The economy of Sindh is based on agriculture. However, more than 50 percent population of the province lives beneath the poverty line and the reason is intrigued reluctance of the province to adopt modern techniques of farming and discard its outdated mode of agriculture.
According to the recent report of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the third quarterly report for the year 2014-14 in Pakistan, including Sindh province, the overall growth in agriculture fell short of the target for the third consecutive year. The report says: “The main reason was weak performance of the crop sector.”
The poor state of affairs in vital agriculture sector is apathy of the provincial government of Sindh to boost this sector which could be a game-changer for the people of this province. In the Sindh budget of this year (FY16), the agriculture sector has gotten little attention both in terms of current and development spending. The revenue expenditure of agriculture department has been increased by 6 percent (or less than Rs 300 million) to Rs5.5 billion. Similarly, allocation under annual development plan has also been raised less than 2.5 percent (or by just Rs 100 million) to Rs 4.5 billion. And, out of the development allocation, around Rs 4 billion have been earmarked for ongoing schemes and a little more than Rs 0.5 billion for the new projects. If compared to the agriculture budget of Punjab this year, the lack of seriousness of Sindh rulers to the agricultural sector seems really disappointing.
There are a few regions in the world which have the rivers like mighty Indus, but one could still find a vast desert and arid areas here. This has happened just due to the negligence of policymakers to modernise the irrigation and agriculture.
Israel, essentially a desert and water-deficient region, has made miracles in the field of agriculture by adopting modern farming methods. Even in our own country, Punjab province has launched an ambitious programme of making its barren lands cultivatable; however, in Sindh the rulers lack both vision and ability to make this fertile land and eliminate poverty from this province by making it a green basket of Pakistan.
Sindh could easily double and triple its agricultural produce if it adopts drip irrigation technology to make its arid zones green and blooming. Almost all countries of the world have adopted drip irrigation method to grow more by using less water. Sindh has got an agriculture university at Tando Jam, but its teachers, experts and scholars have yet to contribute significantly to present workable technology, methods and training methodologies for farmer to boost the drip irrigation in this province.
The modern methods of dry farming, organic farming, vertical farming, multi-crop farming, green-house farming, and poly tunnel/ poly house farming are yet to be introduced and adopted in Sindh province. Sindh badly needs modernising its agriculture. It desperately needs modern agriculture technology and methods, but it is not possible till those present in the corridors of power change their wadera mentality and begin thinking on modern lines to revolutionise the agriculture sector of Sindh in the better interest of general public of this province.
Sindh is considered amongst the poorest areas of the world. Its rural area children face more nutrient-deficiency than the children of the poorest countries of Africa. This poverty would continuously rise due to increase in population, unless the rulers of Sindh realize the importance of cultivating its vast barren lands by fully utilising the divine gift of the Indus River.
Published in Pakistantoday