Policy Workshop on Issues of Pakistani Agriculture

Scholars from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, begin their exchange at UC Davis with a two-day policy workshop.

David Spielman of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) presents to Pakistan's policy scholars and UC Davis faculty on Feb. 27th.
David Spielman of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) presents to Pakistan's policy scholars and UC Davis faculty on Feb. 27th.

David Spielman of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) presents to Pakistan's policy scholars and UC Davis faculty on Feb. 27th.

David Spielman of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) presents to Pakistan's policy scholars and UC Davis faculty on Feb. 27th.

A workshop on constraints and opportunities regarding Pakistan agriculture policy, and policies in Punjab in particular, were discussed by experts from IFPRI, UC Davis and University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) on February 27 in Davis, CA. Dr. James Hill, Director of US-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security (USPCAS-AFS) presented a brief overview of the project and purpose of the policy workshop. He mentioned that UAF, as the leader among the agriculture universities of Pakistan, wants to build/improve agriculture policy of the Punjab province and the country. He also thanked David Spielman of IFPRI and UC Davis professors for sparing their time to join the policy discussions.

Travis Lybbert, Professor from UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics, introduced David Spielman who presented his research on “Agriculture and the rural economy in Pakistan: issues, outlooks and policy priorities”. He talked about the historic trends in rural economy and declining share of agriculture in Pakistan’s GDP. He pointed out that the share of agriculture in Pakistan’s GDP has been declining for the past several decades but the decline was much higher in last decade compared to the historic trend. He pointed out the challenges faced to the rural economy and explained the government efforts to reduce poverty. However, the question arises: can agriculture still contribute to poverty reduction? He also mentioned that despite the availability of decent infrastructure and rapid growth of medium to large urban areas, crop diversification has not happened and the consumption patterns has not changed in the adjoining rural areas.

Four recently-arrived policy scholars from UAF talked about their work on the assigned policy areas. Mr. Abdul Ghafoor talked about agricultural inputs, marketing and food security in Pakistan. He provided background information and highlighted challenges, with particular attention to agriculture inputs for attaining agriculture productivity. His research while at UC Davis will be identifying agricultural input-relevant policy options affecting productivity and food security in Pakistan. He also shared his preliminary findings on the basis of data collected from Pakistan and next steps that he will be working on to complete the policy proposal recommendations.

Dr. Azhar Abbas talked about the international competitiveness of cotton production in Pakistan. He talked about the declining cotton production in the country that resulted in increase of raw cotton imports from 0.98 million bales in 2014 to 2.5 million bales in 2015-16. He explained his objectives at UC Davis are to investigate the recent trend of prices and production of cotton in Pakistan in an international context and then he would like to suggest policy guidelines for the production and export of cotton on sustainable basis in Pakistan.

Dr. Tahira Sadaf talked about the “trade liberalization and wheat crop of Pakistan’. Dr. Sadaf identified some of the problem areas in the current wheat price policy: current wheat procurement mechanisms, wheat support pricing system and protective policies and interventions that lead to problems in Pakistan’s wheat trade and production. The influence of developed countries subsidies on their domestic production and effects on wheat trade and production by developing countries were also discussed. She highlighted her plan of work and targets of the policy document that she will be drafting with Dr. Colin Carter while at UC Davis.

Dr. M. Uzair Qamar described the irrigation system of Punjab and current irrigation pricing system in place. Using various modelling approaches he determined the operation and maintenance (O & M) costs of the irrigation system in Punjab. Based on the collected data and current analysis, he came up with various recommendations to recover O&M costs, starting with large farmers. He will be working very closely with Dr. Jay Lund in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to complete the irrigation pricing analysis and develop policy recommendations.

The last presentation was by Dr. Arman Rezaee, Department of Economics, UC Davis. Dr. Rezaee has been working for several years on issues related to Pakistani agriculture and economic development, with particular reference to monitoring service deliveries in various sectors. He talked about opportunities and challenges for the use of information communication technologies (ICT) in Pakistan and presented some practical examples and the outcome of some schemes currently in use. He described the use of ICT to identify and rate veterinarians for the use of artificial insemination (AI) in cattle reproduction in Punjab.

On February 28, David Spielman presented his work on issues related to the cotton production in Pakistan with specific reference to the intellectual policy disputes on Bt cotton and a dramatic decline of cotton production in 2015. He analyzed the effects of rain fall, fertilizer pricing, seed availability, cotton leaf curl virus disease, various bollworm diseases and international cotton pricing and tried to find any relationship with the sudden decline in cotton production in year 2015.The presentation was attended by the policy scholars, faculty from ARE, and USPCAS staff and exchange scholars.

The U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies (USPCAS) is educating and training the next generation of scientists, engineers, and policy makers through innovative academic programs crucial for Pakistan’s development in agriculture and food security. Through applied research, academia-industry collaboration, and policy formation, USPCAS enhances Pakistan’s economic growth and prosperity. USPCAS was made possible by support from the American people through United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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Profile written by M. Javed Iqbal.