ISLAMABAD  - Indiscriminate use of fertilizer, low productivity and yield in the crop sector are affecting growth in the agriculture sector.

According to an official working in Ministry of National Food Security and Research, substantial yield gaps offer enormous opportunities to increase production through improved soil and water management, use of quality and certified seeds, balanced and optimal use of fertilizers and proper plant protection measures.

The official said the improvement in agriculture extension services may also give incentive to farmers to produce more. The most important impediments being faced by the farmers community are: market inefficiencies of both input and output markets, lack of financial resources at the time of sowing and credit availability, high cost of inputs, issues of availability of quality seed and pesticides, non-availability of storage and cool chain facility for perishable crops and mal-practices in public sector procurement of crops.

The last year’s floods have helped in reaping short-term productivity gains in the agriculture sector which spearheaded the growth in the sector.

The sustainability of these gains in the medium-term is challenging and need extraordinary policy efforts. The agriculture is targeted to grow by 4 per cent in current financial year 2012-13 on the basis of expected contributions of major crops 3.8 per cent minor crops 4.5 per cent, livestock 4.2 per cent, fishery 2 per cent and forestry 2 per cent.

The projection for major crops assumes wheat and rice to reach their potential level achieved in the past under normal circumstances, and no drastic fall in cotton and sugarcane output. The underlying assumption for minor crops growth is revival of chilies, edible oil and gram for convergence to their normal production, and recovery in production of pulses.