Poor Farmers of the Rich Punjab

By Asif A Malik

Agriculture is the wealth of nations. After the massive destruction of 2nd world war, Japan initiated its revival plans on the basis of two sectors: efficient use of agriculture land and motivating its youth to travel to technologically advanced countries for higher technical education. The results were surprising and Japan covered herself from the trauma of economic and social disability bringing in sustainable growth for its people. Perhaps, this is the reason, that Japan has the highest rate of wide spread agricultural fields which start just 5 feet away from their motorways and highways to ensure the most efficient use of national land. It also includes growing two different types of crops in the same field multiple times in a year. Such outstanding and visionary planning has made Japan one of the world’s top economies and favorite destinations for huge investments from across the world.

Pakistan, having four seasons, rich and fertile land for wheat, rice, fruits, flowers, and vegetables, is considered to be as one of the most charming countries in the world. Agriculture is the backbone of this beautiful portrait. The Punjab province serves as the food basket for the country. However, apart from declining output ratio of crops as in general statistics compared to neighboring countries, the situation of a common farmer in Punjab has not been improved at a satisfactory level. There are issues and opportunities in every domain. The wiser are supposed to frame such mechanism which can practically address the miserable situation of the farmers in Punjab so that the human resource, agriculture land, agricultural resources and government schemes can bring the tangible results and benefits for potential growth of this sector.

Feudalism and Serfdom are the greatest challenges being faced by the farmers in Punjab. It starts from one generation and goes on to next generation and then to the next one with a never ending sign. The victims usually sell their honor, liberty, peace, pride, prestige and respect in return of the feudal’s loans with huge interest rates which they cannot pay throughout their life. In modern world of the 21st century, this is new form of human slavery that reminds us the concept of Divine King in ancient Maya civilization.

There is nothing worse than eating alone and there is nothing darker than being illiterate. In spite of fast paced reforms in formal and non formal education sector in Punjab, the education and training of farmers still remains a question mark. There are latest developments every other day in agriculture sector, water management, pesticides usages and scientific discoveries in seeds, live stock management and financial planning for the agricultural land. However, it is state of concern that 90% of the farmers all over the Punjab don’t have practical access to this fundamentally important information. It results in their poor performance and narrow approach towards a better outcome of their efforts.

Have you ever experienced the state of being helplessness when all your income of six months hard work under the thundering and scratching weathers brings you nothing but despair and disappointment? The middle men or commission agents, who usually lend fertilizers, diesel and pesticides to the farmers on heavy interest rate in Punjab, get lion’s share from the seasonal crops. It is most neglected factor in agriculture sector of Punjab which hinders a direct connection between a farmer and Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Cooperation Ltd (PASSCO) which is responsible for direct purchase of the wheat and rice crops from the farmers. Ideally, it never happens as PASSCO is totally dominated .

Being an agrarian country, agricultural sector of Pakistan’s economy is still backward and particularly in Punjab, it needs very serious attention so that potential benefits for sustainable economic growth of the province could be achieved. The fact remains the same that in Punjab farmers tried their best to boost up the wheat and rice production. However, they face lot of difficulties in normal agricultural practices as mentioned above. There is no doubt that the Punjab government has given incentives for the benefit of the farmers. However, there is dire need to evaluate the programs evaluations and setting the life of a farmer free from the yoke of feudal and politicians.

Pakistan ranks among the top ten producers in the world for at least 25 agricultural commodities. If significant developments are made on life of farmers and their grounded social, systematic and economical issues, their lives can be brighten up where they can work with more motivation, sense of protection and achieving future value.
At later stage, comes the value addition and good marketing practices in national and international markets. Pakistan as a whole can experience a boost to the already high export potential of its fresh and processed agricultural products. It is an untapped market and foreign and local investors together can help in its development. Last but not the least, making life of a farmer as much easy as possible and using modern techniques, provision of credit facilities, basic infrastructure and agriculture research facilities, all together can remove the problems of agriculture sector in Punjab to enable it to outperform for sustainable national growth.