World Bank’s SMART programme to enhance crop productivity

LCCI chief stresses need for improving agriculture sector growth

Our Correspondent July 20, 2019
The logo of the World Bank. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: The objective of the World Bank Strengthening Markets for Agriculture and Rural Transformation in Punjab (SMART) programme is to enhance productivity of crop and livestock farmers in the province, said a delegation of the World Bank.

A four-member World Bank team, headed by Senior Agriculture Economist Johannes Jansen, made the remarks while meeting Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Almas Hyder on Friday.

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Speaking on the occasion, Hyder emphasised that agriculture was a vital sector of Pakistan’s economy as it contributed 18.5% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and provided employment to 38.5% of the total labour force.

“Yet the growth rate of agriculture sector in 2018-19 was just 0.85%,” he said while voicing concern. “If Pakistan wants to achieve a growth rate of 6-7% and become a competitive economy in the region, the growth of agriculture sector needs to be enhanced.”

Regretting that there was no genetic modification programme for developing the livestock sector, he stressed that genetic improvement was required in livestock breeds in order to improve productivity of the dairy sector.

He suggested that agricultural marketing laws should be amended so that large companies could procure agricultural commodities directly from the farmers rather than middlemen.

The LCCI president was of the view that the agriculture sector should be governed by free market mechanism.

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“The role of government should be restricted to being a regulator, which ensures food security, and it should not be a buyer and seller of agricultural commodities,” he said. “Similarly, export laws for agricultural commodities need to be relaxed.”

He was of the view that there should be freedom to export the surplus agricultural products after catering to domestic demand. Following that, global buyers would consider Pakistan as an important agricultural market, he remarked.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2019.

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