Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt on Sunday said availability of cheap credit to farmers can accelerate development of agricultural sector and ensure food security. Developed nations facilitate farmers through cheap credit to improve their standard of living but third world countries continue to ignore farming community.

Pakistan lags behind as farming communities still prefer informal financial sources to formal financial markets to get loans that are costly but easily accessible, said Shahid Rasheed Butt.

He said that affordable financial resources can facilitate agricultural growth by improving productivity which will promote the overall economic growth by supporting the other critical sectors.

Relationship between finances and development is evident therefore farmers cannot be left of the mercy of informal lenders, he said, adding that government must pay attention to agri-reforms, encourage R&D, design new products for rural population and pay attention to rising input costs.

Financial institutions should provide affordable loans to farmers that will automatically create demand for financial services in rural areas opening new window of opportunity. Government and State Bank should revisit the financial reforms to improve the efficiency of agriculture sector after studying the structure of the economy. Province of Punjab deserves extra attention which produces around 70 % of the wheat, 80 % of cotton, 50 % of sugarcane, 40 % of rice, over 70 % of the buffaloes and 50 % of the cattle.

People will remain insecure despite 25 % of cultivable land and one of the finest irrigation systems of the world if immediate steps including a five year plan for agri development were delayed, he said.