Army steps in for uplift of agriculture sector

Army steps in for uplift of agriculture sector


An agreement has been signed in this regard between Pakistan Army and caretaker Punjab government.

ISLAMABAD (Web desk) – Pakistan Army has joined a ‘Corporate Agriculture Farming’ venture with private sector in the Punjab for the uplift of the sector.

An agreement has been signed in this regard between Pakistan Army and caretaker Punjab government under which 45,267 acres of land in three districts — Bhakkar, Khushab, and Sahiwal — will be handed over to the former.

According to a document, the land directorate of the army wrote to the Punjab chief secretary, Board of Revenue and secretaries of the agriculture, forest, livestock and irrigation departments for handing over of 42,724 acres in tehsils Kaloor Kot and Mankera in Bhakkar, 1,818 acres in tehsils Quaidabad and Khushab in Khushab, and 725 acres in tehsil Chichawatni of Sahiwal.

The letter referred to a notification of the Punjab government dated Feb 20, 2023, and a joint venture agreement of March 8. It reminded that “while signing the joint venture management agreement on March 8, it was decided that the state lands required for the project be immediately handed over to Pakistan Army.”

It is learnt that the joint venture has been signed between the military, the Punjab government, and private firms dealing with corporate farming.

It is reported that the Punjab government will provide the land while the army will utilise its resources and retain the management of the project. The private sector, on the other hand, will invest and provide auxiliary support, including the supply of fertilisers.

Military sources, while confirming the development, said that the army was “not taking over the ownership of the land as it will remain the property” of the Punjab government. “The army will provide a coherent administrative structure,” the sources added.

They said that the land is mostly barren, uncultivated, and under-cultivated and added that the army, with the help of the stakeholders, including its joint venture partners and locals, will turn this into fertile land.

The project will be managed by retired officers and the army will not get any pecuniary benefit, rather the profit from the farming will go to the locals, the Punjab government, and firms that will invest in the project.

At least 40 percent of the revenue generated from the cultivation will go to the Punjab government, 20 percent will be spent on research and development in the agriculture sector, while the remaining will be used for the crops and expansion of the project.

They said that the agriculture sector’s growth rate from 4 percent in 1960 dropped to 2.5 percent in 2022 due to various reasons, including ineffective policies coupled with climate change, and population boom.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), at least 27pc of the total cultivated land of Pakistan was not being utilised. In order to deal with this situation, the Punjab government has made a plan to restore the agriculture sector with the help of the Pakistan Army. With the use of modern agricultural methods, machinery, and high-quality seeds, agricultural production will be increased manifold, the sources claimed.

In the first phase of the project, different varieties of pulses, millets and rice will be cultivated. This will be followed by large-scale cultivation of canola and wheat.