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Wednesday October 27, 2021

‘Better livelihood for smallholders under China-Pakistan agriculture cooperation’

September 18, 2021

Islamabad : Around 70 per cent of farmers in Pakistan are small land holders who largely fail to contribute in the overall economy due to lack of knowledge about modern practices, access to quality machinery, seed and pesticides, storage and reduction of post-harvest loses and affordable tools, transport and warehouses.

The issues of small farmers (who own less than 5 acres of land) were highlighted in a virtual validation workshop titled “A Better Livelihood for Smallholders under China-Pakistan Agriculture Cooperation” organised by (International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), FECO and National Rural Support Program (NRSP).

Experts from both countries looked into the impact of China Pakistan Economic Corridor on small farmers. They said that the agriculture sector was not given much importance in the first phase of CPEC but in the second phase which started in 2018, agriculture sector would be the prime focus of all initiatives.

In his opening remarks, Country Director IFAD Hubert Boirard said that Pakistan could offer vast opportunities in agriculture sector. He said that small farmers are big part of Pakistan’s agriculture sector and joint efforts are required to sustain them.

While talking about the progress on cooperation between China and Pakistan to enhance the capacity of small farmers and facilitate them with right technology and machinery, Dr. Wang Geng, Director FECC Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Yangzhijing, Dean of International Education, Xingjiang Agriculture University, said that main objective of the project is to establish and operate an effective knowledge generation and sharing platform to provide customized assistance in helping Pakistan to unleash transformative power of agriculture sector for country’s inclusive development.

“So far project has a very good progress despite COVID 19. We have achieved component one which is to diagnose and describe challenges and risk faced by Pakistan’s agriculture sector, especially small farmers,” said Dr. Wang Geng.

Dr Rashid Bajwa, CEO NRSP, highlighted the areas that require focus in order to break the cycle of poverty for small farmers so that they can earn a living from farming and agriculture. “For first time, focus is small land holders. Before, we discussed agriculture on generic basis while ignoring the potential and issues of small farmers,” he said.

Bajwa said that small farmers mainly face issues related to land preparation, sowing techniques, lack of technology, crop management and harvest and post-harvest issues. He suggested that, in this regard, focus areas shall be access to advance agriculture and irrigation technologies, provision of advanced hybrid and climate resilient seed verities, engagement of Chinese private sector, learning from Chinese experience, IT training of small farmers, increase export from Pakistan to China and technology transfer for disease control.