42 billion dollars to 35 billion dollars. He said it would save country from economic degradation. He also proposed that luxury items import should be banned.
He said the government had to concentrate on construction of new dams and bring down the oil import bill which at present was 12 billion dollars. He said increase in cotton and rice production could provide more exportable surplus and earn precious foreign exchange for the country.
Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) President Dr Tariq Bucha, while talking to Business Recorder, also urged the coming government to invest in the agricultural sector as it gave return in just six months and could boost the growth rate from present 3.5 percent to five-to-six percent.
He said PML-N the leading largest party in 2013 elections seemed to be in a hurry for normalising relations with India. However, he said it must think that on what terms it wanted good relations with India. He feared that it might not follow the previous government in granting MFN status to India.
He said that new rulers should give it a thorough consideration and bring stakeholders from farming sector on a table to see the advantages and disadvantages of trade with India to the agricultural sector of Pakistan and then take a decision. Coming to steps needed for a boost to Pakistan’s agri production, he said the government should take steps for introduction of new technology, increase credit for that sector, provide market access to the growers and other such steps and claimed these steps would prove catalyst for increasing the national growth rate besides enhancing agricultural growth rate.