ISLAMABAD - Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to pay more attention to the development of agriculture sector for improving the economy.
Muhammad Ali Mirza, Acting President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that agriculture is the backbone of our economy, but due to lack of due attention, the sector has not been able to achieve per acre yield of wheat, rice, sugarcane and other crops up to international standards.
He said Pakistan is among top ten producers of wheat with around 25 million ton output last year, but its per hectare yield is just around 2.6 ton as compared with China’s 4.7 ton and UK’s 7.7 ton. Similarly, Pakistan’s per hectare yield in rice is just 3.1 ton while it is 6.5 ton for China, 4.2 ton for Bangladesh and 4.1 ton for Sri Lanka as per report of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Muhammad Ali Mirza said that agriculture is vital to economic growth and development of Pakistan as it provides income to about 70 per cent rural households, absorbs 45 per cent of labor force, contributes more than 20 per cent to GDP and supports the growth of many other sectors of the economy.
He said improving per acre yield of agriculture assumes additional significance for Pakistan as it would improve exports of agro products leading to lowering of fiscal deficit, meet domestic needs at affordable prices, supply better raw material to agro-based industry, especially cotton textile industry which is the largest subsector of manufacturing sector and contribute to uplifting the living standards of rural population.
ICCI acting president said it is encouraging that government has announced some good incentives in the new budget for agriculture including removal of customs duty on import of plastic coverings and mulch films, anti-insect net, exempting high irrigation equipment and equipment for green farming from sales tax and reducing sales tax on tractors.
However, this sector is facing many serious problems and government should provide easy credit and cheap electricity to farmers, facilitate introduction of latest technology, spend more on farm-to-market infrastructure development and allocate more funds for agriculture research and development so that our agriculture could improve its productivity and Pakistan could achieve better economic growth.