LAHORE-The Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) has called for promoting corporate farming and agriculture research that will not only prove to be an instant solution to farmers’ financial woes but also ensure food security in the country, besides strengthening the overall economy.
PBF Vice Presidents Jahanara Wattoo and Chaudhry Ahmad Jawad, and Chairman (Sindh) Mir Murad Talpur expressed these views while talking to media here on Sunday. PBF Vice President Jahanara Wattoo said that last year’s flash floods had severely affected farmers’ community and the overall agriculture sector, and also put the national food security at risk. The agriculture sector contributed substantially to country’s GDP, and farmers had always played an instrumental role in resolving every crisis the nation encountered, she observed and suggested that it was necessary to implement an emergency agriculture programme and provide farmers with an instant solution to their issues. In this regard, she added, public and private sector must play their due role in making improvements in agriculture sector. Both sides should devise plans and make investments to transform the agri sectors on modern farming and techniques, ensuring high yields with low water consumption and other inputs, she maintained.
Jahanara Wattoo said, “Women also have great role in our agriculture and without taking them aboard, the development of this vital sector is impossible.” She also emphasised that media should raise awareness and dispel gender stereotypes obstructing development of various sectors, which were important for economic growth. PBF Vice President Chaudhry Ahmad Jawad said that flash floods wreaked havoc in agriculture by washing away standing crops, livestock and other infrastructures in all the provinces. Though donors organisations and the governments had provided relief and rehabilitation support, the agriculture sector needed equal opportunities and even more support from the public sector.
Ahmad Jawad asserted that it was becoming increasingly challenging to satisfy the requirements of the expanding population due to obsolete farming methods, and lack of research and productivity in the agri sector. In this crisis-like situation, he suggested the government to increase agri-research budget, and lay a greater focus on horticulture and other modern farming methods to enhance agri produces which guarantee food security and help increase country’s agri exports. He added, “We pay a lot for food imports; however, we can save this money by reducing our food import, and spend this hefty amount to safeguard farmers and enhance Pakistan’s agricultural sector in order to achieve self-sufficiency.” PBF Chairman (Sindh chapter) Mir Murad Talpur said that year 2022 had been extremely difficult for the people of Pakistan, particularly for farmers in Sindh, who faced widespread economic losses. “Pakistan’s economy is based on agriculture. The government and private sector are determined to rescue it from its current predicament. With the recovery of agriculture sector, the industry could be revived speedily, and I hope, the situation will improve soon,” he observed.
Talpur was of the view that private sector could play an eminent role in ensuring food security by investing in rural corporate farming, adding that business sector had connections to international resources and technology that could be used to develop agriculture. “Corporate farming can help increase cultivation area substantially. Public-private partnership is direly needed to promote this farming at a fast pace,” he added.