Agriculture sector growth stays robust

LAHORE:

The agriculture sector of Pakistan has recorded a robust growth of 4.40% in fiscal year 2021-22, thereby surpassing the target of 3.5% and beating the growth of 3.4% in the previous year, said the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2021-22.

Except for the staple crop, ie wheat, all other crops have shown an impressive growth, however shortage of some key crops depicts that there still exist hurdles in the way of farmers in getting access to the markets. Apart from this, there is an overall lack of management by the provincial and federal governments to reduce the role of middleman and avert price hikes.

The survey said that the growth was mainly driven by high yields, attractive output prices, supportive government policies, better availability of certified seeds, pesticides and agricultural credit.

The crops sector outperformed and posted a growth of 6.58% during FY22 against 5.96% in the previous year.

At the sub-sector level, important crops, other crops and cotton ginning depicted a significant growth of 7.24%, 5.44% and 9.1% respectively, against last year’s growth of 5.83%, 8.27% and -13.08%. The growth in production of important crops namely cotton, rice, sugarcane and maize is estimated at 17.9%, 10.7%, 9.4% and 19% respectively.

The cotton crop has increased from 7.1 million bales last year to 8.3 million bales during 2021-22 while rice production increased from 8.4 million tonnes to 9.3 million tonnes.

Sugarcane production increased from 81 million tonnes to 88.7 million tonnes whereas maize production rose from 8.9 million tonnes to 10.6 million tonnes.

However, wheat production decreased from 27.5 million tonnes to 26.4 million tonnes.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir, while presenting the survey, said that the government was looking to import 3 million tonnes of wheat primarily from Russia to avert any crisis in future.

On the other hand, other crops, having a share of 13.86% in agricultural value addition and 3.14% in the gross domestic product (GDP), grew 5.44% on the back of increase in production of pulses (29.82%), oilsseeds (24.75) %), vegetables (11.52%), fruits (1.53%) and fodder (0.36%).

Livestock, having a share of 61.89% in agriculture and 14.04% in GDP, recorded a growth of 3.26% in 2021-22 compared to 2.38% during the same period of last year, the survey added.

The fishing sector, having a share of 1.39% in agricultural value addition and 0.32% in GDP, grew 0.35% compared to growth of 0.73% in the same period of last year.

The forestry sector, having a share of 2.14% in agricultural value addition and 0.49% in GDP, posted a positive growth of 6.13% against negative growth of 0.45% last year.

The survey said that water availability during Kharif 2021 was recorded at 65.1 million acre feet (MAF) compared to 65.1 MAF of Kharif 2020. Rabi season 2021-22 received 27.4 MAF, a decrease of 12% over Rabi 2020-21.

The domestic production of fertilizers during FY22 (July-March) increased 1.9% over the same period of last year. The increase in domestic production of fertilizer is mainly due to the running of two LNG-based plants, Fatima Fertilizer and Agritech Limited, from September 2021 to March 2022.

Although the import of fertilizer decreased by 6.2%, the total availability of fertilizer slightly increased by 0.5%. There was a decrease in the total offtake of fertilizer nutrients by 3.6%.

During July-March FY22, total tractor production reached 41,871 compared to 36,900 last year, 13.5% higher than the same period of last year.

During FY22 (July-March), banks disbursed Rs958.3 billion in agricultural credit, which was 56.4% of the annual target and 0.5% higher than the disbursement of Rs953.7 billion during the same period of last year. Further, the outstanding portfolio of agricultural loans has increased by Rs30.9 billion ie, from Rs601.8 billion to Rs632.7 billion at end of March 2022 as compared to the same period last year.

In terms of outreach, the number of outstanding borrowers reached 3.2 million in March 2022. During FY2022 (July-March), total fish production was recorded at 696.0 thousand MT (marine: 468 thousand MT and inland: 228 thousand MT) witnessing an increase of 0.8% over the same period of last year’s fish production of 690.6 thousand MT (marine: 465.2 thousand MT and inland: 225.4 thousand MT).

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th2022.

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