Islamabad - Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Chairman Standing Committee on Horticulture & Agriculture Produce, Ahmad Jawad has said that robust agricultural growth and productivity increases are decisive to sustained economic development.

Despite this widely acknowledged role of agriculture in the economic development, many policy makers, policy analysts and some academicians in the country are of the view that there is little need to invest in agriculture. Strong public institutions, better research and policies that explore the potential of ignored commodities such as dairy products and horticulture could help improve Pakistan’s agriculture growth.

Addressing the agri entrepreneurs, Jawad said that public sector institutions must take the responsibility. “Rapid agricultural growth requires high quality public institutions,” he said. “The private sector can supplement and support at certain level, but when you talk about national coverage for 3 million small commercial farmers, you need a strong public sector.” He said that US farmers change the wheat and maize varieties they use almost every three years because of extensive research on crop yields and better seed varieties. “But similar research institutions are almost absent in Pakistan.”

Jawad emphasised the need to focus on the unexplored potential of dairy industry and horticulture to push the overall agriculture growth rate as opposed to only focusing on the growth rate of wheat crop.

It’s time Ministry of Commerce & Planning Commission may draft & implement horticulture export policy for the period of 2015-20 on priority and enlist the yearly allocation in the PSDP (Public Sector Development Programme).

We must understand “Country like Pakistan, agriculture growth is twice as more important in employment growth than Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth”.

Pakistan’s policymakers need to target the small commercial farmers in order to increase agricultural output.

Now, in order to track the more holistic contribution from, I think the need is to build on the crucial first step which incorporates the contribution from agro-based industries. Now, the computation of the contribution from agro-based services along the entire supply chain will be more challenging but not impossible. Consequently, the contributions should be added to that from the agriculture sector to provide a more relevant indication of the real impact of this emphasis on agriculture as the engine of growth.

From a policy and institutional standpoint, most government interventions and programmes are production-centric so much so that the farming/production subsystem is not well linked or integrated with the post-harvest subsystem. Thus we need to consider value-adding potential at each level of the supply chain when agriculture is viewed in its broader and more holistic, agribusiness perspective. Now the challenge is how to balance the interests of the key players along the supply chain with that of the consumers and the nation, while addressing internal structural and institutional weaknesses. Therefore, Governments would have to formulate policies, strategies and programmes that would enable farmers to meet investment requirements of new market channels; he viewed.