There is no doubt that the government is making hectic efforts to put the economy back on track. However, the major targets being met are related to IMF Package resulting in a false sense of achievement. Does a clean chit from IMF mean that ‘all is well’ or there are more implications.

The biggest concern is whether closing financial gaps and playing with the quad of Taxes, Discount, Interests and Inflation will have a positive effect on the economy? Until and unless, Pakistan’s grassroots development is not sustainable, the country cannot produce any surpluses from cash to crops. This pincer at basic and cost effective reforms is still missing.

Analysis proves that the current process is primarily structural adjustment under pressure of International financial institutions.  If past is precedent, such programmes never achieved the desired objectives. Whenever Pakistan’s economy grew, it was primarily because of remittances, small and medium enterprises, entrepreneurships, value addition and agriculture. There is no denying that Pakistan will have to get out of the crises through its indigenous efforts and potential.  The present policies do not address any one of these indigenous elements.

The biggest issue is management, knowhow and awareness.

Losses of public sector enterprises are increasing. Public sector debt has surpassed the GDP. Foreign debt and sale of bills have an interest and payback time. As Pakistan’s debt increases, so do the liabilities with the ever hanging damocle of devaluation. Compounding external debt and unprecedented internal borrowing are traps Pakistan must defuse at the earliest.

Though it goes unnoticed, 18th amendment has a big role in restricting economic space for the federal government. It is the provinces where the largest chunk of revenue generation and sustainable economic growth lie. Unfortunately, the federal and provincial governments are working in isolation. One could curse Sindh for the reason that it is being run by an opposition government. The same cannot be said of Punjab, KPK and Balochistan that are being run by PTI and its allies. The provinces are lukewarm towards revenue collection and in neglect of very basic measures that can get the economic wheel spinning at grassroots. This includes SMEs, Value Addition, and Agriculture. This article will focus on the agrarian economy.

Agriculture with value addition has repeatedly pulled Pakistan out of economic crises after each bearish phase. The return on investments is six to 11 months and results are evident. This is one sector that can give a jumpstart to Pakistan’s faltering economy in just one season. Yet, the most obvious is not in the policy periscope.

For this to happen, there are certain measures that federal and provincial governments have to take to ensure optimum crop outputs, value addition and exportable food stuff. Right now Pakistan has low quality surpluses in wheat, rice and fruits that fail export standards. The question is not about influx of huge funds but of astute, honest and right practices.

Agriculture sector has faced neglect since 2005. It needs a serious and dedicated infusion of clarity, honesty and willpower to be made productive and profitable. Present agriculture practices captive to upstream and downstream agro industries are the biggest impediments to farm outputs and profit margins of farmers. Fertilizer and agro chemical industries control every sinew of the agriculture process resulting in very high cost inputs, low profits and bad quality. Farmers are hostage to these companies and middlemen. The most telling damage is the environmental disaster created by unchecked use of fertilizers, chemicals and water.

These companies through their agents are encamped in every sinew of policy making from politicians to departments. They just don’t allow the low cost high yield, quality agriculture revolution to take place. So far, they have succeeded in stalling large-scale natural agriculture practices in Pakistan.

Fertilizer and chemical industries are the reincarnation of the military industrial complex of first and Second World Wars that made explosives and chemical agents. Post Second World War, they diversified into fertilizer, agro chemical and GMO industries. They quickly spread through the third world and the developing countries to artificially boost production. Repeated applications have resulted in infertile soils. To offset this malaise, genetically modified crops (GMO) were introduced that have caused further environmental damage.

In India, Brazil and Australia, the farmers having met their Waterloo, are reintroducing natural methods of cultivation with non-genetic varieties. The results are a resounding success, Farm inputs reduced by 90% and outputs increased by 300 % within three successive crops. Isn’t this amazing that Brazil is the biggest producer of organic sugar in the world?

The pioneers of this natural agriculture process in Brazil, Americas, Philippines, Indian Bengal and Australia are none other than Pakistani farmers who have shared their expertise abroad. Like prophets rejected in their own land, these entrepreneurs are alien to Pakistan. In a mafia dominated market, they have a very small but courageous footprint. Slowly and steadily, they are fighting back. As word spreads, there are more converts. To understand this simple natural process, we need to know some biology and chemistry.

Agriculture soil has three layers. The top layer is exposed to sunshine, oxygen, harsh weather conditions and pests. These do not help agriculture. The issue is overcome with effective mulching that provides nutrients as also controls pests. As a result, there is no need for burning stacks that cause smog all over Pakistan in winters.

The middle layer belongs to anaerobic bacteria very sensitive to sunlight, flooding and oxygen. These bacteria produce nutrients for the plant root system, stems and grains/fruits. Another advantage of the middle layer and bacteria is storage of carbon dioxide below the soil. Carbon dioxide is an important ingredient of natural nutrients and photosynthesis.  In simple words, this layer is the fertilizer factory of the plants. No artificial fertilizer is needed. Once this gas is released due to deep ploughing, it causes global warming. Deep ploughing, flood inundation, fertilizer and chemicals kill anaerobic bacteria. Once carbo dioxide dissolves n water, it becomes an acid altering the pH of the soil.

The third layer is supposed to be moist that causes deeper and stronger roots and water conservation. Flood irrigation destroys all three layers leading to shorter roots and stunted growth with reduced outputs.

The method is simple and economical.

In the first phase, the ground is levelled and changed into raised beds of 4-4 ½ feet width. On each side are water channels with a controlled and timed release of water that does not inundate any layer. It seeps into the third layer. Water conservation is 70%.

In the second phase, seeds are mechanically planted. As a result, the seed input per acre is reduced from 40-60 Kgs to 3 KG. Mulch layer can be put before or after planting.

The results are unbelievable. Roots are deeper; stems more and thicker, while yield is 2-3 times more than conventional farming. The quality and weight of grains and fruits surpasses organic standards. It is miraculous.

In Pakistan, farmers experimented with rice crops on raised beds with no inundation. The quality and quantity surpasses all conventional yields.

The entire process is called Payedar Qudarti Nizam e Kasht (PQNK). It is pioneered by Pakistani scientists but restricted. This is not because of any lack of will but because all odds are packed against them. Therefore only the few and brave are risking. If the government backs PQNK, agriculture revolution in Pakistan can be achieved within three seasons.

But there is a problem. Fertilizer factories and agro chemical businesses will run out of customers. They are the biggest beneficiaries of stunted agriculture.