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THE Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s PTI-led coalition government has proposed a Rs3.99bn investment for the agriculture development for the next financial year, claiming to make the province self-sufficient in food.

However, the allocation for the agriculture sector as percentage of total provincial ADP FY2017-18 fell to 2.5pc from 3.9pc projected for the outgoing fiscal year. When compared withagriculture’s share of 24pc of the provincial GDP and 50pc of the employed labour force, the sector’s development spending is nominal.

In the last four years budget, agriculture got only 1.5-2.5pc of the amount earmarked for the province’s ADP.

The budget documents show that almost a similar amount was allocated for agriculture last year, but later on it was revised downward by diverting funds to other sectors. In the year 2015-16, an amount of Rs1.829bn was utilised.

For FY2017-18, as many as 38 projects/schemes have been identified on which Rs3.99bn will be spent. Of these, the target share of Rs2.88bn or 72pc of the total outlay has been set apart for the ongoing projects. In all, 21 new projects worth Rs1.17bn are included.

The ADP aims to raise the capacity of seed production units, promote plantation of olive samplings, provide agriculture implements/machinery for small farmers and build high-efficiency irrigation system. However, no target is set to increase the crop yields or livestock development.

Out of the total 21 new projects, only four to five are related directly to crop farming while the remaining are for livestock development.

For FY2017-18, as many as 38 projects/schemes have been identified on which Rs3.99bn will be spent. Of these Rs2.88bn or 72pc of the total outlay has been set apart for the ongoing projects

To raise production capacity of seed units, an amount of Rs45m is allocated in the ADP, while for the establishment of an agriculture campus in the constituency of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, a sum of Rs120m has been earmarked. KP is heavily dependent for seeds availability on Punjab.

Since over 90pc of the landholdings are below five acres, an amount of Rs425m has been earmarked for model farm centres to purchase 11,500 small agriculture implements for distribution among growers. An amount of Rs611m has been allocated for plantation of 5m olive samplings.

The highest amount of Rs1.8bn has been provided for Gomal Zam Dam Command Area Development and On-Farm Water Management. Under this project, an area of 163,000 acres will be brought under cultivation in districts of D. I. Khan and Tank.

The province has cultivable area of 2.96m ha, but only 1.87m ha are under the plough. The remaining 1.088m ha, or 37pc of the cultivable land, is culturable waste. A meagre amount of Rs45m has been provided to bring culturable waste under plough.

Water storage, conservation and management is another challenging area in the province, for which an amount of Rs135m has been earmarked for improving and lining of watercourses and construction of water storage tanks.

Under this project, 8,350 watercourses and 100 storage tanks will be constructed.

Market access is another challenge. Small holdings scattered all over the province are unable to have direct access to markets. The post-harvest losses are around 40pc of the total production or at Rs12bn per annum. There is no processing facility for value-addition or preservation of fruits and vegetables. The absence of a proper system for storage of agriculture produce results in sharp seasonal fluctuations in food prices. There is no provision in the budget to resolve these problems.

However, for agriculture research stations and institutes an amount of Rs75m has been allocated.

Under the new schemes, Rs137m has been allocated for land conservation and water harvesting, and Rs140m for agriculture technology enhancement activities.

The livestock sector will receive: Rs35m for characterisation of cattle genetic resources of KP through genetic markers and molecular techniques; Rs100m for construction of buildings for existing civil veterinary dispensaries; Rs50m for establishment of civil veterinary dispensaries.

It will also receive Rs50m for milk quality testing labs at divisional headquarters; Rs50m for pet clinics at divisional headquarters; Rs15m for setting up veterinary research and disease investigation laboratory at Torghar; Rs80m for Livestock and Veterinary Research and Disease Investigation Centre at Bannu and Rs40m for improvement of existing livestock breeding farms.

In the fishing sector, Rs20m have been proposed for introduction of cage fish culture on pilot basis, Rs15m for provision of academic and research facilities in fish aquaculture at the University of Agriculture Peshawar, and Rs50m for development of fish hatcheries. Similarly, to support women farmers in kitchen gardening and value-addition of fruits and vegetables, an amount of Rs10m is allocated.

To complete the ongoing projects in fisheries sector, Rs66m has been allocated for development of farm fisheries; Rs4.8m for establishment of 100 trout fish ponds under public private partnership in Malakand and Hazara Division and Rs5.6m for promotion of carp fisheries.

Other ongoing projects for which funds were made in the budget are Rs100m for mass vaccination treatment and artificial insemination; Rs25m for setting up of livestock research and development station at Swabi.

For expansion of purebred buffalo breeding farm in D.I. Khan and improvement and conservation of Azikheli buffalo breed with establishment of dairy technology facilities: Rs89m and Rs27m for genetic improvement of local goats through cross breeding with Saanen Goat in Malakand region.

Under the ongoing project, an amount of Rs100m is allocated for introduction of certification facilities for quality assurance and creation of market linkages for agriculture interventions; Rs62m for provision of pumping machinery for productivity enhancement.

For reclamation of degraded soils through soil conservation practices Rs56m have been allocated; Rs675m for small farmers land development/reclamation and Rs15m for strengthening and rehabilitation of Animal Husbandry Inservice Training Institute (AHITI), Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, June 12th, 2017