PM directs for Integrated Rural Development Plan to build affordable credit line for subsistence farmers


ISLAMABAD, Oct 17 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz  Sharif on Monday directed Ministry of National Food Security  and Research to come up with Integrated Rural Development Plan  for building affordable credit line for subsistence farmers  through formal financial institutions.

Appreciating the ministry’s broad policy framework and
diversification plan, proposing reduction in reliance on staple
food grains and increased focus on high value products through  holistically addressing technological, climate change and water  resource issues, he pointed out some areas of concerns requiring  ministry’s attention in order to expand production base of  agriculture base in the country.

The prime minister asked the ministry to prepare a
comprehensive presentation on the subject, incorporating
foregoing observations, within a week.

He viewed that in our labour-intensive agriculture sector,
adoption of innovative technology or new practices involved
direct costs as well as risk of failure.

He said for subsistence farmers, the utilization of such
interventions may not be feasible without robust institutional
support. Commercial banks consider agriculture sector risky
and unprofitable, in turn giving Arhtees (Commission Agents)
oligopolistic control of rural credit market, interlinking
credit and output transactions, thereby minimizing net
agricultural income, he added.

The prime minister stressed the need for material
improvement in agriculture research, notwithstanding,
the ministry should have suggested concrete and verifiable
accountability mechanism for proposed restructuring of
research institutes, hence justifying demand for special
pay scales.

He observed that the private sector seed corporations
and marketing companies needed to be encouraged in order
to reap productivity gains through development and
availability of high-yield, pest-resistant seeds suited
to local climate conditions and resource.

He also called for simplifying the marketing of new
seed varieties for private sector firms.

He observed that the Provincial Agriculture Extension
services wings had failed to deliver requisite services
to farmers, so the ministry should present alternative
modes of provision of services, possible through
Public-Private Partnerships with agriculture input

The ministry’s policy paper suggested 3-5 years timeline
for impact assessment of climate change on crops, development  of climate smart crops and adoption of resilient crop productions technologies to mitigate impact of climate change.

However, the prime minister observed that the document was silent about how progress for each component would be tracked  especially while all three components were mutually exclusive  and could not be implemented simultaneously.

The Water Resource Conservation focuses only on Ground
Water and implementation plan consisted of platitudes instead  of delineating measurable indicators against each planned  outcomes.

The prime minister also called for steps to enhance crop
productivity for achieving maximum biological potential,
address marketing issue, compliance with WTO dictates and
identification and development of floriculture potential.

He said the viability of establishing farmers Commission
and Agriculture Technology Park for use of information
technology in this sector should be explored.

The prime minister said the action plan should highlight
the potential of various areas for high value crops like
olives and grapes for Potohar, pulses for Kalat and Khuzdar,
dates for Makran coast, apples for Quetta and Zhob Divisions,  and wheat for Dera Ismail Khan Division.