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July 6, 2020

Old formula

Newspost

 
July 6, 2020

Poverty reduction is linked to innovation and R&D. But innovation only increases when food production increases. Therefore it is good news that the government has taken an initiative by introducing an agriculture package to improve farm production. But unfortunately the government is using the same old formula of subsidizing fertilizer, reducing bank markups, subsidizing pesticide and tractors. This formula has been used many times and it only benefits the banks and industries while farm production doesn't improve. Local small farmers face difficulty on getting bank loans because banks have no process of finding the financial worth of a farm. Rather than giving banks one year advance interests on farmer loans, banks should be asked to implement systems that can calculate farm worth and provide basis for loans to farmers. This would also help insurance companies provide insurance to farmers. Similarly, farmers need drip and sprinkler irrigation systems, which have high initial cost and require some training. The government should ask banks to partner with private companies to provide these new irrigation systems to local farms on subsidized loans.

In many areas of Pakistan, farmers do not use fertilizer. Such farm production can be classified as 'organic' and fetches a higher price in international markets. The government should identify such areas, provide training to locals and certify the area's production as 'organic'. In the northern areas, honey is collected from jungles and can be classified as 'organic jungle honey' and exported at a higher price. There are so many new ways the government can improve agriculture sector in Pakistan, but using the same incentives each year just highlights the copy-paste no-leadership culture of the agriculture promotion institutes of Pakistan that begs for changes at the helms of these institutions to help improve agriculture in Pakistan.

Shahryar Khan Baseer

Peshawar