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Pakistan is largely an agrarian economy. Its agriculture sector alone accounts for over 18% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employs more than 40% of the labor force. There are entire communities that specialize in growing valuable crops of fruits, vegetables and grains, and add to the quintessential flavours of Pakistan. Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan labelled agriculture as the backbone of the economy and unveiled a PKR 300 billion transformation package. In a series of new initiatives, PM Khan unveiled Kisan Cards which will primarily uplift the socio-economic wellbeing of Pakistani farmers. These Kisan Cards are a new addition to any government’s policies on agriculture. Let’s explore these in greater detail.
What Are Kisan Cards?
These cards will be distributed to the farmers in Pakistan to provide them with help, especially in times of calamity. On the basis of the cards, the farmers will be aided by the government.
Through these cards, the farmers can purchase seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from the registered dealers on rates lower than the prevailing market rates, by showing their cards.
As per details by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, the cards will help the government give direct subsidy to the small-scale farmers. He added that in most subsidisation programs, the smaller farmers remain unreachable by the government, which creates avenues for ineffective allocation of money. Therefore, with cards and registered farmers, this problem can be avoided in years to come.
The farmers can also apply for crop insurance. Moreover, the card provides targeted, smart subsidies for agricultural inputs to 5 million farmers especially with small landholding of up to 5 acres land.
How Do Kisan Cards Work?
These cards have been issued by the Pakistan Information Technology Board (PITB), in a bid to match farmers with the exact government initiatives. What the PITB has essentially done is to provide a transparent and efficient mechanism for the implementation of government interventions. Going digital, PITB has provided all district administrations access to an online portal where can add details of the farmers, working under their jurisdiction.
Information pertaining to demographics, contact details, crops and landholding patterns, livestock, irrigation system and mechanization have been entered for each registered farmer. This database will then be used by the government for appropriate allocation of schemes to the farmers, and also providing them with useful information. In addition to this, PM Khan also took notice of traditional methods of farming being employed by farmers and instructed that a trained professional per Union Council will be responsible for visiting farmers in remote areas and training them as per modern methods.
The PITB has directed registered farmers to make their thumb verification at nearby HBL Connect shop and had their accounts opened. However, the non-registered farmers have to contact the agriculture extension department staff.
During the launch ceremony of these cards in Multan, PM Khan said this initiative will uplift the lives of the farmers, and help them earn a better livelihood. This is one of the many initiatives the government has announced in the agriculture sector.
Agriculture Initiatives In Addition To Kisan Cards
The first thing the government did for the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 was to align the price of wheat with international market prices. This, according to PM Khan has caused an additional earning of PKR 680 billion when compared with financial year 2018, as revenues stand at PKR 2,708 billion.
Moreover, the government has announced an agricultural development package worth PKR 300 billion. Under this regime, proper storage facilities will be developed for fresh produce, 50% of which is lost each season. Moreover, PM Khan has also announced that the incumbent government will double loans to farmers, increase production of fertilisers and cereal, improve local production of medicinal plants, corn and develop the fishery sector such as prawns.
Pakistan’s Agriculture Sector & CPEC
In 2021, the government moved to have Pakistan’s agriculture sector included in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This will allow for infrastructural projects, and long term sustainable plans to be implemented in the agriculture sector. China has already expressed interest in investing in Pakistan’s meat and dairy industries. Moreover, with China, Pakistan has a new market it can approach for its produce.
Both of which are associated with agriculture and livestock. While the former has labelled Pakistan as the finest dairy and meat producer, it has highlighted problems with Pakistan’s processing and storage facilities.
Earlier Ambassador Nong Rong also expressed interest in Pakistan’s olives, honey, fresh and dry fruits, saffron and precious stones and said that the two countries can work towards strengthening cooperation in these.
Foreign cooperation and investment in agriculture is a welcomed move, and as more initiatives are undertaken, we will keep updating our information.
This year we are expecting sustained growth in the agriculture sector. The provision of these Kisan Card will further help in rendering strength to the farmers, and the economy. What more initiatives do you think should be introduced in the agriculture sector? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, keep checking Pakistan’s largest property blog, Zameen Blog, for the latest news on Pakistan.