Agriculture performance ‘remarkable’


ISLAMABAD: There has been no significant impact of Covid-19 on the agriculture sector which, on the aggregate, recorded a remarkable growth of 2.67 per cent in 2019-20 compared to 0.58pc growth achieved last year, the Pakistan Economic Survey 2019-20 said.

Released on Thursday, the document adds that positive growth was noted in all important crops except cotton and sugarcane.

However, the locust outbreak which started to emerge in later part of 2019, turned serious and agriculture losses were reported to main crop production areas in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh provinces. Initial assessment shows damage to over 115,000 hectares of crops including wheat, oil seed crops, cotton, gram, fruits and vegetables, besides grazing field losses, according to the survey. Some crop losses were also reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The quantum of detailed damage assessment may take some time and efforts are underway to agree on an assessment in collaboration with stakeholders, the survey adds.

Positive growth of 2.90pc in important crops was observed due to an increase in the production of wheat, rice and maize at 2.45pc, 2.89pc, and 6.01per cent, respectively. Cotton and sugarcane posted negative growth of 6.92pc and 0.44pc, respectively. Other crops have shown growth of 4.57pc mainly because of an increase in the production of pulses, oilseeds and vegetables.

Cotton ginning has declined by 4.61pc due to a decrease in the production of cotton crop while the livestock sector posted growth of 2.58pc. Growth in forestry and fishing remained 2.29 and 0.60pc, respectively.

The survey pointed out that the performance of agriculture during fiscal year 2019-20 improved over the last year and it also performed better than other sectors. However, challenges due to climate change, pest attacks, shortage of water etc kept agriculture production far less than the potential. One key issue related to agriculture was that farmers have limited direct access to the market due to which the role of middlemen remains crucial.

In terms of potential, the survey notes that agriculture sector has the capacity to not only produce for the domestic population but to have surplus production for exports which can ensure food security as well as contribute towards foreign exchange earnings.

Due to the pandemic, which posed extraordinary challenges for almost all sectors of the national economy, the need for maintaining food security and livelihoods has also gained more importance. Despite uncertainties over the impact of Covid-19, the cereal markets were expected to remain balanced and comfortable.

As logistical issues may pose challenges to the food supply, it is important to take measures for boosting agriculture production which will contribute in mitigating the socio-economic impact of Covid-19, the survey pointed out.

Rice production increased by 2.9pc to 7.410 million tonnes, maize production by 6.0pc to 7.236m tonnes, while cotton production declined by 6.9pc to 9.178m bales and sugarcane production declined by 0.4pc to 66.880m tonnes.

Wheat production showed growth of 2.5pc and reached around 25m tonnes, while other crops having a share of 11.53pc in agriculture value addition and 2.23pc in GDP, showed growth of 4.57pc mainly due to increase in production of pulses, oilseeds and vegetables.

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