Poverty reduction has always been a central objective for every political government in Pakistan, yet every ruling party has miserably failed in reducing poverty so far. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has allocated a sum of 82 billion rupees to fight the rural poverty by targeting the agriculture sector of the nation’s economy. The intervention to take people out of poverty is a much-needed step and response, undoubtedly.
However, the report, which details the area where the amount will be spent to fight poverty in the countryside, fails to recognise that most of the population that live in rural set up are victims of multi-dimensional poverty. Rural poverty cannot be fought with just focusing on the agriculture sector, though agriculture sector is in dire need of intervention by the government to put it on the right track.
After making a minor correction on the state’s approach to combat poverty, this editorial appreciates that the government’s transformative plan is an attempt to modernise the agri-sector. The idea seems progressive. The reason that the proposal presented needs an appreciation is the fact that agriculture remains the best option through which the government can push for early economic recovery. The plan to invest in inputs is the best viable way. The package will help in the availability of inputs such as seedlings, fertilisers and other products.
Furthermore, the government has rightly identified the need for improving water efficiency. Pakistan is a water stressed country. Because of the out-dated water management strategy, we lose water worth $21 billion annually, Indus River System Authority (IRSA) lamented last year. Improving watercourses in Pakistan was direly needed. Hopefully, the government’s initiatives will save the minimum amount of water that the document reveals that is 9 million-acre feet (MAF). Furthermore, making laser-levelling technology available will also help farmers to use water efficiently. Availability of laser levelling technology alone can boost food security.
The Ministry of Food is also determined to improve livestock that is one of the essential subsectors of Pakistan agriculture. This subsector contributes approximately 56% of value addition in agriculture and nearly 11 % to the gross domestic products (GDP). The share of livestock in the agriculture sector is enormous because of its overall contribution. The government intervention in livestock will indeed diversify it.
The government deserves appreciation for all the schemes that it holds for revamping the agriculture. However, stress is again laid on the fact that the government should also formulate a comprehensive policy to tackle the issue of multi-dimensional poverty. A dream of increasing our human capital will remain unfulfilled if we do not take out the 39% of our population that live in multi-dimensional poverty.