LAHORE: A four-member of the World Bank’s Strengthening Markets for Agriculture & Rural Transformation in Punjab (SMART) programme called on Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Almas Hyder and held a detailed meeting on the way forward for Punjab’s agriculture sector.
The World Bank Mission was headed by project head Hans Johannes while senior communications officer Flore Martinant de Preneuf and communications officer Mehreen Saeed were also present on the occasion.
The World Bank Mission informed the LCCI president that the objective of the SMART programme is to increase the productivity of crop and livestock farmers in Punjab.
Almas Hyder said that agriculture is a vital sector of Pakistan’s economy as it contributes 18.5pc to the GDP and provides employment to 38.5pc of the total labour force. “Yet the growth rate of the agriculture sector in 2018-19 was just 0.85pc,” he lamented.
The LCCI president maintained that if Pakistan has to achieve a growth rate of 6-7pc and wants to become a competitive economy in the region, agricultural growth needs to be enhanced.
he noted that there is no genetic modification programme in place to develop the livestock sector in Pakistan, adding that genetic improvement is required in the livestock breeds so as to enhance the productivity of the dairy sector.
He said that agriculture marketing laws should be amended so that large companies could procure agriculture commodities directly from the farmers rather than the middlemen.
The LCCI president said that the agriculture sector should be governed by the free market. “The role of government should be restricted to being a regulator which ensures food security.”
He said that export laws for agriculture commodities need to be relaxed and there should be a freedom to export the surplus Agriculture commodities after catering to the local demand. “Only then will the global buyers perceive Pakistan as an important agriculture market.”