Improving farmer-govt nexus
By Tahir Ali Khan
May 9, 2011: THE next year`s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa budget will
mount efforts to facilitate farmers hit by floods and
militancy to revive and develop the agricultural economy.
An official in the provincial government said the
development activities would focus on addressing issues like
the low per acre yield, small landholdings, outdated
farming, non-availability of inputs and poor coordination
between stakeholders etc.
Reviving the farming sector that has been severely hit by
years of militancy and last year`s floods require short,
medium and long-term strategies and funding, he added.
“We are suggesting a project worth Rs485m to compensate the
farmers affected by the floods. While Rs1-billion Swat
Development Package is also on the cards to compensate
militancy-inflicted losses,” the official said.
Coping with falling acreage under cultivation,
revitalisation of the Agriculture Engineering Directorate is
being undertaken to prepare more land for tilling. A scheme
for buying 40 bulldozers at a cost of Rs600 million has also
“If the scheme is made part of the annual development
programme and implemented, it will help level over 10,000
hectares. We are also intending to introduce laser
technology for land-levelling in some areas,” he added.
“We want to implement a public-private partnership to
develop high-yielding maize seeds at the Cereal Crops
Research Institute (CCRI) in Nowshera.
Projects have also been proposed to rehabilitate the CCRI
and Agriculture Research Institute, Tarnab, damaged by last
year`s floods. We also plan to increase production of
pre-basic and basic seeds in the province.”
“The government plans to develop integrated pest/crop
management and soil conservation programmes, but rarely any
ADP is fully implemented. The sooner these maladies are
addressed the better,” he added.
For example, farm services were developed in 2007-08 under
the 2005 agriculture policy, but these are now neglected and
dormant in most districts. And rather than following a
proactive approach to interact with the growers and
livestock owners, the agriculture and its attached
departments are waiting for them to come to get their
One wonders why this can`t be the other way round i.e. the
department contacts farmers at their doorsteps.
While the public sector provides quite a few important
services like soil and seeds testing laboratories, though on
a limited scale, most farmers don`t even know about them,
what to talk of utilising them for their advantage.
About 80 per cent farmers have no access to quality seeds
and modern agriculture technology. There are around 13
research stations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which have developed
several high-yielding seed varieties for various crops but
their timely and easy availability has always been a
problem. Farmers usually use substandard seeds that result
in low yield.
“There is still a vast room for better coordination among
farmers, seed companies and research centres,” the official
“There is a need to set up coordination forums to ensure
better and speedy communication, feedback and cooperation
between growers, private sector and the public sector. These
centres should provide farm inputs and financial, technical
and educational support to growers in their respective
“The government can learn from local and foreign NGOs,
especially the Sarhad Rural Support Programme, which have
ensured liaison and participation of locals by developing
participatory organisations at mohallah, village and union
council and other levels.
These centres will comprise all stakeholders in agriculture
and have store for farm inputs, repair workshop, veterinary
hospital, soil testing labs, a branch of agriculture
development bank, a multimedia workshop and an insurance
company office for crop insurance.
Once these coordinating bodies are developed and subsequent
regular interaction is maintained, most of the problems
faced by farmers and the agriculture sector would be solved.
The directorate general of extension in the agriculture
department needs to proactively disseminate agriculture
technology and services to farmers.
The issue of public-private partnership has been focused in
the provincial agriculture and horticulture policies but has
remained unaddressed in practical terms.
“As chemical fertiliser is getting costlier, the government
plans to create awareness about organic fertiliser. “We have
launched a project for organic farming on trial basis at the
Agriculture Research Institute at Tarnab and another project
worth Rs12m has been proposed for the ADP this year,” the
“Lack of coordination between the government and NGOs has
also harmed the farmers. The government and NGOs are
supporting farmers hit by floods and militancy but for
faulty allotment/distribution, the aid is going to
undeserving people keeping the needy deprived. The
agriculture and revenue department and the MFSC should be
taken on board in the apportionment and supply process.
Fake, adulterated and under weight seeds and fertiliser are
making things difficult for farmers. Farmers` income could
be substantially increased if quality seeds, fertilisers,
machinery, pesticides and other services were given to
farmers in time and on cheaper rates.
Courtesy: The DAWN