Thursday, August 18, 2022

Real Estate Developers are Devouring the Fertile Land of Pakistan

Concrete Terrorism Nobody Paying Attention Towards

We are an agriculture-based country and our country’s majority population lives in villages. Majority of the people living in Pakistan are uneducated people and are unable to get a job that will earn them a decent living to support their families. By not being able to utilize this large human capital workforce to work in an agriculture sector we are unable to further substantially increase our agriculture-based income and help our economy grow with a positive impact on our GDP growth rate.

A large labor force belonging to rural areas have to leave their native villages looking for a job, as it’s the only option available to them to earn their livelihood. The villager’s move to nearby towns and cities close to them in search of jobs. All metro cities of Punjab, like Lahore, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Jhelum, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, etc. are able to accommodate such large workforce but mostly people who came to earn and do job mostly work in factories as helpers, home servants, janitorial staff, gatekeepers, security guards, drivers, office runner, or some time do basic labor jobs based on daily wages. Due to lacking any special skills they are unable to progress or take advantage of their inherent skill they have an ability to work under harsh conditions and weather. But in absence of proper infrastructure and opportunities in the agriculture sector they cannot work in any Agri based industrial sector.

A large population that works in cities belonging to villages also grow major food crops that are limited to their own needs like wheat, rice, maize, barley and grams but it’s not for the commercial intent but only for consumption purpose and to meet local demand created by population at large. It’s also stored with them for consumption throughout the year as it’s not possible for them to afford due to large family size, low income and high market price of grain. Beside growing a major food crop for their own personal needs, they also keep livestock that they consume on a daily basis like eggs, meat, milk, ghee and yogurt.



The reason for this is that the workforce, not able to look further and invest in commercial farming and reinvest in acquiring more land and do not want to re-invest in cattle farming due to lack of funds. The real reason is the lack of agriculture-based infrastructure, water availability at economical rates, non-availability of interest free easy loans for each farmer no matter how small land he owns, no subsidy on seeds, fertilizer, insecticides to the small farmers with easy financing terms to buy machinery and equipment are among some of the reasons the farmers are unable to invest in commercial farming.

The cash crop that includes cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, oil seeds and many fruits are among the few other options that could be sold in the market at a larger profit margin if farmers who are among the owners of fertile land have water available at economical rates with a road network for transportation and can get higher rate of return for their investment made to contribute towards export income and if government makes policy promoting this sector and flourish, we can increase our agriculture base revenue through exports.

If the government can provide opportunities for commercial farming with proper training mobile workshops to reach each farmer, provide interest free easy loans and all internal needs are met by policy shifting towards the agriculture sector rather than focusing on other industrial sectors that remain noncompetitive in the international market.

These exports will be a source of foreign exchange revenue earnings for the country and it also minimizes trade deficit. But we can generate export income only by exporting the best quality food crop all over the world. But unfortunately, another reason for not being able to invest in commercial farming and many farmers are no longer working as full-time professional farmers is because the land mafia and real estate developers are able to acquire the agriculture land close to cities spreading 20-25km with a devastating speed. They have billions to expend on the acquisition of fertile land by offering lucrative profits for the actual value of the land and the farmer does not see his land as an opportunity to grow his Agri based business but it’s getting even harder every passing year. All previous governments were unable to curtail or shift the focus or sometimes were part of the cartel, they did not have the will to stop it or had an intention to do so either they were asleep or incompetent. The land owners were not left with any other option; the best opportunity available was to sell the land at a high price and invest that money elsewhere. The landlords became real estate property agents and most of their land was sold to real estate developers. This is the reason the people who were attached with the agriculture sector have sold-out most of their agricultural land and had invested in real estate projects.

All the demand in all metro cities for vegetable consumption was met by locally produced vegetables in villages close to the cities, ample vegetables were available in the market at very low-price point and all the local demand was met by the local farmer with minimum transport expense and freshness of the vegetables was also exceptional. By every passing by year the local farmers who were working in the fields have sold-out the fertile land and as a result all the vegetables demand is met by other farmers living in faraway places and furthermore large volume is also imported from India and China to meet the demand at a much higher price point and below average quality. This is unfortunate but by moving away from organic farming and shifting towards chemical farming health problems are also increasing.

It’s getting harder for farmers to earn their living solely based on investing in agriculture related commercial activity and also because the per hectare yield of any crop that we grow in Pakistan is far less than international yield standards of the same crop.

Pakistan’s average yield of sugarcane, maize, rice, cotton and wheat is 82%, 61%, 53%, 70% and 60% less than the average yields obtained internationally. We must offer incentives to farmers based on targets achieved then we can surely increase our exports of wheat, rice, maize, barley, cotton and most of the fruits except few to all over the world.

The land mafias looking at the worse situation of agriculture sector and because rate of return on the invested amount is minimal and it had declined over the period of time since  last decade the real estate project builders have started exploiting the situation and had invested for their own interest and because there is no laid down policy by government to stop acquisition of fertile the fertile land to save the workforce attached to the agriculture field, hundreds and thousands of acres of fertile land is now owned by societies and real estate builders. It creates a challenging situation for local farmers who are dependent on landlords and once the landlord makes a deal and sells his land the people who are associated with this profession and work for him forcefully have to change their profession and leave the agriculture field.

The current government has laid down a road map and policy shift that will drive investment in the agriculture sector and already the people belonging to the agriculture sector are claiming to have earned profits more than they have ever earned in the past. The government has made a consistent policy for the growth of the agriculture sector and they have also increased the budget substantially. New reforms are in place to increase per hectare yield. The government has made substantial improvements in agricultural research with the emergence of the latest agriculture-based technologies and by enhancing the quality of seed to increase production.

The govt wants to exploit this human resource factor living in the villages close to urban population who had left farming as a full-time profession only because commercial farming opportunities were not available to them before and once again bringing agriculture sector in the streamline means a large population will be going back to agriculture-based earnings.

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Category: Lifestyle, Socio Political

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