KP misplaced priorities

KP’s missplaced priorities
By Tahir Ali
18th June, 2012
http://dawn.com/2012/06/18/kps-missplaced-priorities/

THE share of agriculture in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa’s annual development plan has declined in the budget 2012-13 as compared to the current fiscal year.

Farmers lament that misplaced development priorities of the provincial government has eclipsed their hope of getting a better deal from the provincial government after the fiscal devolution.

As in the past, the agriculture sector remains neglected, says Haji Niamat Shah, central vice-president, Anjuman-i-Kashtkaran, KP. The provincial government hasn’t provided any subsidy on agriculture inputs including loans unlike Punjab which has taken several pro-farmer decisions in its budget.

Worse still, the government has cut the development budget of the sector this year while it should have increased it at least by five per cent of ADP after its huge revenue receipts from the federal divisible pool, said Mr Shah.

The livestock and dairy development department, farm mechanisation, on-farm water management and soil conservation are the biggest beneficiaries of the budget 2013 both in terms of retaining most of their projects and getting hefty allocations. The agriculture extension and research have suffered on both these counts.

According to an official, the new ADP has been prepared in the light of KP’s agriculture policy 2005, horticulture policy 2009, comprehensive development strategy (CDS) and economic growth strategy (EGS).

The allocations in the budget are: agriculture extension 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 Rs68mn and fisheries Rs67mn.

In the Rs303bn budget, development spending is Rs97.4 up from Rs85bn of the outgoing year with the core provincial ADP at Rs74.2bn. But the share of agriculture in total ADP has decreased from 1.6 per cent in the current ADP to 1.48 per cent in the next one.

The farm sector got only Rs17mn or 0.1 per cent in the total foreign component of Rs23.2bn in the provincial ADP. The share of livestock in agriculture ADP has decreased to Rs0.379bn (26 per cent) this year from Rs0.60bn (44 per cent) in the current year, reducing its share in the total ADP from 0.70 to 0.38 per cent.

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

Most of the funds are, however, directed to the revenue (salary, office items etc) 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 were provided Rs25mn and Rs81mn in the outgoing ADP respectively, they have Rs43mn and Rs88mn for civil work in the next ADP.

The 2012-13 ADP focuses on ongoing programmes; the ratio of allocations for ongoing projects and new projects have changed to 70 per cent and 30 per cent respectively from 63 and 37 per cent this year.

Rather than thinly distributing money over several schemes, allocation has been made to fewer schemes. For example, against 37 schemes of agriculture research this fiscal, Rs155mn have been distributed among six schemes in the new ADP. Similarly, against nine schemes in the livestock research this year, there are only four schemes in the next ADP.

But for overall scarcity of funds, the sector has been deprived of several schemes. The project left out include strengthening of model farm services, construction of research station in Buner, block plantation of selected fruit in hills of Hazara and Malaland, rice research, wasteland development and its distribution to landless farmers and agriculture graduates, strengthening of research stations in Mansehra and Peshawar, capacity building of livestock extension staff and introduction of modern milking and processing techniques in southern KP.

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

An official, however, said the ADP had focused on potential sectors for increased productivity and value addition.

“KP has vast edible potential especially in olive oil. We plan to introduce European olive varieties and plant more olive gardens on wastelands. Hopefully the province would produce large quantities of edible oil once these initiatives are implemented,” he said.

“There are also five fisheries projects worth Rs181mn. Model fish farms would be established in Peshawar, Nowshera and Mardan. The flood- devastated trout hatcheries will be rehabilitated and their production capacity enhanced in Swat, Chitral, Dir and Shangla. Also there is a pilot project for conservation of fish resources in Lower Dir,” he added.

“We will also construct check dams in rain-fed areas for water harvesting. Each of these will not only irrigate around 100 acres but also prevent soil erosion and increase fish farming. Another important project based on fermenting technology will use animal wastes for making organic fertiliser,” the official added.

“Besides, watercourses would be lined and improved to reduce water losses. High efficiency irrigation-sprinkle and drip irrigation technologies are to be installed on 2,000 acres to bring barren land under cultivation. Fruit orchards would be set up on 1000 acres to rehabilitate flood-devastated lands. Veterinary dispensaries would be set up to treat about 1.5mn animals.

There would also be projects for livelihood improvement of rural women through livestock farming and conservation of native livestock breeds,” he said.

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

There was no scheme for easy loan to small farmers but talks continued with the ZTBL and SBP to offer credit schemes where principle amount would be paid by farmers and interest by the government, he said.

The government intends to give grant of Rs500mn to model farm services centres for purchasing modern agriculture machinery and agriculture inputs.

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

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