Agriculture forms the core of Pakistan's economy. It employs the maximum workforce, in terms of the single largest job accommodation sector. A huge chunk of populace is also indirectly involved in this sector in a variety of ways. Its share to GDP, which is quite marginal at the moment compared to that of other sectors, does not fully represent its true potential. At a time when the food security has becomes a major theme in the world, the continued policy neglect this sector has been receiving at the hands of policy makers needs to be reversed in favour of an affirmative action from the state. Pakistan, being an agrarian economy, has a golden opportunity not only to take care of its food needs but also produce enough for export to other countries. Pakistan can ask for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the field of agriculture for its modernization and rehabilitation. This is possible if creative and innovative thinking goes into the agricultural policy formulation.
There is a need to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of our economy. Such an appraisal would help us set our national priorities right. While no one can dispute the contention of diversifying the base of economy in terms of the investment into other sectors, this should not be used as a euphemism for step-motherly treatment meted out to agricultural industry in Pakistan. If fixing the fundamentals of economy is the objective for sustainable development and predictable growth patterns, this would not be achieved as long as much needed reforms are not introduced in the agricultural field. These reforms, besides enhancing the productivity of agriculture, would create enough space within this sector as to absorb ever increasing jobless youth.
The Economics of Agriculture Industry (vol. II) written by Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri, presently a PhD candidate at an Australian University, is a timely reminder of the need to take agriculture sector seriously without any further delay. The writer has analysed the strength and weaknesses of various agriculture-related sectors in an objective manner. These critiques are worth reading in their own right for they present a holistic view of what ails every individual sector and what measures can address its ailments. In addition to that, they also indicate the depth, diversity and true potential of agriculture in Pakistan. Brief comparisons and contrasts with agricultural sectors of other countries here and there not only add to the quality of narrative but also to the strength of argument.
Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri has talked of two basic things during the course of the second volume. One, he emphasizes the formulation of new Agricultural Vision encompassing both short- and long term goals and objectives. He believes that this Vision can deliver if it is formulated in consultation with all stakeholders including the small farmers, agricultural experts, and researchers etc. Another worth mentioning element of this Vision is his recommendation for the establishment of Agricultural Research Centres and Policy Think Tanks and more agricultural universities across the country aimed at producing indigenous research to give 'out of box' character to the policy making. The second important thing is his emphasis on the importance of agriculture as a constituent element of national security paradigm. 'Agriculture for development' is the recurring theme in the volume
I am of the considered opinion that this volume, though quite beneficial in its own right, can also serve as a basis of more research on the subject. I congratulate Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri for writing this excellent work and wish him luck in his future research pursuits.
(Dr Ehsan Ullah)
Professor of Agronomy
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
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