LTE: Better utility of govt schemes

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Shahid Saleem
Islamabad

It is heartening to see that over the past few years, the government of Pakistan has increased its focus on the development and growth of the agricultural sector. Numerous valuable incentives like the subsidy on Phosphatic and Nitrogenous fertilizers, agricultural loans to small farmers along with several other initiatives were taken in the Kissan Package to support the farming community.
However, the optimum benefits of these incentives could not reach the deserving communities in the agricultural sector. This has happened because of abrupt decisions to achieve desired objectives without well-thought out planning. Moreover, the key stakeholders were not engaged in the process of devising these support measures and the required synergy could not be achieved. For instance; last year the Kissan Package was announced at an inappropriate time which disturbed the fertilizer supply chain and resulted in adverse market conditions. Ultimately the farmers could not get affordable fertilizers at the time of application on Wheat crop. If such incentive programs are launched without considering the suggestions of the industry-experts and stakeholders, the real value and advantages cannot be achieved. Therefore, these schemes will not have a positive impact on the growth of agricultural sector and overall progress of Pakistan’s economy which relies heavily on this sector.
The fertilizer industry has always been the main support pillar of Pakistan’s agricultural economy, but it has been burdened with heavy taxation for many years now. There is a dire need to extend more support to enhance productivity and improve the industry’s overall standing. If the government helps the fertilizer industry by lowering excessive taxation and allowing them to produce fertilizers at optimum levels, the industry would not only meet local demand but it will also have the ability to export additional quantities and earn valuable foreign exchange. Better farm economics will improve the overall well-being of farming community in particular and agricultural sector in general ensuring food security for majority of population in Pakistan.