Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Thursday said challenged and unconcern for the most important agriculture sector is on the increase.

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Protest of PTI lawmakers over meager allocation of Rs 12 billion for the agriculture sector should act as a wakeup call as funds earmarked for the purpose is an insult to the agriculture and farming communities, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said the country is spending forty percent of its export proceeds on the import of agriculture products and it will have to spend more if indifference continued.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that agriculture plays a central role in economic development, food security, employment, poverty reduction, industrial production, and exports but it has been put on the back burner.
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Pakistan cannot afford to ignore a sector having a 19.2 percent share in the GDP, 38.5 percent in employment once called the backbone of the economy.

This sector is suffering from apathy, low investment, climate change, water shortages, lack of affordable loans, substandard seed, and pesticides, modernization, wastage of produce, migration, and lack of research and development which has made Pakistan a net food importer, he observed.

The business leader said that decisions for this sector are always contrary to the ground realities as the interest of the farmer is always overlooked resulting in wastage of funds.

A major chunk of the subsidy goes in the pockets of landlords, middlemen, investors, fertilizer sector while the planter is left high and dry, he said, adding that time has come to reverse the situation by offering incentives to the private sector.
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The interest of farmers should be at the heart of every federal and provincial policy otherwise the share of agriculture in GDP will continue to shrink creating serious problems, he warned.

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