Food Security has emerged as a potential challenge for many governments across the globe. It is important that the production of food items keeps pace with the fast growing population of the world. Equally important challenge is the ever shrinking economic viability of the small farmers which affects efficient production methods enabling farmers to make reasonably acceptable income. Needless to emphasize that the family farmer is an important player in the rural economy as an owner, worker and manager which is an important lynchpin in the broader link up with larger corporate agricultural landscape.
Against this background, the theme “Family Farming: Feed the World, Caring for the Earth” selected by FAO for 2014 is all the more relevant. This day spotlights the importance of family farming in regional and global landscape. For Pakistanit carries much greater weight as the theme and its concept revolves around agriculture. This year’s theme also has personal dimensions as it reflects the priorities of the government as our manifesto lays down most prominent marker around agriculture which seeks to turn around the economy of Pakistan. I see tremendous investment coming into this area with public and private partnership playing a crucial role, facilitating enabling environment for small farmers.
Government is fully aware of the gigantic challenges that Pakistan faces in agriculture. Unfortunately, the small farmer gets the biggest hit. While the 18th Constitutional Amendment assigns much greater responsibility to the provincial governments in the areas of extension and development, the federal government remains committed to its obligations in devoting its resources to agriculture research, international cooperation and technology transfer.
Recognizing the primary constitutional responsibility of the provinces for the promotion of productivity enhancement in crops and livestock, meat and dairy products, the federal government will launch a series of flagship projects at national level which would seek stronger national and international linkages, development of supply chains and innovative institutional arrangements. With the rising population and decreasing farm size there is a need to develop Family Farmer which should be linked up with the larger corporate sector. Ministry of National Food Security & Research is working with the provinces on a targeted programme to support such enterprises. That needs to be augmented with appropriate technological package, best husbandry practices and a community based marketing system. Pakistan is lucky to have diverse agro climatic zones which are ideal for the production of sub-tropical and temperate fruits and vegetables. The federal Ministry is also working on introducing new crops and fruits such a Kiwi, Avocado and other highly nutritious food and fodder plants.
Another area of greater focus is fisheries and aquaculture. We have 1200 kilometers of coastline which has immense potential for enhanced fish production. The federal government needs to give greater attention to the development of nurseries for fish breeding and help attract foreign investment. The federal government is also actively engaged in developing Zero Hunger and Family Farming Programme taking a page out of the Brazilian experience in close collaboration with existing initiative such as Prime Minister’s Income Support Programme. This effort which is currently on the anvil seeks to improve the livelihood of the vulnerable segments of the society, address mall-nutritious hotspot and generate employment.
The ultimate goal of this government is to enhance agricultural productivity which can bring prosperity, generate employment and make Pakistanan effective player in the regional and global economy in order to promote agricultural exports. We are embarking upon creating a National Animal & Plant Health Regulatory Authority which would ensure agricultural products with the quality assurance commensurate with the international standards.
I request all our development partners, NGOs, civil society organizations and philanthropists to join hands and make concerted efforts for the uplift of the family farming to achieve our collective vision of a world with zero hunger.