The Pakistani government has set a target of achieving 3.5% growth in the agriculture sector for the ongoing fiscal year 2023-24 to boost the country’s GDP by the same percentage points.
“The government's emphasis on revitalising the agricultural industry is a crucial step towards not only ensuring food security but also boosting the country’s GDP,” said Tariq Sultan, a principal scientific officer at the National Agriculture Research Centre.
He said, “The minister of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R) has expressed optimism about achieving this challenging goal. Major crops like rice and cotton are the main focus, along with a promising future for livestock development, all of which are predicted to provide a substantial contribution to the desired expansion in the GDP.”
“Despite the devastating floods, the agriculture sector has shown slight growth of 1.55%, with positive growth registered in the production of wheat, maize, sugarcane and oilseeds. The livestock sector has also grown by 3.78% from the previous year’s 2.25%.”
“The anticipated surge in cotton production, with an estimated 126.6% increase over the last year, and the significant rise in rice production underscore the agricultural sector's potential contributions to economic growth. The noteworthy 64% increase in the share of livestock in the agriculture sector also signals a diversification strategy, adding resilience to the overall sector.”
“However, despite these encouraging signs, the larger economic picture throws doubt on the viability of achieving the planned GDP increase. Challenges such as high interest rates and restricted foreign exchange reserves are hurting imports,” he said.
Sultan said that it was vital to recognise the complex challenges facing the agriculture sector that are affecting productivity. He emphasised the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to achieve the desired outcomes in agriculture.
“Addressing the prevailing economic challenges, including inflation and interest rates, is essential to creating an enabling environment for sustained growth. The success of the agriculture sector, crucial for employment and food security, hinges on striking a delicate balance between targeted policies and broader economic reforms,” the NARC scientist underscored.