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Rural uplift must to meet 70pc targets under SDGs: experts


May 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan would have to ensure rural development for achieving 70 percent targets under Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) out of total 230 indicators and this transformation would also reduce burden on its urban centers, researchers said on Thursday.

Experts, speaking at a moot organised by Center for Rural Economy (CRE), were

unanimous that improvement of agrarian societies was critical for a strong national economy.

“Effective rural development strategies are central in achieving the SDGs, under the “leave no one behind principle”,” Mina (one name), a researcher, said in her inaugural address to the participants of the seminar.

“To achieve zero hunger and eradicate poverty, a territorial people center and knowledge based approach to rural development, empowerment of local institutions and partnerships with private sector with a focus on agriculture will go a long way.”

She added, rural development is essential part of the process for structural transformation characterized by diversification of the economy away from agriculture.

Aamer Irshad, CEO of CRE, in his welcome note, highlighted the importance of rural transformation and the actions taking by the Planning Commission in this context.

“The 12th five year plan has included rural transformation in their priority list by understanding the sensitivity of the rural issues in Pakistan,” Irshad said.

Qazi Azmat Isa, Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), shared his thoughts about integrated rural development programmes and successful case studies in South Asia and Pakistan.

“The inclusion of the rural inhabitants is the key in rural transformation; the ownership must be shared with the local community for sustainable development,” Isa said.

Abdul Wajid Rana, program leader at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Pakistan, discussed post-devaluation rural development in Pakistan. “We are depending on the union councils but need to develop rural institutions to empower the rural community,” Rana said.

Zafar Ul Hassan, chief, SDGs, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, shared the progress on SDGs made by Planning Commission, Pakistan. “Planning Commission has developed a national framework for minimum imperative of sustained development and is now working on the provincial frameworks,” Hassan said.

Hans G.P. Jansen, senior Agriculture Economist, World Bank, Pakistan, said Punjab had reached self-sufficiency in wheat which was a major achievement but the agriculture productivity was poor, and yield gaps in major crops were hazardously high.

“Punjab yields are 30-50 percent low than the the neighboring countries of the region because Pakistan is at the bottom of agricultural research and development spending, which is lower in South Asia,” Jansen said.

He argued that the agriculture policy practicing in Pakistan became irrelevant due to rapid globalisation and needed to have smart market reforms and public investments & incentives.

Nabeela Farman, manager Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) KPK, shed light on how rural development was mechanised through

entrepreneurship and stated that favorable entrepreneurial ecosystem is prerequisite of this time.

“There is a lack of entrepreneurial culture for the 64 percent youth below 29 years of age in Pakistan. It is because of the complicated procedures of accessing finance, typical issues of women entrepreneurs, and lack of relevant information to initiate own business,” Farman said.

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