AGRICULTURE NEWS

GOVT URGED TO FOCUS ON AGRI-SECTOR

In order to revitalize the agriculture sector of Pakistan, farmers have urged the government to improve farming practices and agriculture landscape through a policy of adopting innovations, technology and other respective resources. Credit fuels progress in any sector; therefore farmers have demanded the government to adopt strategies similar to the ones adopted for the housing sector recently. Although the government has taken initiatives such as the Agriculture Emergency Programme 2018, to revolutionize the sector, the authorities should now introduce agriculture credit exclusively for the subsistence farmers who make around 80% of the farming households in Pakistan, suggests Agriculture Republic (AR), a community of farmers and agriculturists across the country. Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) Senior Vice President Mahmood Nawaz Shah mentioned that the agricultural economy of Pakistan is worth $60 billion and the formal credit availability is only $9 billion. In its budget proposals, the board suggested that the agriculture credit, therefore, should be increased to $25 billion. The share of agricultural credit of Sindh from current 16% in the national portfolio should be increased to 23% corresponding to its share in Pakistan’s agricultural economy, it proposed. According to a research conducted by National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBAF) and Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), agricultural advances still constitute a fraction of the total bank loans and big commercial banks generally only target established and well-settled farmers. As a result, small farmers currently rely on middlemen and bear exploitative interest rates ranging from 40-50% in this informal sector.