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Land of the lost Problems with Pakistan

  • Mohsin Ali
  • May, 2019
  • 369
  • Agriculture

WE’RE LIVING OFF THE FAT OF THE FERTILE LAND AND YET THE LAND’S BEING WASTED AWAY IN MANY WAYS, SAYS MOHSIN ALI

This is an edited extract from Mr. Ali’s original contribution, Agriculture problems in Pakistan and their solutions, which makes up part of the 2009 CSS Pakistan affairs past paper III, part II

The economy of a state depends on three sectors: agriculture, industry and commerce.

These three are interrelated as the progress or retrogress of one sector effects the other two. Pakistan is an agricultural state and so agriculture gains are of importance than any other sector. The importance of this sector is manifold since it feeds people, provides raw material for industry and generates foreign trade.

Foreign exchange earned from merchandise exports is 45 percent of total exports of Pakistan. It contributes 26 percent of the gross domestic product and 52 percent of the total populace is getting its livelihood from it. Up to 67.5 percent of people are living in the country’s rural areas being directly involved in it. There are two crops in Pakistan: autumn and winter crops.

Although the agricultural sector is facing problems in Pakistan, a major chunk of money comes from this sector.

CAUSES

There is a string of factors leading to the agriculture mess we have been passed on to since the 1040s.

a) Hardly any mechanism has been adopted to stop soil erosion and even after harvesting, nothing has been done to improve or restore the soil energy. So, the soil fertility is decreasing daily. The thickness of fertile layer of soil in Pakistan is more than six inches, but the average yield is lower than that of other countries where layer of fertile soil is only four inches

b) Water wastage is horribly high in our country. The archaic method of flood irrigation is still in practice wasting 50 percent to 60 percent of water. A new irrigation system, called the ‘drip irrigation system’, has been put in place in many parts of the world. This not only saves water but also gives proper quantity of water

c) Because of outdated methods of cultivation and harvesting, Pakistan has a low yield per acre and this means the average crop in Pakistan is just one-fourth of that of advanced states. Whereas Nepal, India and Bangladesh are using modern scientific methods to increase their yield per acre. For this purpose, these states are using modern machines to improve their yield

d) Small farmers are increasing in our country as lands are dividing generation by generation. So, there are numerous farmers who own only four acres of land. These small farmers do not get facilities to buy seeds, pesticides, fertilisers, etc. Also, a large area of land is owned by feudal lords

e) Water-logging and salinity is increasing too. No proper steps have been taken to curb it. As the storage capacity of the dams is decreasing, the water availability per acre is also decreasing. Therefore, farmers are setting up more tube wells to water their crops. This is why salinity is becoming a major issue in most parts of the Punjab and Sindh

f) The focus is more on land, crops and yield problems are always ignored. Worst still, most of our farmers are poor and illiterate

g) The only means of communication in rural areas is television or radio. So, these mass-communication resources can be effective to air programmes linked to new agriculture techniques and allied sciences. But these programmes should be telecast in the regional or local languages. But the communication gap between well qualified experts and farmers has not been narrowed yet

Undoubtedly, Pakistan is rich in fertile land yet the land is being wasted in various ways. Up to 79.6 percent of the land is cultivable whereas only 20.43 percent is cultivated. The reason is broken into two parts: a major area is owned by feudal lords and since it is difficult to manage huge areas, only that part is cultivated which is easier to manage; the rest is left ignored.

And the second part is the rise of industrialisation which has threatened this sector. People are migrating to cities and cities are expanding, thus new towns and colonies are being built on fertile lands. On top of that, the irrigation system needs improvement since about 67 percent of the land is irrigated with canals.

Apart from these issues, the monopoly of foreign bigwigs and false policies of governments should not be ignored.

SOLUTIONS

Nevertheless, not all hope is lost. The government needs to introduce steps to tackle the problems. These steps are:

a) feudalism should be abolished and lands given to poor farmers. This will increase the productivity and per acre yi...

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