Businessmen have voiced hope that agriculture will be the prime area of focus for policymakers as it can alone lift Pakistan’s economy to its peak.

“Pakistan is a sleeping technology giant and the day it wakes up, it will become a developed country,” remarked Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Mian Tariq Misbah.

Talking to a group of businessmen and exporters on Friday, he added that the agriculture sector was considered the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, however, it lately faced various problems such as lack of appropriate technology, high input costs, unavailability of water and shrinking crop area.

He stressed that major crops such as cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables could attract huge foreign exchange for the country.

“Despite having all the resources, there is a huge gap between demand and production, which is hitting allied industries and the economy as well,” he said.

Misbah urged the government to enhance the area under crop plantations to avoid the crisis-like situation currently being witnessed in the cotton segment.

“Pakistan cannot afford to stay where it is today in terms of crop area and per hectare yield because it is already running short on per capita food and the raw material required by the industry,” he said.

“Though over 43% of Pakistan’s labour force is dependent on agriculture, the yield gap in four major crops is three times compared to best producers around the world such as China and Egypt,” Misbah said.

“Low yields have contributed to poverty in rural areas besides forcing the country to import the agricultural produce to feed its population.”

Giving recommendations for improving the yields, he called for large-scale introduction of hybrid seeds and mechanised farming, high efficiency irrigation systems and reduction in post-harvest losses through the setting up of cold storage facilities and agri-processing industry.

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