The agriculture sector accounts for 20 percent of the gross domestic product and employs nearly 50 percent of the labour force, but its potentials are not fully utilized. Punjab is the biggest province of the country and has lion share in the agricultural economy as well. It produces 83 percent of cotton, 80 percent of wheat, 97 percent of fine aromatic rice, 63 percent of sugarcane and 51 percent of maize to the national food production. Punjab is also a major fruits basket as it gives 66 percent mango production, more than 95 percent citrus fruit, 82 percent guava and 34 percent dates of the country.The agriculture sector is the largest sector of the province and a driving force for growth and development, employing over 65 percent labour force in rural areas.Punjab also has the lion share in the rice exports and produces more than 95 percent of basmati rice. The country’s rice export earning stands at $2 billion. The government concentrates on introducing more varieties of the aromatic rice to increase foreign exchange earnings. However, experts believe that the agriculture produces which are excess to the country’s needs should be exported and the nation should not be deprived of major food products.
There are several other ways to enhance exports which include exports of horticulture products. The rose production of Pakistan can bring a huge foreign exchange if properly managed. The latest trend of Saffron production needs to be encourage as KP and Gilgit-Baltistan have fertile lands suitable for the products. So far, Pakistan earns $650 million by exporting horticulture products which could be increased to billions of dollars. However, the agriculture authorities of the central and provincial governments need to work in tendon to produce not only saffron, but also flowers. According to experts, unless corporate sector takes interest in the agriculture sector, the desired level of progress would be hard to achieve.
After achieving the provincial autonomy, the provinces have failed to prepare themselves to make prudent industrial and agriculture policies. The population of Punjab is more than that of Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Britain, but the volume of its economy is nowhere near those countries. The provinces still look toward the federal government for help and have failed to devise their own economic policies. After the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, agriculture has become a provincial subject, but provinces are still struggling to make their own policies.The country’s share in the global horticulture exports is nearly 0.3 percent and this should be a point to ponder for the policymakers. Unless the provinces learn to live without the help of the central government, the economic situation will not be improved.