KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry’s (FPCCI) Standing Committee on Horticulture and Agriculture Produce Chairman Ahmad Jawad has said that holistic approach is needed for development of agriculture sector. He said that an agriculture policy should focus on small farmers to combat poverty in rural areas, said in a session on Monday.
Jawad said that a conducive environment should be created through a favourable price and trade regime to promote farmers’ investments. Private sector investments in agriculture should be encouraged particularly in areas like agri research, human resource development, post-harvest management and marketing, he added. He emphasised on the development of marketing strategies and techniques of preservation, storage and transportation with a view to reducing post-harvest losses and ensuring a better return to growers.
He further said that storage facilities for different kinds of agricultural products must be established in the production areas or nearby places particularly in rural areas so that farmers could transport their produce to the storages houses in shortest possible time. “Establishment of cold chains, provision of pre-cooling facilities to farmers as a service and cold storage in the terminal markets and improving retail marketing arrangements in urban areas, may be given priority,” he added.
Jawad called for setting up of agro-processing units in the producing areas to reduce wastage, especially of horticultural produce, increase value addition and create off-farm employment in rural areas. He said that the government might also formulate an integrated plan of augmentation and management of water resources. Similarly, special attention might be given to development of new crop varieties, particularly of food crops, with higher nutritional value through adoption of bio- technology, he added.
“Hybrid seeds and disease-free planting materials of improved varieties, supported by a network of regional nurseries, tissue culture laboratories, seed farms may also be promoted to support systematic development of horticulture,” he added.
Jawad said that the federal government might supplement/complement the provincial governments through regionally differentiated work plans. He suggested the following for an effective agricultural policy:
Greater private sector participation through contract farming; price protection for farmers; national agricultural insurance scheme; dismantling of restrictions on movement of agricultural commodities throughout the country; rational utilisation of country’s water resources for optimum use of irrigation potential; high priority to development of animal husbandry, poultry, dairy and aquaculture; capital inflow and assured markets for crop production; minimise fluctuations in commodity prices; continuous monitoring of international prices; protection of plant varieties through legislation; adequate and timely supply of quality inputs to farmers; high priority to rural electrification; setting up of agro-processing units and creation of off-farm employment in rural areas.