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Poor agri yields
 By   Editorials


Poor agri yields:-Pakissan.comPakistan-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry  President Shah Faisal Afridi emphasised the need to increase agricultural yield through "eco-farming" with the objective of averting a food crisis.

He urged the farmers to adopt the Chinese cultivation model which focuses on hybrid seeds, better water management.

An enhanced government role for ensuring effective safety and support mechanisms notably constructing food grain reservoirs as well as public-private partnership to overcome the food crisis.

There is evidently no question that China has emerged as a major farm producer.

And even though it accounts for 10 percent of arable land world-wide it meets 20 percent of world food demand.

So what exactly are the five modernization policies that were proactively followed by the Chinese government over decades and which, in turn, led to a massive improvement in yield per hectare.

First in 1978, the Chinese government gave the responsibility to decide what to produce from communes back to individual farmers and gave each farmer a quota that was to be given to his/her collective unit in return for necessary implements and inputs.

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In Pakistan the wide difference between yield of the small number of rich absentee landlords with large landholdings (who can afford expensive technology and have the contacts to access credit.

Water and other inputs at subsidised rates) and the large number of subsistence farmer remains a major reason why national yields have not been improved significantly over decades.

Second, the Chinese government engaged in irrigation projects like the Three Gorges Dam.

However, studies indicate that China's projected farm output would fall by 14 to 23 percent by 2050 due to water shortages predicted as a consequence of climate change.

Pakistan as has been frequently noted by researchers is fast becoming a water deficit country and it is extremely unfortunate that there appears to be little focus by Islamabad on engaging with India to resolving water issues.

In addition, there is an urgent need to build water reservoirs.

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Third, the Chinese government also encourages mechanisation and use of fertilizer - policies that have also been put forth by Pakistan;

However, a dearth of resources and an inadequate focus on innovation as well as the perennial issue raised by domestic fertilizer sector namely whether to allocate scarce gas for electricity or fertilizer manufacture have impeded greater use of fertilisers in Pakistan.

Fourth, in 1984 the Chinese government liberalised farm pricing and marketing.

In Pakistan the government continues to exert control over pricing (support prices which raises output of one crop and reduces output of another) and marketing though its capacity to enforce reasonable prices in city markets remains questionable.

Finally organic or as the President of PCJCCI stated eco-farming has enabled the Chinese government to ensure food safety, health benefits.

Export opportunities and as per analysts the adoption of organics has assisted in slowing down the migration of rural labour to cities.

Afridi also mentioned other environment-friendly techniques in use in China:

For example, increasing rice yields through duck farming in which ducks are raised on rice paddies and fed on pests and weeds and in addition the farmer has no need to use fertilisers as duck droppings are an excellent fertilizer.

To conclude: there are numerous studies on farm models undertaken by numerous researchers and submitted to provincial governments for implementation.

However, the yield imbalance between the rich and poor farmers remains and government intervention in terms of support price has simply increased the output of one crop at the cost of another.

Agriculture remains a major employer in this country and the increasing stress on our cities already deficient infrastructure due to migration from rural areas as well as conflict zones can and should be dealt with through appropriate agriculture reforms.

However, with vested interests of the big landlords so heavily represented in our assemblies this appears unlikely in the near future.

September, 2014

Source:  Business Recorder

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