Common misconceptions about agriculture — Part-1

  • Hail the farmer

Do you believe that markets for agricultural commodities are highly distorted?

And if you believe this, then I would say that it is an understatement because almost all high-income countries engage in a dizzying array of policies to support farm income, such as import tariffs; tariff-rate quotas (in which imports regarding agriculture are subject to a different, usually lower, tariff rate); subsidies are offered on inputs, outputs, and exports; and direct payments to farmers.

The Pakistani population depends heavily on the rural areas for food, and agriculture is the most important sector of Pakistan’s economy. Recent and past statistics indicate that farming is the key land use in Pakistan. However, there are some misconceptions about Pakistani agriculture industry that have a detrimental implication on agriculture.

Let me walk you through five very common misconceptions about the agriculture industry in Pakistan:-

1.    Agriculture is a risky venture

Many investors in Pakistan are afraid of agricultural investments because of the misconception that it is a risky venture. However, whether agriculture is risky or not mainly depends on investors themselves rather than the sector. Like all other investments, agricultural also has its risk as well as benefits. It may be very risky if one is ready to invest in low-quality land. However, the case is all the other way around if one is considering about prime investment grade farmland which promises steady and consistent returns while escalating the principle.

I would guess that many of the Pakistani investors have absolutely no idea how the agricultural commodities can benefit them. This is not their fault entirely because most stock brokers and finance managers are always calling for more investment in real estate, stock exchange, and bonds. Investors normally call the agricultural commodity risky, but these are the same people who invest heavily in shares where they watch their shares go to zero. No agricultural commodity has ever gone to zero and they never will.

Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. Apart from providing the basic necessities of life agriculture has the potential to create a tremendous economic impact. It cannot be emphasised enough that food and farming are critical to the balance of trade and employment in almost every country especially Pakistan. All across the country, it is agriculture that supports the economy.

In past years, the agricultural industry in Pakistan has not received the best of media coverage. There are a few selected trustworthy agricultural investment companies in Pakistan and all it takes is the determination on investors’ part to reach out

In past years, the agricultural industry in Pakistan has not received the best of media coverage. There are a few selected trustworthy agricultural investment companies in Pakistan and all it takes is the determination on investors’ part to reach out these companies and to learn about investing in the sector. Investing in agriculture can be very profitable if the investor is well informed.

2.    Agriculture is not sustainable

The sane pursuit of sustainability, whether globally or locally, is only possible if we as a nation could agree upon what sustainability is, or more exactly if a Pakistani knows what it wants to sustain.

Sustainable agriculture is an issue that many environmentalists started pondering in past years. The reason behind the discussion about agricultural sustainability is very important because food is something that we need for physical survival and agriculture directly deals with its production.

However, there is a misconception that sustainable agriculture deals only with feeding the expanding population today and producing enough food to meet nutritional demand. But it is a much broader concept which is deals with meeting the food demand for the future. It is a fact that some geographic regions that used to have fertile soil have become deserts due to inefficient agricultural practices that are common in the world today. Therefore, sustainable agriculture would develop an efficient and effective food production system that would prevent land from losing fertility while producing adequate yields in future. So far we have two areas that sustainable agriculture is concerned with: meeting the demand for food today and making sure that our future generations will be able to produce enough food.

It is important to highlight that making the transition to sustainable agriculture is a process. Reaching this goal is not the responsibility of farmers only but all: labourers, policy makers, researchers and consumers. Agricultural sustainability is under great pressure in Pakistan. Fewer farms are able to struggle to hold a viable financial position against the pressures of the ‘cost-price squeeze’ inflicted by agri-businesses, governments, and consumers, all wanting cheap food. Sustainable agriculture in Pakistan necessitates both a change in the economic and institutional framework and farmers’ motivation and values. Appropriate intervention by the government in areas such as easy market access to the farmers, infrastructure development, research and extension in agriculture, could make a critical difference in the process of development of sustainable agriculture.

It is vital to make agriculture more sustainable if we want to preserve Pakistan and eliminate the possibility of famine for our future generations. We should be thankful to our unschooled and untaught farmers who have transformed this country from a deficit to a surplus. If we have a look at the world, we can easily notice that very few developing countries have been able to achieve a sustained growth rate of four percent for the agriculture sector and Pakistan is one of them. There is no doubt that we need to further improve and boost our productivity in agriculture but we should be proud of the contribution the farming community has made to the country’s economy.

To be continued….

Waqas A Khan

Waqas A Khan is a PhD scholar and a Fellow of International Centre for Journalists in Washington, DC, USA. He can be reached on Twitter at: @wakhanlive, and on his website: www.khanwaqas.com



One Comment;

  1. Asma Muazzam said:

    Good price of writing….agriculture is a backbone of our economic system and its very important for us to elimite our all doubts about our agricultural sector to become more economically strong and prosperous in future…

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