Agriculture neglected in KP budget

KP budget2012-13
An unfair share
The share of agriculture in total ADP of KP has, in fact, decreased from1.6 per cent in the former ADP to 1.48 per cent in the current one
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/jun2012-weekly/nos-24-06-2012/pol1.htm#2

Agriculture sector, the main source of living for over 70 per cent of the people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has yet again been neglected as meagre funds have been allocated in the next annual development programme.

In the Rs303bn budget, total ADP is Rs97.4bn, up from Rs85bn in the outgoing year, with the core provincial ADP standing at Rs74.2bn.

While apparently the allocation to the sector has been increased from Rs1355 in current ADP to Rs1452mn in the next one, the share of agriculture in total ADP has in fact decreased from1.6 per cent in the former ADP to 1.48 per cent in the current one.

The agriculture sector has only got Rs17mn or 0.1 per cent in the total foreign component of Rs23.2bn in the ADP against the share of 42 per cent for education.

The share of livestock in the agriculture ADP has also decreased to Rs0.379bn (26 per cent) this year from Rs0.60bn (44 per cent) in the current year, reducing its share in total ADP from 0.70 per cent this fiscal to 0.38 per cent in the next ADP.

Only Rs1197mn of total agriculture ADP of Rs1355mn could be utilized this fiscal. Viewed in this backdrop, the actual agriculture ADP may be much less than allocations.

Most of the funds are, however, directed to the revenue expenditure with only a portion going to the capital (civil works/construction) side. However, allocation for capital expenditure has increased on some projects. For example, while agriculture and livestock extension had earmarked Rs25mn and Rs81mn in this head in the outgoing ADP respectively, they have Rs43mn and Rs88mn for civil work in the next ADP.

The government intends to give grant of Rs500mn to the model farm services centres for purchasing modern agriculture machinery and agriculture inputs but it is too less an amount to have an impact.

Again, the establishment of poultry diseases investigation and vaccination facility in VRI Peshawar has been conditioned with free donation of land which seems improbable there for high land prices.

According to an official, who didn’t want to be named, the new ADP has been prepared in the light of KP’s agriculture policy 2005, horticulture policy 2009, the comprehensive development strategy (CDS) and the economic growth strategy (EGS) prepared by KP government.

The EGS says productive sectors (energy, minerals etc) and socio-economic sectors food, agriculture etc) would be the top priority in allocation and the expenditure on social sectors would be capped at current level but allocations to the sectors speak otherwise.

Against the avowed 70 per cent, 30 per cent and 20 per cent share for the sectors respectively in the ADP, while the 9 productive and 7 socio-economic sectors have been allocated just 12 per cent (Rs11.6bn) and 23 per cent (Rs22.6bn) respectively in the ADP, the social sectors have got 39 per cent (Rs37.9bn).

Agriculture extension with schemes of Rs61mn, agriculture mechanisation Rs372mn, on farm water management Rs188mn, agriculture research Rs155mn, livestock extension Rs223mn, agriculture planning Rs8mn, livestock research Rs89mn, soil conservation Rs91mn, veterinary research institutes with Rs68mn and Fisheries with Rs67mn make up the agriculture the ADP for 2012-13.

The 2012-13 ADP focuses on ongoing programmes and in line with the EGS recommendations, allocations for the ongoing projects and new projects have been increased to 70 per cent and 30 per cent of the agriculture ADP respectively from 63 and 37 per cent this year.

Rather than thinly distributing money over several schemes as earlier, allocation has been made to fewer schemes as per the EGS. For example, against 37 schemes of agriculture research this fiscal, Rs155mn are distributed in 6 schemes in new ADP. Similarly against 9 schemes in the livestock research this year, there are only 4 schemes in the next ADP.

Livestock and diary development department, farm mechanisation, on-farm water management and soil conservation have been the biggest beneficiaries of the decision both in terms of retaining most of their projects and getting hefty allocations. The agriculture extension and research have suffered on both there counts.

But for overall lesser funds, several schemes from the current year’s ADP have been dropped, apparently for shortage of funds. For example, the project for integrated pest management and strengthening of model farm services, construction of research station in Buner, block plantation of selected fruit in the hills of Hazara and Malakand, rice research in KP and the much trumpeted wasteland development and its distribution to landless farmers and agriculture graduates, strengthening of research stations in Mansehra and Peshawar and of outreach activities in KP, capacity building of livestock extension staff, and processing techniques in Southern KP and on development of improved poultry production projects have been left out.

Projects for backyard farming and livestock rearing, value addition of fruits and vegetables and project on micro-propagation/tissue culture have been neglected.

Farmers say the agriculture sector has been neglected. Haji Niamat Shah, a farmer leader in KP, lamented that the negligence continued even in the post devolution scenario.

“The government hasn’t provided any subsidy on agriculture inputs nor announced any subsidized loans. Worse, the KP government has decreased development budget for the sector this year while it should have increased it to at least five per cent of ADP after its manifold revenue receipts from the federal government. The sector is threatened by the indifference of the government and lack of unity amongst farmers,” he said.

Murad Ali Khan, another farmer from Charsadda, complained almost all of the lands destroyed by the 2010 floods were yet to be rehabilitated though the government promised each year to do so. “It should have allocated sufficient funds to buy land levelling machinery for the purpose. Lack of coordination between the farmers and government and inter-departmental liaison also goes unnoticed,” he said.

The official, however, said the ADP focuses on potential sectors for increased productivity and value addition.

“KP has vast edible potential especially in olive oil. We will introduce European olive varieties and plant more olive gardens on the waste lands,” he informed.

“There are also 5 projects worth Rs181mn in the fisheries. Through a project, model fish farms would be established in Peshawar, Nowshera and Mardan. Through another project, the floods devastated trout hatcheries will be rehabilitated and their production capacity will be expanded in Swat, Chitral, Dir and Shangla. Also there is a project for conservation of fish resources in Lower Dir on pilot basis,” he added.

“We also would construct check dams in rain-fed areas for water harvesting. Each of these will not only irrigate around 100 acres of land and will contain soil erosion but these will be used for fish production. Another important intervention is the project on fermenting technology in which the animal wastes dumps of farmers will be used for making organic fertilizer. We also have milk, meat and poultry related projects,” the official noted.

High efficiency sprinkle and drip irrigation technologies are to be installed on 2,000 acre land and water courses would be lines. Dug-wells be established, 25 bulldozers will be bought and fruit orchards would be established on1000 acres to rehabilitate floods devastated lands. Thousands of farmers would be trained under a project for food security. Animal health dispensaries would be established. There would also be projects for livelihood improvement of rural women through livestock intervention.

“Public private partnership on 80:20 percent cost sharing for government and farmers is being followed in watercourses’ lining, construction of water storage tanks and in maize hybrid seeds production,” said the official.

According to him, there was no scheme for easy loan to small farmers but talks continued with the ZTBL and SBP to offer credit schemes where principal amount will be paid by farmers and interest by the government. ­

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

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