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June 20, 2019

Agriculture growth


June 20, 2019

Pakistan is an agricultural country. According to the Economic Survey 2018-19, the agriculture sector provides livelihood for almost two out of every five Pakistanis. The sector grew by only 0.85 percent in 2018-19 which should ring alarm bells for the government and give more preference to the sector. This poor performance of the sector is much lower than the target of 3.8 percent and growth of 3.94 percent in the last fiscal year. However, this sector still has vast capacity as it contributes 18.5 percent to the country’s GDP, and provides 38.5 percent jobs.

It merits mention that the under-performance of the agriculture sector was due to insufficient availability of water which led to a drop in the cultivated area and a drop in fertilizer off-take. Also, the crops sector experienced negative growth on the back of a decline in the growth of important crops. Sugarcane production declined by 19.4 percent to 67.174 million tons. Cotton declined by 17.5 percent to 9.861 million bales and rice declined by 3.3 percent to 7.202 million tons while production of the maize crop increased by 6.9 percent to 6.309 million tons and wheat growth was marginally higher by 0.5 percent to reach 25.195 million tons. Other crops having a share of 11.21 percent in agriculture value addition and 2.08 percent in GDP showed growth of 1.95 percent due to increase in pulses and oilseeds production. Cotton ginning declined by 12.74 percent due to decrease in production of the cotton crop. If the agriculture sector gives this low growth, then it will also harm demand for industrial goods and other services and supplying raw material to agro-based industry notably the cotton textile industry which is the largest subsector of the manufacturing sector. In view of the above, there is a dire need to improve agriculture-related policies so as to decrease the misery of farmers.

Khan Faraz


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