At a recently held meeting the World Food Programme (WFP) Director informed Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change that rapidly changing weather patterns are posing serious threats to the farmer’s ability to grow more crops. With a promise to conduct a study that assesses climatic risks and food security, the meeting ended with the head of the ministry, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, recognising that the agricultural sector is under threat. With the majority of farmers already abandoning their profession, and shifting with much struggle to other sources of livelihood, the question that one must ask is if this occupation is one, that has been essential in making up the backbone of the economy, why isn’t the government being more persistent about catering to their needs?
In a country where the principle natural resources are land and water and where 21% of the GDP and 43% of the work force is directly or indirectly associated with agriculture, it is absurd to be taking this lightly. 67 percent of Pakistan’s population lives in rural areas and depends mainly on agriculture, and about 32 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. What is additionally alarming is that even with the depleting figures, where yield productions are substantially lower than the world average, the consumption of fertiliser per hectare in Pakistan, is higher. It is said that to bring about a one percent increase in crop productivity across Pakistan, an additional 0.47 billion cubic metre of water is required. Under the current problems that Pakistan is suffering through, including soil degradation, depletion of water resources, mismanagement of irrigation systems, the distribution of the land holdings and poor farming practices, it is highly unlikely that we as country will have an good future where agriculture is concerned. It is high time that the government, other than manifesting an image of their success through metro buses and laptops, fund projects that can aid irrigation systems, electricity supply and early warning systems for climate change.