LAHORE, Dec 27: The agricultural sector has suffered Rs219 billion losses in year 2012 for failing to achieve production targets of major crops leading the country to food insecurity, pushing rural poverty, price hike and unemployment up.

Agri Forum Pakistan Chairman Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal said in a press conference here on Thursday that the total production of agriculture and livestock was Rs4,469 billion per annum which constituted 22.34 per cent of the national GDP.

Pakistan produces food crops worth Rs1,050 billion per annum including wheat, rice, barley, maize and others. Cash crops (sugarcane, cotton and tobacco) add Rs750 billion per annum to the economy.

Similarly, pulses are produced of Rs50 billion per annum, oilseed crops of Rs90 billion, vegetables of Rs103 billion, fruits of Rs213 billion, milk of Rs1,104 billion, beef of Rs513 billion, mutton of Rs338 billion, poultry of Rs126 billion and eggs of Rs131 billion per annum.

Mr Mughal said the wheat during 2012 fell short of around 1.5 million tons of its target of 25 million tons, rice production remained at 6.1 million tons against 6.5 million tons target and cotton target of 15 million bales, which incidentally is stagnant for 21 years, fell short by 1.4 million bales. “Pakistan’s largest export sector will have to import 1.4 million bales either from India or China to meet its requirement,” he said.

Coming to minor crops, he said the gram was considered to be only source of cheap proteins for the poor. Though the current provincial minister belongs to the area of gram production, still the gram production fell like never before.

He said the per acre yield of gram in 1948 was six maunds per acre, when there were no research facilities, but in year 2012 it remained 2.2 maunds per acre. Four districts of Punjab -- Layyah, Bhakkar, Mianwali and Khushab -- had suffered Rs22 billion losses during 2012 due to decline in the gram production.

He said that Punjab remained the worst-affected as it suffered Rs40 billion loss due to decline in wheat production, Rs17 billion in rice, Rs39 billion in cotton and Rs22 billion in gram crop.

In total, the province suffered Rs118 billion losses due to decline in these four crops, he said and added that these losses would add to poverty in rural areas, unemployment and lawlessness.

Mr Mughal said in the livestock sector, which has always registered a growth of 3.2 per cent per annum but this year it remained 1.3 per cent, milk could register only 1.43 per cent increase, which is insufficient to meet the requirement of our ever-increasing population.

Similarly, he said the country failed to achieve the required growth in mutton and beef sector. However, he said the poultry sector achieved slightly but not sufficient still.

He concluded by saying that in Pakistan one person was getting only five eggs on an average per month while this ratio in India was 21 eggs and in Europe 63 eggs per month.

He said the meat was available to only around 1.38 kilograms per month to each person while in Europe it was 19 kilograms per month.

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