Reviving Agriculture and Tourism

Malakand, now

Plans and projects still need to be worked out to address many issues facing the division

By Tahir Ali

(The News, 23-01-2011)

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/jan2011-weekly/nos-23-01-2011/pol1.htm#5

Despite federal and provincial governments and international community’s efforts to revive agriculture and tourism in Malakand Division, some problems are impeding the process.

Soon after the return of displaced persons to the region in 2009, the Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Settlement Authority (PaRRSA) began planning for early recovery and was about to start reconstruction efforts in the militancy-hit area but unprecedented floods interrupted the process.

“The finances and other resources had to be diverted to flood-affected areas across the country. This diverted the attention and resources of both the government and the international community from conflict-hit areas to start relief work for flood affectees,” says Adnan Khan, spokesman of PaRRSA.

But that was not the only problem. Locals think that lack of coordination between stakeholders, security and communication problems, lack of funds, provision of substandard farm inputs, negligence of remote areas in Swat in the distribution of free agricultural inputs and flawed distribution of hotel compensation money also slowed the process.

Various local and international non-governmental organisations are giving cash and technical support to farmers in the region but for absence of necessary coordination with farmer’s bodies and government departments, free farm-inputs and livestock in the militancy/flood-hit are being consumed by undeserving people.

President of model farm services centre Swat, Muhammad Naeem, appreciates the role of NGOs, “They are providing seeds, urea, DAP and agriculture tools and livestock to farmers. But in some cases commodities are being given to those who are neither farmers nor tenants. The agriculture and revenue department, the MFSC and the farmers’ association should be there in the apportionment and supply process of these inputs,” he says.

“The problem is that working of NGOs and government officials is restricted to the suburbs of Mingora and the far-flung areas like Kabal and Matta are not getting due support,” he adds.

Bakht Biland Khan, general secretary of Kissan Board Swat, says village organisations (VOs) might have been formed and given inputs by NGOs. “I cannot confirm or deny whether any inputs, support and training have been given to VOs in other areas but the VO in my village Dagaia, Kabal has received nothing for the last few months. Also, most VOs were already functioning in villages. VOs comprising of genuine farmers need to be formed,” he says.

Other insurgency-hit districts in Malakand division: Dir, Buner, Shangla, etc, also seem to have received scarce attention, resources and projects.

As per the Damaged Need Assessment (DNA), the agriculture, including the livestock and horticulture sectors suffered losses of Rs57.4bn, mostly in the Malakand division. The post-flood damages in agriculture and horticulture stand at Rs4.5bn. The forest sector lost Rs20bn, bulk of it in Malakand. The losses to Swat’s tourism industry stand at Rs731mn in infrastructure and of Rs2.29bn in revenue, according to the USAID.

To a question as to what PaRRSA has done to revive agriculture, livestock and tourism and what precisely are its achievements thus far, Adnan Khan says PaRRSA has done its due, “An Italy-funded Rs800mn Early Recovery of Agriculture and Livelihood Programme (ERALP) is being implemented by PaRRSA in agriculture. It will support 80,000 households and 638,000 beneficiaries in various subsectors of agriculture. 33 percent funds of another $21mn foreign funded project is being spent in the area under which immediate support is being provided in the form of provision of seed, fertilizer, animal feed and rehabilitation of water channels,” he says, adding, “Besides, PaRRSA is also implementing some other USAID-funded economic growth projects in Malakand division”.

“Another 8,800 households are benefitting from the cash for work activities under ERALP. Support to 22 Trout Fish Farms is being provided with a USAID project of $1.2mn. Under the Livelihood recovery program of $1.8mn, 7200 families have received micro-grants to increase their incomes in both the farm and non-farm sectors,” the official adds.

Besides, approval of the following projects is still pending with USAID. As for coordination and support from the federal government, international donors and non-governmental organisations, Khan says “the federal government and international donor community has taken keen interest in addressing needs of the individuals in almost all the sectors, however, the magnanimity of the damages still calls for more support. The international community had made several pledges for different sectors in the area but most are yet to be fulfilled,” he informs.

There have been no commitments from the international community for irrigation, livestock, forestry, energy and in mines and mineral sectors. In the agriculture sector, only Rs0.8bn have been provided as against the need of Rs2.2bn for post militancy reconstruction projects.

According to Khan, out of the total $4.3mn USAID-funded project for tourism, $0.56mn has been disbursed so far among 265 Swat hotels. Zahid Khan, President All Swat Hotels Association, believes the programme in its present shape might not serve its purpose. He criticises the survey and categorisation of hotels and says it has led to local rivalries.

“Most of the money is allegedly being consumed in security, transportation, remuneration and other expenses of project staff with little money being left for the affected hoteliers,” he claims.

Media advisor of USAID, Shahzad Badar, says categorisation has been made under relevant laws and there was no question of nepotism at the time of gradation of hotels. Though he agrees that the survey might be reviewed if there were still genuine reservations on rating of hotels but fails to reply how much of the money is required to be consumed by the project’s staff and how much will be left to the hotels.

The destroyed or deserted government hotels and motels, like the Malam Jabba PTDC hotel, should not have been left out of the project. Also, hotels seem to have been categorised on the basis of the number of their rooms and status of the building and not on the basis of the losses suffered by each one of them due to militancy and floods. Malakand accounts for 34 percent of plums, 95 percent of walnuts and 82 percent of provincial apple yield. It also accounts for 32, 22, 64 and over 50 percent of the provincial production of maize, wheat, rice and vegetables and fruit respectively.

Development and rehabilitation of agriculture and tourism is important as around 80 percent of the people are dependent on the sectors, directly or indirectly.

Pakistan has received billions of dollars in Coalition Support Fund. The province, being the hardest-hit, deserves most of the funds but under the enhanced partnership agreement, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is to get only 11 percent ($124.3 million off the $1.442 billion funds this year).

“Donors are attaching two more conditions and asking for unnecessary explanations which will certainly cause operational delays. They also want too many things done with meagre funds. Instead of spending on small schemes, funds should be spent on major projects,” says an official who does not want to be identified.

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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

3 Responses to Reviving Agriculture and Tourism

  1. sania sajid says:

    i really appreciate your work you are doing a good job by sharing your information to every one. i really admire your work. actually i am doing m.phil and my research topic is “impact of institutional credit on agriculture production in kpk” but i cant find any relevant and appropriate information would you please help me out.
    Thanking you
    sania

    Like

    • thanks for your kind words. please search the agriculture section of my blog for information you need. I remember I had written on the topic last year and the preceding year. wishing you success and happiness in life

      Like

  2. sir I need the data regarding tourism

    Like

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