Agriculture, one of the major sectors of Pakistan’s economy, gets marginal share in the federal budget of 2021-22, complained agriculturists and other stakeholders.
“The federal government is too late in terms of creating fiscal space for the agriculture sector in its budget for FY22,” said Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) former head of the committee on agriculture Ahmad Jawad while talking to The Express Tribune.
Despite two-digit inflation and record growth in major agriculture crops in the outgoing fiscal year 2020-21, the government once again failed to provide sufficient funds and incentives to the sector, except Rs200,000 loan facility without interest payment for small farmers on purchase of tractors and other agricultural machinery and Rs150,000 loan facility without interest payment for sowing of all crops given to small farmers.
“The government has decided to provide Rs200,000 for machinery and tractor purchase, however, these machines are way too expensive,” said Agriculture Republic Co-Founder of Aamer Hayat Bhandara. He added that the government did not allocate anything for cotton; moreover, it also forgot to provide electricity relief for agriculture tube well system. Last year’s performance was affected by several reasons, however, this year, performance of some crops was better but prices in the international market of wheat and sugar were on a rise, Bahandara added.
“The government has acknowledged that in order to control inflation and food security, agriculture sector must be developed on modern lines to improve yield per acre,” said All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Importers and Merchant Association Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed.
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“Despite Pakistan being an agrarian economy, it is importing food on a large-scale and thus the country faces a challenge of food shortage, which indicates our failure in meeting our food requirements,” Ahmed added.
On Friday (June 11), while unveiling the budget for the next fiscal year, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin announced a national agriculture emergency programme “which is a welcoming step” but the government has allocated a fund worth Rs12 billion only for the development of the agriculture sector, which is inadequate.
Ahmed added that the government is strongly recommended that for the development of the agriculture sector a minimum of Rs50 billion should have been allocated, which should be enhanced to Rs100 billion gradually.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13h, 2021.