We are an agricultural
newspaper came up with a huge advertisement on Agri Expo
2012 that was held last week. The ad featured the following
problems facing agriculture.
1. Farmers, farm managers and breeders.
2. Industry and trade media.
3. Import, export and trade bodies.
4. Aquaculture entrepreneurs and fish farmers.
5. Industry executives and corporate heads.
6. Agents and distributors for agricultural raw materials.
7. Storage, transport and logistics experts.
8. Veterinary and animal health specialists.
9. Agricultural educators and students.
10. Development agencies.
11. Government officials.
12. Wholesalers and retailers.
Now these problems are there
when there is a farming sector. From the very beginning we
have seen that every article of agriculture begins thus,
‘Pakistan is an agricultural country….’ And every editorial
begins with this famous beginning and then we begin to push
everything agricultural under the carpet. Agriculture has
become less and less important for policy planners as well
as for those who actually plough the field. And that is why
agriculture has receded from all tiers of policy planning
And that is why our legislatures, most of whom belong to the
farming sector, have abdicated their duty to the farmland
and that is why our agriculture ministry is often given to
people who do not understand the ABC of agriculture.
I remember once an officer of the Navy was given the charge
of agriculture. I had the opportunity to discuss the issue
with the ambassador of an East European country. When I
asked him what he thought of the new appointment, he replied
“The result is obvious. Your Navy will sink and your
agriculture will be drowned.” When I asked him what is the
difference between sinking and drowning. He replied that
sinking might not be an accident where as drowning was an
We have allowed agriculture to drown but it is a hardy plant
and keeps coming to the surface again and again. Our latest
attempt at drowning agriculture has been our attempt at
bringing as much of agricultural lands under new housing
colonies. With the result that Pakistan is becoming less and
less the country of agriculture and more and more of people
who depend not on agriculture for a living.
President Eisenhower once said that agriculture looks very
easy when your plough is a pencil and you are a thousand
miles away from the cornfield.
In our case the distance between the plough and the wheat
field will be not a thousand miles away but tens of
thousands of miles from us. We will only have houses where
once were wheat field.
When I was young Lahore had very definite boundary but today
Kasur is a Lahori mohallah and so are Sheikhupura and