HYDERABAD: Policy consultants of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have said that implementation of first-ever agriculture policy of the Sindh government would require well-defined procedure and added that action plan for implementation of the policy needed capacity and adaptation.
They also called for investing in research and development to achieve required target of overall seven per cent growth in Sindh’s agriculture sector, which is currently three per cent. They were speaking at a strategic planning workshop on Sindh Agriculture Policy 2018-30 at a local hotel organised by the agriculture extension wing of the Sindh agriculture department here on Tuesday. The workshop was organised for agriculture officers/officials.
Genevieve Hussain, a policy consultant, talked about salient features and objectives of the agriculture policy that would be implemented from next year after it was adopted in April this year by the Sindh cabinet.
The policy was drafted as a component of World Bank-funded Sindh Agriculture Growth Project (SAGP). She said that an action plan was to be prepared by line departments for consideration of the Sindh Agriculture Policy Implementation Commission in early 2019.
She said that agriculture policy sought to raise the growth rate by four per cent to have overall seven per cent growth in Sindh to create jobs and income from agriculture.
Other objectives aim to reduce malnutrition, poverty and food insecurity by half along with managing natural resources sustainably, especially water resources and soil. She said that resilience was to be ensured and climate-responsive agriculture to adapt to climate change was another goal.
She said that between 1972 and 2000 average growth in agriculture was four per cent and from year 2000 to 2017 it dropped to three per cent due to high cost of production. It needs to be raised. She said that high-nutrient foods like pulses, milk, fish, meat and vegetables have actually become too expensive for consumers to afford.
Discussing growth in farm sector, she said that regulatory framework needed to be reviewed to create enabling environment that was conducive to private sector’s investment in agriculture.
Sometimes laws, legislation, regulatory regime and even subsidies need to be looked into to make sure incentives were there for private investment.
She said that uptake of agriculture technology, research and development and modernisation of agriculture was another way to achieve growth.
She said that agriculture policy adopted in April 2018 was to align with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and it should be started in order to be implemented quickly. She said steps towards its implementation required regulatory changes, capacity development for departments concerned and technological changes. She said that all these issues would be addressed in the action plan.
Ejaz Qureshi, another FAO consultant, pointed out that growth in China’s agriculture sector came with some policy initiatives.
He said that this helped China overcome poverty adding that India was focussing on its farm sector as well. He said that institutional reforms and interventions were essential for achieving growth. He expressed concern over the fact that mostly Sindh’s land was waterlogged.
Strategic management has to be systematic and it should also be adjustable in local context. He said that timeline must be fixed for achieving objectives.
The Sindh agriculture policy aims to ensure efficient, prosperous and resilient agriculture sector that could provide good income and decent employment to those involved in production, processing, transport and storage.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018