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Suffering of generations of Farmers- Will it end?

When will we own our farmers and not only their products?

Improving Quality in Agriculture Sector in Pakistan

Fatima Khalid

Introduction:

The backbone of human body is the most critical part of the body, acting as a communicator and a major support between body parts and brain. Appling this concept to a country, if a country’s backbone breaks, is it possible for a country to stand upright or lift its burden, the answer is pretty simple, a big no.

Agriculture is considered the backbone of Pakistan since beginning. With the rise of agriculture in initial years, today we observe a downfall on agriculture and the rural progression. The annual agricultural growth rate averaged just 2.8 percent in recent years signifying drop from growth rates than the previous two decades.With the passing years, a rapid increase in the population can be observed, which yields to a 5% decrease in the agricultural labor force and this decline is expected to be expand further. It accounting for over 21 percent of GDP, 45 percent of total labor force engaged with this sector. Around 63 percent of country population live in rural areas is indirectly or directly linked with this sector for their livelihood. Agriculture sector has strong linkage with the rest of the economy that is unnoticed in statistics. While on the Other hand, it is the primary supplier of raw materials to downstream industry, that contributing significantly to Pakistan’s export; it is the largest market for industrial manufactured goods such as pesticides, fertilizers, tractors and agriculture equipment’s. Predictor variable comprises five sub-sectors include Major, Minor crops, livestock’s, fisheries and forestry. Major crops consist of cotton, rice, wheat and sugarcane etc. and contribute 6.5% solely to the GDP. Cotton is the main non-food crop that is used as a raw material for the textile industry. Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton. Rice and Wheat are the major food crop out of which rice is also one of the main export items of the country. Sugarcane is another important crop grown for sugar and sugar related products. Minor crops consist of oil seeds, vegetables, pulses, chilies and other small crops. Oil seed crops include cottonseeds, rapeseed/mustard, sunflower and canola etc. With such a large contribution to the sustainability of Pakistan, it would be expected that a large agricultural infrastructure would exist to satisfy the need for a quality agriculture division but unfortunately the reality is quite opposite.2

Quality product should be the aim of any business. Quality products whether it be the crops, the transparent procedure or the yield itself. In this research paper I would be discussing how we can improve quality of agriculture with regard to two perspectives,

  1. Issues and solution in Production
  2. Issues and solution in Procedures

Discussion:

I would start my discussion with what Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa (South African politician) said, “We need to transform our rural areas, restore the land to its rightful owners, and significantly grow our agricultural output.” Throughout the world, the first step to solve any issue is to identify the problem otherwise failure will greet you at your doorsteps, and only then quality can be implemented and wonders can be seen. So, in the first paragraph we will talk about issues leading to solution in second paragraph. In the past few decades, agriculture has seen a dark period where farmers have got nothing in their fate except exploitation. There are various factors behind the breakage of backbone of Pakistan. Some of them take us back to history and others roots are planted in today’s technology advances.

The issues I have analyzed that are in the way of quality are inequitable unjust distribution of Resources and Power, they are denied of their basic rights, landlords get their share and farmers are left with nothing other than sweat and some pennies because no defined procedures are there and some of them which are there are manipulated by landowners and middlemen. Though growth in population would have led to an advantage of more yield and more productivity but illiteracy has held their feet with ropes leading to burden only. As the Prime minister of Pakistan says, corruption is the root cause of everything and that is what happened here as well. Government has played a major role in poor governance, rampant corruption, rapid deterioration in ethical norms, poor policy, Non-existent analyses, poorer data, rapidly diminishing domestic capacity to formulate or Implement Reform, false bravado, increasing reliance on donors for analyses and support, circumstances out of our control, domestic terrorism and misuse of power. This does not end here when natural calamities hit farmers as well, water crisis is looming around the corner, earthquakes, floods, and an attitude of Waiting for Allah to do everything– Manna from heaven or from Kerry Lugar or from the IMF? No independent foresight and action these constraints have driven the Economy to the Precipice – And Agriculture functions as a neglected sector in this depressing scenario.

Not only in Pakistan, but all around the world unequal distribution of resources and power is the main issue. Absence of land reforms. Land reforms refer to the government backed changing in the law and regulations for the transfer of ownership of agricultural land evenly in the whole state (Kinsey, 1999). Due to the absence of the land reforms in Pakistan the subsidies and other farmer based incentives given by the government are enjoyed by the landlords and the farmer with small land holding suffers in the end (Haq, 2012). About 2 percent of households has a complete hold on the 45 percent of the land area. Progressive and politically influenced farmers have also taken advantage of government subsidies in agriculture and water sectors, and benefited from technological improvements which have boosted yields on their large farms while the small farmer is unable to enjoy these benefits (World Bank, 2003). Absence of the land reforms is also bringing about negative changes in the society and is resulting in an over increasing rate of poverty and consequently there is an increased rate of the negative behavior in society (IRINEWS, 2009). Quality cannot be maintained unless each of the parties equally participate whether it is government, middleman, farmers or the buyers and sellers. Defective land tenure system is also responsible for low yield per acre in agricultural sector. Landlords and feudal-lords live in posh urban areas while tenants and peasants have no or less incentive for their hard work. So, the productivity in agricultural sector remains low.

Another important perspective is our farmers are living in an unknown world far from the world of technology. They are still stuck on conventional farming practices. He traditional practices are more common in the developing countries like Pakistan and these practices are mainly due to the smaller farm size as the small level peasant is unable to bear the farm expenses and result in low yield per unit area (Khawaja, 2013). They are resistant in investing in new technologies mainly because of illiteracy, lack of finances and no interest of government to take practical steps to educate and encourage them. A hidden factor that is swept underground and I feel is most important factor is the “Middleman”. This does not only prove to be a hurdle to improve the status of farmers but also hinders the farmer’s potential to produce quality product and creates doubt on the procedure as well (Khan, 2010). For this reason, the farmer fails to get the real price of his hard work and inputs. Small peasants are unable to access the market and get the rate that is the original price of the commodity (Malik et al, 1989) that is neither the farmers are satisfied nor the consumer.

Quality means customer satisfaction and procedural control. For this the utilization of resources is the crux. In Pakistan, the total area of Pakistan is about 79.6 million hectares, out of which only 23.7 million hectares (28%) area is used for agricultural purposes. About 8 million hectares’ area is idle and un-utilized. There is vast sub-division and fragmentation of land holdings, as a result modern technology cannot be applied in agriculture sector. The most important problem of agriculture is its low yield per hectare for almost every major crop. 45.0% of labor force is engaged in this sector in Pakistan while it is less than 5% in developed countries. But, other countries of world are getting higher yield per hectare due to use of modern technology and trained labor. The supply of modern inputs like high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, mechanized machinery etc. not only costly but also inadequate and irregular in Pakistan. Numbers of fertilizer producing units are just 10 in Pakistan. In quality management, continuous improvement and research is the essence of quality management.Unfortunately, agriculture in Pakistan lacks both. The average crop yield in Pakistan is very low as compared to the production levels of the advanced countries of the world. In order to raise the potential of agricultural production, there should be continuous improvement in the research. Total agricultural universities and colleges are only 16 in Pakistan. 

Quality is also related to training and facilitation, to have the right thing at the right time. Rural infrastructure like, roads, storage facilities, transport, electricity, education, sanitation and health facilities etc. is inadequate to meet the requirement of growth of agriculture. Total length of farm-to-market road is not only shorter but their condition is also poor. Many villages have no metal-led road at all. Electricity is available to only 3/4 rural populations. Apart from natural calamities like water Logging and Salinity, improper Crop Rotation to re-establish the fertility of the land.

Conclusion:

Hence, I believe that no quality management system can survive without equal participation from the government, farmers, middle man because quality is all about responsibility and implementation on procedures rather than control on the product as a better procedure can lead to a better quality product.

References:

  1. Iqbal, J., Suhail, T., & Ehsan, S. (2019, January 8). Agriculture contribution and problems in Pakistan. Retrieved from https://www.technologytimes.pk/agriculture-contribution-problems/.
  2. Khan, Fawad&Sagheer, Muhammad & Hasan, Mansoor-Ul-Hasan &Tahira, Hafiza& Hassan, Feehan&Manzoor, Syed & Wahid, Muhammad Atif. (2013). AGRICULTURAL DYNAMICS IN PAKISTAN: CURRENT ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS. Russian Journal of Agricultural and Socio-Economic Sciences. 8. 10.18551/rjoas.2013-08.03.
  3. Pakissan, T. (n.d.). Agriculture, Pakistan Agriculture, News, Opinions. Retrieved from https://www.pakissan.com/.
  4. Pakistan – Agriculture. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Asia-and-the-Pacific/Pakistan-AGRICULTURE.html.
  5. Project, B. (2017, March 20). How to Improve Pakistan’s Agricultural Sector. Retrieved from https://borgenproject.org/pakistan-agricultural-sector/.
  6. Smith, & Franklin. (n.d.). Sarhad Journal of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://researcherslinks.com/current-issues/Agricultural-Productivity-Current-Scenario-Constraints-and-Future-Prospects-in-Pakistan/14/8/256/html.
  7. The Nation. (2016, December 9). Agricultural problems in Pakistan. Retrieved from https://nation.com.pk/10-Dec-2016/agricultural-problems-in-pakistan.

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