KARACHI - Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FPCCI) Regional Standing Committee on Horticulture Exports Chairman Ahmad Jawad has lamented that the output of the agriculture sector has contracted in the outgoing fiscal year.

Recalling sharp decline recorded in the agriculture sector’s growth during Musharraf regime, one-and-a-half decade back, because of severe drought, Jawad said once again downward trend was being noticed in the cotton, rice and maize produce by 27.8 percent,-2.7 percent and –o.4 percent, respectively.

He demanded the federal and provincial governments to immediately assist the agriculture sector monetarily, in true spirit, so that the farmers could contribute to the national economy instead of protesting every day on roads.

He regretted that no concrete allocations were made in the last three budgets for the agriculture sector with the view to reduce the post harvest losses and increase exports. “Pakistan’s economic revival is dependent on agriculture sector’s growth,” he said, and reminded, “Agriculture is a backbone of Pakistan’s economy.”

“We need to understand that economic renaissance in Pakistan is totally dependent on agriculture sector’s growth, and as such Pakistan urgently needs an agriculture infrastructure to improve the balance of trade and put the economy back on track,” he emphasised.

Jawad asked the Finance Ministry to allocate at least Rs15 billion for the sector in the upcoming budget, under PSDP, to establish the required agriculture infrastructure.

He said our agriculture sector faced huge post-harvest losses, amounting to 40 percent, when compared with the global benchmark.

“Pakistan’s sugarcane yield is 40 percent lower against the global benchmarks; wheat yield is 20 percent lower, adversely affecting the farmers’ earning capability,” he said, adding, “However, the exports of Pakistani dates, if properly processed and packaged, could fetch between $200 and $240 million per year.”

 Currently, Pakistan’s horticulture sector is contributing only 0.3 percent to global exports due to lack of infrastructure and research.