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Sustainable development imperative for meeting future food needs.

Sustainable Development Imperative for Meeting Future Food Needs


Economic growth must be viewed as a process which makes growth sustainable overtime must be conserved. In agrarian society, this principle of husbandry of natural resources to sustain production was basic to survival. This is essential as adoption of strategy for attaining balanced growth in South Asian countries, of which Pakistan, is no exception proved less effective. For this, there is a need for envisaging strategy on South Korea pattern in laying emphasis on establishing highly export-oriented industries and growing of highly value added crops attaining sustainable development. In the modern age, however, technology widened the margin of safety between production and survival. As a consequence, the husbanding of natural resources tends to become delinked from and external to the processes of industrial and agricultural production. The world population is projected to double and most of the increased people will face ecologically fragile lands in developing countries. Sustainable development in its broad aspects requires collective action to resolve debt problems, strengthen international financial stability, redirect resources away from wasteful armaments and generally, re-establish conditions for expanding trade and global economic growth.

What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development is about being fair to the future. It is about leaving the next generation a similar, or better, resource endowment than that which we inherited. Resources enable us to achieve society's goals, the maximum well-being of the population combined with special concern for the most disadvantaged, the poor, the sick, the infirm. But, any generation can increase its well being at the expense of the future by plundering resources now, by rapidly depleting exhaustible resources such as coal, copper, silver, oil and gas by removing more than the sustainable yield of renewable resources such as arable land using to its maximum productive use. Using of land, livestock and fish resources to its maximum and by disposing of wastes to receiving environments in amounts greater than those environments can assimilate. Being fair to the future means behaving sustainable. It means taking only the sustainable yield from renewable resources and honouring the environment's limited capability for receiving waste. It means using exhaustible resources wisely so that, as they are depleted, the profits from their use are reinvested in technology and other forms of capital wealth on productive avenues.

In Pakistan and India, the use of high yielding varieties has been successful for both wheat and rice. The potential for irrigation is still large. In Pakistan, the irrigated area of 16 million hectare could be doubled by exploiting underground and surface water judiciously. As against this, in India, the irrigated area of 35 million hectare could be doubled and that of Bangladesh, of 1 million hectare could be quadrupled through small irrigation works and major flood control schemes. Further, the financial and technical constraints do not allow to implement such prospective plan. Package programmes combining water management, chemical fertilizer, viable seed and pest control in 1960 accounted for improved agricultural performance in the three countries. The existing tempo could not be continued because of not accelerating research and adequate supply of improved inputs and other development ingredients suiting to local conditions.

Emerging Government Objective

An emerging among governments objective has been food self-sufficiency, viewed in terms of reducing foodgrain inputs, rather than one of producing food under conditions that provide everyone with the ability to consume its adequate quantities. Government intervention to achieve this objective may be according to three categories: (i) public investment in agricultural infrastructure and supportive system; (ii) modification of the economic environment through incentives and detergents, usually price, tax, trade policies and direct interaction of redistributed assets. For increasing agricultural output in real terms it become crucial to lay emphasis on: (i) ensuring a smooth functioning of marketing and distribution system of development-cum-production ingredients, including farm-to-market roads and transport facilities; (ii) removing constraints to work under improved conditions it become necessary to bring land reforms as an economic measure to provide social justice, to educate people, to form cooperatives in the light of cooperative principles by pooling of resources by themselves and to provide real base for water management practices, mechanization, subsidized, supply of improved inputs (like seeds; fertilizers, pesticides) and credit facilities coupled with new technology and timely supply of inputs adequately. There are measures like organizing input supplies, research, training and extension to impart knowledge on new adaptive technologies, constructing rural infrastructure and organizing package schemes for the encouragement of particular specialized crop as well as to related industries based on their by-products creating effective demand and ensuring their price of produce to farmers, thereby increasing farm investment capabilities in real terms.

Increase in World Population

By the year 2000, it is projected that world population will increasing from the present four billion to between six and seven billion and with them the need for food will grow at least proportionately. Estimates indicate that between 450 million and 1 billion people do not get enough to eat now, and this number is likely to increase with the population. Over a quarter, Pakistan and India's population is undernourished and estimates of the proportion below the poverty line try from two-fifths to two-thirds. The latest nutrition survey for Bangladesh shows that only 3.5 per cent of the rural population is adequately feed and over 25 per cent suffer from severe malnutrition. To cope with current and future food demand, governments of developing and under-developed countries have traditionally emphasized two iines of action; reducing future demand by slowing population growth and augmenting food supplies by expanding production without application of improved technology. A third vital complementary measure, however is reducing the loss of food during and after harvest, the fact which has not been adequately emphasized and because of lack of money and planning which needs to be given highest priority, if at all two square meals is to be ensured to additional mouths. This is necessary as the minimum overall losses of 10 per cent for durable crops like grains and 20 per cent for non-grain staples, perishable, and fish are estimated. In other case, productivity level in real terms through application of viable technology has to be enhanced.

Pakistan population has been growing at a rate around 3 per cent per annum birth rate and rapidly declining mortality. This phenomena of rapidly growing population in Pakistan is also being accompanied by increasing concentration of population in the younger age group, constituting 44.52 per cent (below 15) in 1981 against 43.84 in 1972. As such, Pakistan is the ninth most populous country in the world. Its population, according to 1981 Census, was 84.25 million, which is estimated to have increased by 110.36 million in 1990 with existing growth rate of 3.1 per cent, the population of which is estimated to have increased to 152 million by 2000. Even in case growth rate in a strategic way is checked to 2.9 per cent then population is estimated to be 124 million. Keeping in view this increase in population, the overall demand of agricultural commodities in the year 200 for moderate and high demand scenarios as per Report of the National Commission on Agriculture, 1988 is given in Table-I.

This above projection has been made on the probability of average growth rate of the economy falling to their historic levels of 5.6 per cent per annum for the entire 1988-2000 period which, under existing conditions, is difficult to achieve as the trend of achieving envisaged targets of various crops in the past with the exception of few like cotton and fruits has been below the target fixed during eighty's. The production target envisaged for various crops for the year 2000 can be seen in Table-II:

In countries with large agricultural sectors, overall developments is clearly dependent on agricultural development. It is a fact that despite making all-out efforts developing countries, of which Pakistan is no exception, have not been able to achieve high, sustained economic growth mainly because of lacking substantial increase in agricultural productivity. Pakistan is bestowed with abundant natural resources, including those required for agricultural production. However, two major tasks facing today by the agrarian community, proving hurdle in the way of increasing productivity level, are as follows: i) How best to introduce new technology

in farming enterprise? and ii) How to adjust the management of

resources to meet the changing cost?

Agricultural development takes place only when increased productivity and output are reflected in rising real income and hence in rising standard of living of the people. There is no denying the fact that in recent years the production of almost all the major crops has gone up, particularly of wheat and cotton, and quite at a substantial rate. As this needs realistic strategy to be envisaged for increasing production in real terms making it as an exportable country for grains. The reliance on import of wheat has to be abandoned at any cost. Pakistan has capability of producing 30 million tonnes of wheat alone, in case average growers are brought to the level of innovative-cum-progressive in respect to the adoption of improved farm practices resulting in high level of productivity as is evident from Table-II. The impact of improved farm practices of innovative-cum-progressive growers on productivity level, compared with Asia and the world can be seen in Table-III.

This table shows that the yield of our of progressive growers is not less than the average yield of Asia and the world. This progressive class, in fact, forms not more than 15 to 18 per cent and has to be increased, if at all production in real terms is to be enhanced. This needs education and increased capability of investment on improved practices. The main causes for increase in yield consist of replacement of bullock power by tractor, aided with improved cultural practices based on mechanical devices and through use of improved inputs like, improved seed, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and water technology adopted by the progressive farmers on a large scale. As such, these innovations have illustrated dramatically what new technology can accomplish if combined with competitive market prices and high investment. This has made Asian countries, including Pakistan, largely self-sufficient in grains while enabling major productivity increases in various crops although such state remained for a very short duration. The development is part of the technological advances that has transformed productivity in agriculture. Some of the countries are catching up in agricultural productivity but the gap between the productivity of developing countries and that of industrial countries appears to be increasing as no breakthrough into technology in an appropriate manner is taking place. Changes in agricultural, associated with processing and other aspects of post-harvest technology are still lacking because of low investment and skill to harness available resources to its maximum. Water being the major constraint the possibilities of bringing new land into cultivation are limited. Farm output in most developing countries can be raised only by increasing productivity which requires investment in new technologies and educational infrastructure.

Almost all the developed countries have not adopted, in varying degree of planning, the means of assisting themselves to achieve self-sustained growth. Planning is as much an art as it is a science. Art stands for doing and science for knowing. Planners must not know what is and what ought to be but in realistic sense of what can be done, and how it can be done. Plans which mainly deal with the description of the present situation and a list of broad goals and global quantities target of what the situation ought to be if implemented in a systematized manner. The sole objective is to achieve envisaged goals mainly based on enhancing productivity and income so as to make any enterprise a profitable entity by way of judicious real location of resources. A basis problem with planned agricultural development in developing countries is that central planners specify what mush be done to achieve target without specifying how, by whom and when.

Conclusions and Policy


Agricultural development cannot be considered in isolation. It is more dependent on macro economic and other economy-wide policies than specific intervention in agricultural sector. For this, there is a need for formulating a strategy for agricultural development by taking into consideration the main factors explained above. The fact is that without making appropriate institutional arrangements for development of operational knowledge of various aspects of modern farming and the efficient transmission of the knowledge to farmers in the field, productivity level in real terms cannot be enhanced. This, in fact, is a challenge which we have to face in a resolute and strategic manner if we are interested in establishing our national economy on sound footing. This will only be possible when sustainable development is attained on being fair to the future. [Tabular Data Omitted.]

Table : TABLE - III
 Yield of Average and progressive Growers Compared
 with International Average
 Average of Pakistan International Average
 Average Progressive National
 Growers Growers Average Asia World
Wheat 1552 2942 1835 2135 2217
Rice 2245 3835 1632 3289 3921
Cotton 1075 2088 511 1281 1431
Sugarcane 48404 93274 38810 55051 60056
Maize 1304 2519 1272 2595 3686

Source: i) Survey on Factual-finding Regarding Productivity Levels on Progressive and average farmers in Pakistan, 1986, Economic Research ADBP. ii) *Pakistan Basic Facts, 1985-86.
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Title Annotation:agricultural development in Pakistan
Author:Khan, Rao Abdul Rauf
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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