Land Information And Management System (LIMS) Is A Key Player For Lifting Pakistan’s Agri-Sector – OpEd


As per the World Bank, Pakistan’s economy is currently under severe stress with low foreign reserves, a depreciating currency, and high inflation. With high public consumption, economic growth increased substantively above potential in FY22 that led to strong pressures on domestic prices, external and fiscal sectors, the exchange rate, and foreign reserves. These imbalances were exacerbated by the catastrophic flooding in 2022, surging world commodity prices, tightening global financing conditions, and domestic political uncertainty. 

Additionally, according to the World Bank’s food security update, issued in January 2023, there has been a significant increase in food inflation in Pakistan. The food inflation rose from 8.3 per cent in October 2021 and 15.3 per cent in March 2022 to 31.7 per cent in September 2022, and then to 35 per cent in December 2022. The only way forward is to cut the food imports considering the struggling economic situation and rely on self-sufficiency through revamping the agriculture sector. It can also help Pakistan to achieve economic stability. Pakistan is an Agriculture-based economy which contributes 23 % to GDP and provides employment to almost 37.4% of its labor force. Unfortunately, despite having enormous potential, we as a nation face recurrent economic hardships. Today, the cumulative impact of our past negligence has made economic revival, a question of survival for Pakistan. 

Looking back in history, Pakistan First Green Revolution was launched in mid-sixties. It enabled a three-fold increase in the output of food grains by introducing new technology and timely application of high yielding varieties (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilizers and irrigation water. Pakistan at that time outperformed South Asian countries wherein wheat production was increased 79% from 3.7 MMT to 6.8 MMT. Thus, converting Pakistan from wheat importer to net exporter, with a positive effect on GDP and ensuring Food security. Comparing today, our productivity is below par average productivity, as area under cultivation decreasing, the population-production gap is increasing and agri related imports are touching the $ 10 Bn mark causing economic stress. According to the world food program 36.9 % of Pakistanis are food insecure and 18.3% of these are facing severe food crisis. Wheat crisis is enhancing with total wheat demand reaching 30.8 MMT. However, currently production is 26.4 MMT, thus a shortfall of almost 4 MM. Cotton production has fallen by 40% from 14.8 m bales to ~5mn bales over the last 10 years. 

Above all challenges in view, there is a dire need to take a promising initiative, aimed at enhancing Modern Agro Farming utilizing over 9 million hectares of uncultivated waste state land. In this regard Land Information and Management System – Center of Excellence has been established under Director General Strategic Projects by Adjutant General Branch, GHQ. This will be a paradigm shift in our approach to land administration and agricultural development. This state-of-the-art System will revolutionize means to steer agricultural development through real time information about land, crops, weather, water resource pest handling under one roof. 

By leveraging the expertise, resources, and technology of various entities coupled with modern irrigation systems, the aim is to revolutionize Pakistan’s agricultural sector horizontally and vertically and ensure food security for the nation. Through real-time data collection, analysis and reporting, the system will have the necessary insights to make informed decisions, identify challenges, and implement timely interventions for improved production. This, in turn, will not only address food security concerns but also enable us to explore export opportunities and contribute to the growth of our economy. Moreover, by granting access to state land for Modern Agro Farming, Pakistan Army in collaboration with the government of Pakistan aims to attract investment, promote innovation and create job opportunities. The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIC) established by the government in this regard will achieve the aim of revival of economy of Pakistan. 

LIMS provides a comprehensive platform that facilitates the collection, organization, and dissemination of land-related data. It enables farmers, government agencies, and other stakeholders to access accurate and up-to-date information on land ownership, soil quality, irrigation facilities, crop patterns, and more. By harnessing this valuable data, LIMS helps farmers make informed decisions about crop selection, land use planning, and resource allocation, leading to improved productivity and profitability in the agricultural sector. It also supports the government in formulating effective policies, implementing land reforms, and addressing land disputes, thereby promoting stability and growth in the agricultural industry.

As a trusted and disciplined institution, the army possesses the necessary infrastructure, expertise, and resources to ensure the smooth functioning of LIMS across the country. The army’s involvement brings credibility and reliability to the system, instilling confidence in both the farmers and the government. They oversee the collection of accurate and verified land data, establish secure databases, and maintain the technological infrastructure required for LIMS operations

Considering the importance to uplift the Agri-sector Govt. of Pakistan provided special incentives for the Agricultural sector. Pakistan has vast agricultural land with 11th largest area under cultivation. The total land is 79.6 million Hectors out of which the cultivated land is 24.1 million Hectors, while the cultivable wasteland is 9.1 million Hectors. To meet the challenges of emerging food insecurity and rising import bill in Agri-sector, a major policy shift is required. Various agri-initiatives announced in the budget 2023-24 are praise worthy. Some of these include:

Kisan Package worth Rs. 1800 to 2250 Bn, agro Based Industry Exemption of 800 Mn – 5 Yrs Tax, solarization of 50,000 TWs – Rs. 30 Bn Allocated, water Conservation & Management – Rs. 10 Bn Allocated, subsidized Fertilizer – Rs. 6 Bn Allocated, hybrid Seeds Import Facilitation – Custom & Sale Tax Exemption, agriculture Related Imports – Custom & Sales Tax Exemption, incentivize Renewable Energy Use – Custom & Sales Tax Exemption

LIMS being a driving mechanism would play a crucial role in maximizing the incentives provided by the government in recent budget. It is keen to contribute significantly in Agriculture sector and has recently initiated Modern Agri Farming projects, starting from Punjab. In coordination with all provinces so far total land identified is almost 4.4 Mn acres. 

Ensuring food security through large scale farming including Livestock, Research & Development in Seeds, Fertilizers and Artificial Intelligence-based solutions through Public / Private Partnership and collaboration with foreign and domestic partners.

Large scale farming through value addition and utilizing techniques by encompassing innovative practices and technology to improve effectiveness, productivity and sustainability. Modern farming techniques including precision farming, biotechnology (genetic engineering, seed coating and seed inoculation), irrigation management, pest management, agro-forestry and aquaculture Increase production yield, reduce input cost, minimize environmental impact and Research & Development.

Moreover, when it comes to the usage of seed, there is a need to pay heed towards hybrid technology as world is using 80 % hybrid seed while Pakistan is currently using only 8% of hybrid seed. Pakistan seed requirement is 1.77 Mn tons, whereas seed aval is only 0.77 Mn tons. Sponsored by the country’s leading business groups for developing commercially scalable models for growth, PAC organized a conference on March 16 aimed at connecting the agriculture sector to industry, finance and the government. Speaking at the conference, Pakistan Agricultural Coalition (PAC) Strategy Adviser Kazim Saeed said “the investment in the agriculture sector should purely be on a commercial basis.” ““Pakistan is losing $1 billion annually in three major crops alone because we use poor-quality seeds and outdated methods,” he added. Efforts are in hand to use certified hybrid seeds with concurrent development of seed involving JVs with Multi-National companies, which can pay rich dividends.

Efforts are being made at highest forum to expedite strategic irrigation projects including Thar, Thal and Kachi canals. Construction of Check Dams for flash floods and new canals for flood control will be on priority. Moreover, adoption of high efficiency irrigation techniques (modular drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, pivot irrigation and sub surface irrigation, etc) will be incorporated.

Collaborations are being made with KSA, China, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain for various Agri Projects, which will certainly enhance our exports. Finland is working for seed, forestry and bio-diversity. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on June 3, 2023 invited Turkish investors and businessmen to expand their investment in various areas of Pakistan. He called for establishing strategic collaboration in sectors of energy, agriculture, information technology (IT), and construction. 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has also assured Pakistan that it will continue to play a leading role in transforming the country’s agriculture food systems to make them more efficient, inclusive, sustainable and resilient. Efforts are being made to attract medium scale farmers towards mechanization in agriculture. The aim is to revitalize Agri-sector up to the level where Pakistan not only becomes self-sufficient for its food requirements but also increase exports to strengthen the national economy.

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