Bodies representing the farm community have disputed President Asif Ali Zardari’s claim that government policies have resulted in higher agriculture growth maintaining that growth in agriculture sector has been relatively low due to anti agriculture policies of incumbent government.
The government has failed to achieve 3.4 percent growth target of agriculture sector during 2011-2012 because of less than estimated growth in major crops including wheat and cotton, the Farmer Associations stated to this correspondent. They said that production of some crops recorded an increase primarily due to favourable weather conditions and had nothing to do with government policies.
The government set the target of 25 million tons for wheat production for fiscal year 2011-2012 whereas wheat production was only 23.5 million tons for the period. Similarly, the rice target was fixed at 7.2 million tons for year 2011-2012 but the total production of rice could not exceed 6.4 million tons, stated agriculture experts while talking to Business Recorder.
Sarfraz Ahmad Khan, Vice President of Kisan Board Pakistan, said the government had missed the set target of agriculture growth rate of wheat, rice and cotton due to anti-agriculture policies. “The government has imposed GST on fertiliser, pesticides and other agriculture equipments, especially tractors which accounts for a considerable increase in the cost of fertilise and pesticides,” he said.
He said that due to GST and prolonged gas loadshedding the price of urea increased from Rs 832 per bag to Rs 1,800 per bag and the price of DAP increased from Rs 2,300 to Rs 4,200. “The higher price of fertiliser and DAP resulted in 30 percent decrease in the use of fertilisers,” he said.
He queried as to how agriculture output could increase in a country when the use of fertiliser decreases by 30 percent. Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman Agri-Forum Pakistan, concurred and said that due to poor and anti-agriculture policies of the government the country had missed the target of wheat and rice in 2011-2012. The agriculture growth for 2011-2012 was relatively not good and ranged between 2.4 to three percent given that in the past (2006-2007) it reached five percent, he said.
He said President Asif Ali Zardari needed to correct his agriculture figures and added that President’s advisors had misguided him by sharing incorrect figures regarding agriculture growth. According to Economic Survey 2011-12, agriculture sector during 2011-2012 registered a growth of 3.13 percent against the set target of 3.4 percent. During 2011-12, the country missed agriculture growth target because of negative growth of wheat and minor cops.
Wheat registered a negative growth of 6.7 percent mainly due to 2.6 percent decline in area under cultivation and delayed sowing. Wheat was cultivated on an area of 8,666 thousands hectares in 2011-12, showing a decrease of 2.6 percent over last year’s area of 8,901 thousands hectares. The production of 23.5 million tons is estimated during 2011-12. The Survey revealed that the major crops excluding wheat registered a growth of 3.18 percent. The major crops including cotton, sugarcane and rice witnessed growth in production of 18.6 percent, 4.9 percent and 27.7 percent respectively.