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Attaining sustainable agriculture - need of the hour.

We are still in the process of transaction in the history of agriculture. Prior to the beginning of three Revolution of 60s the cultivable waste land that could be transferred under cultivation was 31 million hectares which has now decreased to 20 million showing thus large scope for bringing new land under cultivation. Today even after lapsing of four decades of planned era about 50% of land resumes equivalent to land already in command has still remained to be exploited. Despite of all constraints bountiful yields in almost all the crops specially wheat, rice, sugar and cotton has been obtained. In matter of food we have reached nearer to serf-sufficiency, but in case such situation continued then how can we increased food production to meet future needs. For this attention has to be paid on making Agriculture sustainable which is fair to the future growth to which aspect priority is to be given. For this there is need to lay emphasis towards as in most countries, the transition from a resources-based to a Science based system of agriculture. In developed world the process of completing one of most remarkable transactions in the history of agriculture long before where as in developing world it has began after mid-century but not in a systematic manner by increasing applications of agricultural technology enabled the farmers to meet future demands. Optimists cite as evidence the declining world wheat international price since the middle of last century and declining rice prices since the middle of century. But the past may not accurately fore tell the future. Particularly in the developing countries, explosive growth in population and per capita consumption incurring more than 78 per cent of budgeting in meeting staple food, need will produce exceedingly high demands into the middle of the next century.

As second reason for concern is that gains in agricultural production that will be needed over the next quarter century will be much more difficult to achieve than those of immediate past. This is a fact that it has been very recently realized that increased application of fertilizers are today producing declining in increase in production. Further to add to this is that the amount being spent on research supply to prevent yields from dealing is rising as a share of total research spending. This worries particularly developing countries just to maintain their current agricultural research capacity. However, Ruttan W. Vernm, the author of the article titled "Art and Science of Sustainable Agriculture published in the International Development Bank's November 1992 issue, believes that although advances in molecular biology and genetic engineering will probably reduce the constraints on productivity growth in the major grain crops, they can do nothing to eliminate the need so called "subsidies" from outside the agriculture sector. These subsidies consists primarily of transfer of energy in the form of minerals fuels, pest control chemicals and mineral nutrients, all of which are essential for sustaining growth in agricultural production. Further the spill over effects from intensified agriculture include loss of soil due to erosion water logging and salinization, surface and ground water contamination from plan nutrients and pesticides, resistance of insects, weeds and pathogens to present method of control and the loss of natural habitats. Further expansion of agriculture into fragile environments and conversion of forests to croplands will cause soil erosion and desertification, species loss, degradation of water quality and climate change. All this necessitates us to lay emphasis on sustainability issue. In order to survive it become necessary specially for developing countries like Pakistan must sustain technology needed to meet new demands. As against this the leading nations believe in attaining sustainable development steadfastly.

The role played by agricultural development of a developing country like Pakistan, is very significant. Though the share of agriculture sector in GDP has come down from 65 per cent in 1950-51 to 25 per cent in 1991-92, it still plays a dominant role in determining the national income, year after year.

Undoubtedly technology and its development and assessment, its transfer and diffusion its upgradation and blending is and will remain the key factor in the progress, pattern and pace of social and economic development. It is in fact as much crucial to increasing productivity, as for reducing costs, as much needed for development of agriculture as of industry, as much critical to a stagnant society as to a stagnant one. As simple definition of technology can be: it is a human knowledge applied to production or consumption i.e. used knowledge Technology is a source of advancement of an organization of society which may be handed over from one entity to another. It is not synonymous with transmission of information for technology is a production input. As per UNIDO the term technology or know-how denotes the sum of knowledge experience and skills necessary for manufacturing of a products or for establishing an enterprise for the purpose. Technology may then broadly be seen as systems, methods and procedures with supportive physical equipments as may be employed in the input - conversion - out put process in an organization. It includes all the means which help improve efficient conversion of resources into products and service. It may also manifest itself in the use of inputs and knowledge, thereby leading to an upward shift in the production function. The importance of technology can best be appreciated from the facts that 90 per cent of the existing human knowledge was developed during the past three decades. And it is the technology based on this knowledge, which is the driving force behind all major developments in the society. At the same time, the life cycles of products, process and knowledge/skills are astonishing by becoming short. If societies do not change, innovate and apply technology, they face the risk of stagnative and decline.

Why Technology Transfer ?

Why should one concern oneself with technology transfer ?. It is a legitimate question, more so, when it is known that technology has, in the past, displaced labour, threatened environment and quality of life and resulted in marginalization of the poor. However, it should also be appreciated that without application of technology, the gigantic task before the society like poverty alleviation, imposed standards of living more material goods and lower price, cannot be accomplished. More particularly the vast gap that exist between yields of crops obtaining in one country and these obtained else where, high cost of production of certain goods here and elsewhere, between drudgery that some of our people have to face every day and the ease with which people elsewhere work, cannot be bridged, except through careful assessed technology transfer processes. The fact is that no induced change can occur in isolation because of the interdependence of various parts of a culture, change introduced in any one aspect of life usually produces secondary and territory changes elsewhere. This change mainly require capital to invest for increasing productivity and income generation in relative terms. The society in which saving rate is low the tempo of investment also remain in low ebb. In order to convert society into productive one, adequate arrangement for supply of timely credit equipped with desired inputs have to be made.

Un-employment and low labour productivity are to my mind the major challenges facing the Pakistan economy today. Labour is the source of all wealth and as long as this resource available in abundance in our country remains neglected, neither sustained nor equitable growth of the economy is possible. Maximum generation of a employment opportunities along with increase in labour productivity are thus not only required for sustained growth but also for equitable growth and removal of absolute poverty.

The fact is that the emphasis on labour productivity in the agricultural sector seems quite obvious both because of the relatively much lower level of labour productivity in agriculture sector but also because even to-day fifty per cent of the labour force is still employed in agriculture. No significant improvement in over all productivity of labour can be expected as long as labour productivity in the agriculture sector remains depressed.

Besides the gap in labour productivity between LDC's including Pakistan and D.C.s including densely populated Japan is much wider in agricultural sector than in the manufacturing sector. This point to a great potential for increasing agricultural production. Table - I, shows comparison of labour productivity in the agricultural sector for developed and developing countries:-
TABLE - I
Labour Productivity in Agriculture in DCs and LDCs
(Tons of Wheat)
 Output
 Output Per
 (Per Male Agri.
Region Hec.) Workers
DCs 0.93 46.3
LDCs 0.59 2.8
Source: FAO Prod. Year Book 1979.


Emphasis on employment generation in agricultural sector however needs a little explanation. The sector is already saddled with surplus labour which in turn is said to be one of the causes of its low productivity. A transfer of labour from this sector is often considered a precondition for increase in labour productivity. This is achieved largely by a steady transfer of labour out of low productivity traditional agriculture into the industrial sector.

The rate of increase of labour force is estimated to be around 2.5 per cent per annum amounting to about 0.8 million new entrants in the organized labour market. This agriculture sector is employment intensive and its expansion seem promising on that count. However, it is not likely to add much to welfare considering the factors contributing to its expansion. That apart even on most optimistic assumptions the rate of growth of output and employment elasticity of output the non agricultural sector including services is at the most expected to absorb 40% of the additions to labour force. The remaining burden of employment generation based on annual increase in labour forces has therefore to be borne by the agricultural sector. On top of it, there is the problem of underutilized labour within agriculture. How well is the agricultural labour sector equipped today to carry out, this enormous task generation of one million new jobs every year and at the same time attain an increase in its labour productivity. In developing countries like our underutilization of labour in agriculture, low agricultural production and low level of labour productivity are interlocked. Employment generation and increased labour productivity reinforce each other in various ways in agriculture. One of the causes of low productivity of labour in agriculture is the lack of capital formation in the sector. For this there is need to identify hidden labour investment activities associated with land, which augment quality of land and also favourably effect ability of land to absorb larger amount labour for current productive activities.

Further employment generation and enhanced labour productivity are also positively linked via the product market or effective demand. This in turn induces farmers to 90 in for technological improvement opening up possibilities of raising labour productivity as well as output in the agricultural sector. New technologies did however open up possibilities of increase in cropping intensity because of shorter duration crops, but this did not materialize as well as endowed farmers could raise their profit using fertilizers and introducing mechanization. This did not seem to have any incentive to increase cropping intensity. The agricultural research system in Pakistan has to address itself to the task of reducing regional imbalances, to the needs of small and marginal farmers to improvement in productivity specially of dryland farming and importing stability to agricultural output which is required in intensive location, specific research to fit the technology to local environment. At the same time there is need to change the environment to create conditions suitable for adoption of new technology specially in presently backward regions and by small farmers. For this huge public investment for development of infrastructure is required in laggard regions. Besides to enable our farmers to benefits from new techniques, in which package of services have to be provided namely credit, a net-work of rural roads, regulated markets, go downs and ofcourse incentives prices. Further every out efforts may be made to facilitate an increase in gross cropped are via are increase in cropping intensity, irrigation coverage has to be increase at least by one half of which there exists potential. All this will incidently help to reduce instability of agricultural output, besides generating employment opportunities and raising productivity.
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Title Annotation:Pakistan
Author:Khan, Rao Abdul Rauf
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:2044
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