Focus on agriculture and electronics

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THE economic and financial vows of the country can be tackled effectively if the declared emphasis of the Government on agriculture, electronics and manufacturing of electric vehicles, as has been stated by Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, is practically implemented. Speaking at the 4-day 23rd Sustainable Development Conference on Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19, he said the emergence of technology affected all areas of the traditional economy and the Government was encouraging investment in technology.
It is appreciable that for the first time in many years, the Ministry of Science and Technology seems to be moving in the right direction under the vibrant leadership of Fawad Chaudhry as is evident from policy announcements and measures initiated by the Ministry during the last one year. It is instrumental in launching scientific and technological programmes and projects as per national agenda for sustainable socio-economic development. Pakistan has remained in the grip of almost persistent financial and economic crises but unfortunately sectors that offered the way out were neglected and focus remained just on textile but its true potential too is yet to be exploited due to lack of modernization, skill development, value addition and research and development. Pakistan is an agrarian country with fertile land and elaborate irrigation system but despite all this the country is still spending huge amounts on imports of food items. It is shameful that we are importing even wheat and pulses due to lack of proper planning and investment in the agriculture field. There is a need to identify weaknesses, plan remedies and assign targets to institutions like Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and agricultural universities that could result in a meaningful increase in crop output and world class quality so as to meet not just local requirements but also produce surplus for exports. Similarly, focus on indigenous manufacturing of electronics and vehicles could save billions that we spend on imports and the country can earn enough foreign exchange through exports to take care of its needs. Prominent economist Dr. Ishrat Hussain has rightly pointed out that if we capture just 1% of the Chinese market by providing components, raw material and intermediate goods to the Chinese supply chain, our export to it alone will amount to $23 billion. We hope that Fawad Chaudhry would be able to make a difference through effective coordination of policies with other relevant ministries as his ministry alone cannot create a conducive environment for accelerating the pace of agriculture growth and industrialization.