STRATEGY AND INITIATIVES OF PUNJAB GOVERNMENT
IN AGRICULTURE SECTOR
GOVERNMENT OF THE PUNJAB, AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT
Agriculture is a major contributor to the provincial economy, accounting for over 21 percent of its GDP, providing employment for 47 percent of its work force, and a main source of livelihood and sustenance for the poor. National food security hinges upon agriculture. About 80% of the country’s foreign exchange originates from agriculture, and Punjab contributes over 60% in this. It is a main source of raw material for several industries, especially textile, edible oil, rice husking, etc.
Investment in agriculture in Punjab ensures high return, generates employment in rural areas thus curtails rural-urban migration, and can be the most effective way to reduce rural poverty. The Punjab government has a mission to develop a science-based, vibrant and internationally linked agriculture sector that can not only meet the food security challenges but also compete in domestic as well as in international markets. We envision public-private partnership in achieving this mission.
· Enhancing Productivity for the Improved Livelihood in Rural Areas
o Increase the flow of scientific innovations;
o Bridge the yield gap between progressive and resource poor farmers;
o Promote diversification to high-value crops and vertical integration to increase small farmers’ income; and
o Provide resources, skills and information to enable small farmers to be linked with consumers, especially of high-value markets.
· Improving Government’s Ability to Meet Food Security Challenges
o Reduce expenditure on holding big wheat reserves in the public sector;
o Promote grain storage in the private sector;
o Develop future agricultural commodity markets and promote pledge loaning;
o Make well-informed decision based on accurate information such as production, stock, import and export prices, etc. and scientific prediction.
· Reduce Regional Disparity
o Special emphasis on building institutions, providing resources, and training small farmers in the neglected region of Southern Punjab;
o Encourage production of high-value crops to high potential marginal lands in Thal and Cholistan;
· Sustaining Agricultural Resources
o Agricultural production will be transformed from input-oriented to knowledge-based system. For this purpose, efficient energy, water, pesticide, fertilizer, and labor utilization and management systems will be developed and promoted;
o Unnecessary conversion of agricultural lands into urban settlement will be discouraged.
· Revamping of Punjab Agricultural Research Board (PARB)
o Identify stakeholders’ issue through their involvement;
o Fund output-oriented research on competitive basis;
o Ensure commercialization of research outputs through stakeholders’ involvement;
o Enhance national and international collaboration;
o Import of new technologies for local adaptation.
· Establishments of Seed Units
o Provision of basic and pre-basic seed to the private sector
o Sell established varieties/hybrids to the private sector on competitive basis;
· Promote IPR based Technology Environment
o Provide government guarantee to Monsanto for the technology fee for the use of its latest cotton technologies;
o Willingness of the Government to sign similar deals with other tested technology providers.
· Promoting food quality, safety and traceability through Star Farm concept
o Training of six master trainer;
o Capacity building of extension agents, traders, processors, and farmers;
o Establishing the trading platforms through Star Farm Franchising;
o Developing forward and backward linkages of the trading platforms;
· Establishment of Punjab Agricultural Marketing Company
o Identifying key marketing investment areas;
o Developing business models for identified areas; and
o Invite and encourage private investment in identified areas
· Crop Maximization
o Fruits and Vegetable Development Project
o Provision of farm mechanization service on cost sharing basis
· Provision of Solar Pumps
Governance Improvement Measures
· Enactment of Seed Act
o Provide private sector a legal space in the seed business
o Provide enabling environment for the private sector to operate;
o Replace the inefficient seed certification mechanism to truth-in-labeling testing mechanism, which is more private-sector friendly.
· Enactment of Pesticide Act
o To improve pesticide quality, registration and monitoring of pesticide trade, manufacturing, formulation, sale, and use is being taken up by the Punjab Government;
o Standardization of pesticide machinery.
· Intellectual Property Right (IPR) Act
o Ensure the ownership right to the inventor;
o Every inventor can sell the innovation with appropriate technology fee.
· Market Act
o Allow private sector to establish various kinds of agriculture markets;
o Limit the role of the Market Committee in the premises of the public sector markets;
o Democratize the Market Committees that manage the public sector markets;
o Develop efficient market models and encourage private-public partnership in establishing these markets.
Impact of Floods
About 1.85 million acres of standing crops were partially or fully damaged. Cotton, rice, sugarcane, mungbean, fodder, vegetables, mango, and citrus were the most affected crops. Major affected areas were Muzaffargarh, Rajunpur, Layyah, D.G. Khan, and Mianwali.
Crops of approximately Rs. 94.5 billions were washed away in the flood in 25 districts in Punjab.
About fifty four agricultural offices were completely destroyed, and 28 were partially damaged. About half of these sites are located in Muzaffargarh.
· A transparent mechanism was developed to transfer Rs. 20,000 to flood affect ted families through Watten Card;
· An international organization, FAO, is supplying free of cost seed and fertilizer to the farmers having less than 3 acres;
· Government of Punjab is also distributing seed and fertilizer to all farmers using especially designed vouchers.
· Agriculture department is also negotiating a project with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to get its flood tolerant gene (SUBM-1) and drought tolerant gene as part of the longer term strategy to prepare ourselves for any such catastrophe;
The Way Forward
Although recent floods have consumed major resources available during current financial year, it has failed to detract government from its development trajectory. The major focus of Government of Punjab is on scientific innovation as a major source of growth in the agriculture sector. we are therefore, placing very high emphasis on improving our research laboratories and reforming the research management system through strengthening the Punjab Agriculture Research Board as an apex body.
Flow of scientific innovations to the ultimate users cannot be enhanced unless proper IPR regime is enforced. Thus enforcing the IPR regime for innovators will be the major focus of Agriculture Department in the future. This will encourage the private and public sector to invest on innovations, convert agriculture from inexact to exact farming thus improve productivity, reduce yield gap, and improve comparative advantage of agriculture sector.
Our emphasis is changing from increasing farm production to developing value chain for agricultural commodities. In other words, we are transforming agriculture from a supply-oriented production to demand-driven supply. In this process, small farmers will need government’s help to participate in value chain activities and get linked with high-end markets. Farmers are accordingly be trained for different value chain activities, and for bringing markets to the doorstep of farmers through Star Farm concept. This will reduce post-harvest losses, enhance food quality, and improve traceability and tradability of agriculture produce thus increase farmers’ income many folds. This would also entail complete reformation of our Agriculture Marketing practices.
We fully understand that government alone cannot transform the agriculture sector. We need private sector participation in generating and transmitting agricultural innovations to stakeholders, building market and storage infrastructure, and training of farmers to new management models and technologies. Creating enabling environment for the private sector will remain our main focal point in agriculture development strategy. Public Private Partnership will accordingly shape our future investment strategies.