• Agro sector of the North East (Editorial)

    Since the economy of the North East is basically agro-based, the primary reason for its poverty is agricultural backwardness. The very fact that the region has to look after 3.8 per cent of India's population with only 2.7 per cent of national income earned by its economy shows what poverty-distance it has to meet in order to catch up with the rest of the country. The region's per capita income-distance from all-India average has increased from Rs 1,706 in 1993-94 to Rs 7,000 in 2005-06.

  • Bird flu costs poultry sector Tk 4,165cr: report

    Bird flu has caused an estimated loss of Tk 4,165 crore to the poultry sector in the country, said a report of the poultry industry coordination committee on Wednesday. The government formed the committee comprising leaders of poultry related sectors and government officials, and assigned it to assess the loss of the poultry sector caused by the bird flu.

  • Rs 168.8 billion agriculture credit disbursed during 2006-07

    During 2006-07, a record disbursement of agricultural credit took place. Against credit allocation of Rs 160 billion, an amount of Rs 168.8 billion was disbursed, which reflects 22.8 percent increase as compared to last year's disbursement. This was disclosed in an Annual Performance Report (2006-07) of Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal), which was released recently. According to the report, the Public Sector Development Project (PSDP) of Minfal for the year 2006-07 included 61 projects. Out of which 41 were ongoing and 20 new projects to support policy objectives set at the national level. The original PSDP allocation was Rs 11,800 million. The allocation was revised to Rs 13,600 million after mid year PSDP review. However, from the enhanced revised allocation, Rs 329.5 million was not released to Minfal. Moreover, Rs 852.4 million savings indicated by Minfal for re-appropriation for its mega project, 'National Programme for Improvement of Watercourses' was diverted to other Ministry. As such, the Minfal's allocation was reduced to Rs 12,418.1 million. Out of this amount, Rs 1,741.9 million approved for re-appropriation for different projects by the P&D Division was also not released which were finally surrendered. Thus Rs 10,676.2 million was released to Minfal's project upto June, 2007 and against it, the utilisation was of Rs 10,244.37 million which is 96 percent of the amount released. Minfal report mentioned that the other key achievements of the government, during the year 2006-07, have been signing of agriculture specific MoUs/Agreements/Protocols with friendly countries and of MFN status for agricultural exports with various other countries. A number of Joint Ministerial Commissions (JMC) were set-up relating to agricultural development, and policy-level negotiations were undertaken under the WTO regime as well as Safta. Minfal report revealed that government recognises the role of agricultural growth in boosting overall growth of the economy and reducing poverty. For achieving higher growth in agriculture, priority objectives set by Minfal include enhanced productivity to ensure food security, efficient import substitution and export orientation. Within these broad objectives, the main element is to accelerate growth by narrowing existing yield gaps, promotion of agriculture related business enterprises, provision of quality support services to farmers, and market reforms to increase profitability of agriculture for small farmers. Moreover, attention is being focused on increasing the production of major crops like wheat, cotton, sugarcane, rice and maize through remunerative market-based prices, evolving new high-yielding varieties requiring low inputs through adaptive research, help improving market and storage facilities with public-private nexus, and providing greater access to farmers for optimal technologies and seasonal credit. Such far-reaching objectives require efficient agriculture institutions to effectively respond to growing and diversifying needs of farmers to accelerate productivity and growth at the grassroots. Minfal has initiated several reforms of the agriculture sector institutions to promote decentralisation and liberalisation of agriculture services. For reforming the research system, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (Parc) is being restructured with more autonomy to the Board of Governors both in formulation of research policy and financial empowerment. Similarly, in agriculture extension, reforms are being conceived to improve research and extension linkages in the backdrop of further decentralising extension services at the union council level. To face the future challenges of policy analysis, APCom's mandate has been redefined to play a meaningful role in the Ministry, priority focusing on agriculture policy issues, monitoring and analysis of international trade agreements for suggesting measures to improve Pakistan agriculture's competitiveness in the global market. To support agribusiness development in the livestock sector, the Prime Minister, in principle, has approved a National Livestock Development Policy. A new market-friendly wheat policy is in place, key elements of which include free wheat marketing, voluntarily selling by farmers at the guaranteed minimum price, and maintaining a clear distinction between operational reserve and strategic reserve by the government. A comprehensive fisheries policy has been prepared and presented to the Prime Minister. In addition to above mentioned policy reforms, Minfal has also undertaken a project for the strengthening of capacity for improvement of agricultural statistics in Pakistan. The objectives of the project are to strengthen the capacity of Provincial Crop Reporting Service (CRS) by providing them motorcycles, vehicles, computers, office equipment, technical equipment and O&M cost for field operations. It will help the CRS in provision of timely agricultural statistics for policy formulation and early warning system. Efforts are underway to augment development component of agriculture through continued supply of financial resources for agriculture sector development to support policy objectives set at the national level. The agriculture sector performed well as compared to the previous year and growth in the agriculture sector bounced back from 1.6 percent in 2005-06 to 5.0 percent in the 2006-07. The major crops registered an impressive growth of 7.6 percent. The minor crops grew by 1.1 percent slightly up from the last year's growth of 0.4 percent. The livestock sector grew by 4.3 percent during 2006-07 as against 7.5 percent in 2005-06. The wheat production of 23.295 million tons during 2006-07 is highest ever in the country's history, registering an increase of 9.5 percent over 2005-06. Sugarcane production improved by 22.6 percent over 2005-06 to 54.7 million tons. Cotton production at 13 million bales remained almost unchanged in comparison to 13.02 million bales in 2005-06. Rice production at 5.4 million tons was marginally lower than 5.5 million tons produced in 2005-06. The major factors responsible for increased agricultural production are, agricultural credit availability, support/intervention prices, government policy of encouraging use of the balanced fertiliser by granting subsidy on phosphatic and potashic fertilisers, increased irrigation water availability and favourable weather conditions particularly during Rabi season. Within crop sector, import substitution and crop diversification are two important development priorities of Minfal. Efforts are being made to maximise oilseed production, such as sunflower and canola etc to substitute imports of edible oil to save foreign exchange. Like-wise under crop diversification programme, government has planned to introduce high value crops to diversify production and to enhance net farm income. The milk and meat production touched the level of 33.2 and 2.6 million tons respectively in 2006-07. It implies 6.2 and 6.6 percent higher production. Fish production was 0.6 million tons ie 3.6 percent higher than in 2005-06. Growth in the targets for milk and meat production and livestock productivity are aligned with Medium Term Development Frame Work (MTDF), which aims to grow by to 6-8 percent annually. Government has provided Rs 100 million for launching 'Grow More Wheat Campaign 2006-2007'. Under the campaign wheat production technologies are being disseminated to the farming community through agriculture extension services in the provinces. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • NWFP and Balochistan to get bulldozers: around 219,375 hectares cultivable wasteland to be reclaimed

    Federal government will provide 200 bulldozers for Balochistan and 100 for NWFP, which would be hired out to the farmers at no profit no loss basis to facilitate them in reclaiming the cultivable wasteland. According to the sources in Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal), around 219,375 hectares of cultivable wasteland (NWFP 73,125 and Balochistan 146,250 hectares) would be reclaimed through the use of 300 bulldozers. This will enhance agricultural production in the NWFP and Balochistan provinces, sources said. According to an update Minfal study, about 8.12 million hectares of land falls in the category of cultivable wasteland out of which 1.22 and 4.0 million hectares are in NWFP and Balochistan respectively. Provincial Agriculture Engineering Departments need additional machinery and 900 bulldozers to reclaim the cultivable wasteland. Minfal sources mentioned that agricultural growth is key to curtailing poverty since poor heavily rely on agricultural goods and services for their livelihood. In line with the objectives of PRSP, Minfal has approved a number of projects for crop maximisation to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Pakistan in PSDP 2006-07. A number of projects assisted by ADB, FAO and UN/WFP for crop maximisation, increasing food security and promoting poverty alleviation are also under implementation. Sources said that government has given top priority to the development of water resources to maximise crop production. This has been done through progressively increasing surface water supplies and conserving water using the latest technologies and protecting land and infrastructure from water logging, salinity, floods and soil erosion. The main objectives are overcoming the scarcity of water through augmentation and conservation means ie by construction of medium and large dams and by efficient utilisation of irrigation water and restoring the productivity of agricultural land through control of water logging, salinity and floods, sources added. They said that an integrated programme approach for water management has been adopted. On-farm Water Management (OFWM) projects have been implemented on community participation basis in the provinces, AJ&K and Federal Agencies. Water conservation is being ensured under the President's programme for the improvement and lining of watercourses. This programme envisaged lining improvement of 87,000 watercourses at a cost of Rs 66 billion within 3-4 years. This initiative will significantly improve water supply at the farm-gate through reduction in the seepage losses. During the year 2006-07, 18,390 watercourses have been lined and renovated against the target of 18,000 watercourses. Minfal sources stated that the government has fulfilled most of the commitments related to different WTO-specific agreements. Pakistan has already started improving quality and standards of agricultural export commodity markets. Imposition of strict Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures and adoption of other significant regulatory steps through the Department of Plant Protection helped increase agricultural exports to the developed countries. Different development projects for the strengthening of laboratories for quality control have been initiated. For grading of agriculture and livestock commodities, grade standards of about 50 commodities, under Grading and Marketing Act, were developed. According to the Minfal study agriculture sector in Pakistan is facing many serious challenges and constraints for future growth. These challenges are embedded in (i) the rising demand for agricultural products with the growth of population and incomes; (ii) the expanding role of free and competitive markets in agriculture trade at the national and international levels. Increased farm productivity, achieved by sustainable use of natural resources and other inputs, and diversification of production from the low value to high value products in response to market demand have to be the key ingredients of future agriculture strategy to make agriculture both productive and profitable; (iii) wide yield gaps in major and minor crops, inefficient use of water at farms, poor quality and availability of agricultural inputs, frequent insect and pest attacks and high incidence of crop and livestock diseases require effective resolution; and (iv) strengthening of agriculture research system is needed to focus more on emerging areas such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, hybrid seeds etc. Improving agricultural knowledge system for effective crop forecasting, and undertaking market reforms in preparation of expanding trade regimes of WTO and Safta are other areas in which Minfal is currently focusing on. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • Biodiversity: Frozen futures

    The 'Doomsday vault' buried in the Arctic ice will provide a backup for the world's seeds. But more needs to be done to safeguard food diversity.

  • City govt vaccines put animal lives at risk

    The controversy over the city district government's animal vaccination drive continues to rage as animals are reportedly developing abscesses and falling ill, while some have died after being admin

  • Livestock owners urged to get animals vaccinated

    The Director Animal Husbandry, Hyderabad has advised the livestock owners to get their animals vaccinated as there are possibilities of spread of various diseases.

  • Tornado lashes 15 villages

    injured and 600 houses damaged as a tornado lashed 15 villages of three unions of Juri upazila in Moulvibazar Thursday afternoon.

  • Anthra

    ANTHRA is an organization of women veterinary scientists working primarily on issues of livestock development in the wider context of sustainable natural resource use. It is a non-profit organization registered

  • BAIF Development Research Foundation (BAIF)

    BAIF is committed to provide sustainable livelihood to the rural poor through management of natural resources and promotion of livestock development, watershed development and agri-horti-forestry as major

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