Dr Iqrar A Khan
Former vice-chancellor of Agriculture University, Faisalabad
“THE agriculture sector should have been given priority for two reasons: its current performance and its future promise. The sector has been the only saving grace — with a growth rate of 2.8 per cent — when all others have dipped into negative. It turned out to be an island of moderate success in otherwise a sea of failure — accentuating its potential even in the worst circumstances.
Precisely for this reason, the government should have invested more in it. It has not! As far as its potential goes, it is possibly the safest investment during and post-corona environment. With the pandemic hitting incomes of the majority of the people and pushing them below the poverty line, people are expected to reduce their spending to essentials only: what is more essential than food? Food production for agrarian economies like Pakistan not only ensures domestic peace but opens up the world market as well. But, the government seems to have missed the point! Under the circumstances, there should have been a Marshall Plan for the agri-sector. But the two allocations (Rs10 billion for locust battle and Rs12 billion for Food security) are essentially from last year’s commitments. There is no fresh initiative for the sector, nor any investment plan. How the government plans to get 4pc growth without any plan or investment, only official planners can explain.”
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, June 15th, 2020