Army, Punjab set to initiate corporate agri farming
The army and Punjab government are starting a corporate agriculture farming project in the shape of a Joint Venture to enhance the crop yield in order to ensure food autarky.
“The army will play a role at the management level to make the project a success story. However, the ownership of the land will continue to stay with the provincial government. The military will not get any profit or share in the revenue to be mopped from corporate agriculture farming,” sources in the armed forces told The News.
“Corporate agriculture farming will be initiated on 45,267 acres of the Government of Punjab in Bhakkar, Khushab and Sahiwal districts. The project will be completed in phases.”
The army plays a role every year, they said, in the desilting of canals to ensure water availability to agricultural land in order to ensure food security. “The army in the past also remained a part of projects of national importance such as building the Karakoram Highway. It has now decided to play its role in increasing the agriculture yield, as this is the lowest-hanging fruit which can play a pivotal role in jacking up the economic outlook of the country. The army will facilitate the project and nothing else. So the criticism in the social media is uncalled for.”
According to sources, corporate companies would also be included in this project, which will be completed in phases. Under the project, state lands of the Punjab government which are barren and under-cultivated will be utilized for corporate farming. The locals would be made part of the project for modern and mechanized farming.
“The produce will not only be utilized to cater to the food needs of the country but also be used in improving the foreign exchange reserves by exporting the agriculture products.”
The project is quite challenging, as provision of water to make the land cultivable will be a gigantic task. The Joint venture management agreement was signed on March 8, 2023, with the Punjab government.
“Under the agreement, the Punjab government will hand over its state lands of 45,267 acres to the army for corporate agriculture farming,” discloses an official correspondence that took place on March 10, 2023, between the army and Member (Colonies) Board of Review of Punjab.
And to this effect, the Board of Revenue has been asked to hand over by March 17, 2023, 10,273 acres of the Livestock department, Mouza Rakh Ghuman, Tehsil Kalloor Kot, district Bhakkar, by March 23, 27 acres of land of the Forest department, Muaza Gohar Wala, Tehsil Kalloor, Bhakkar, by March 15, 9,424 acres of land of Livestock department, Rakh Mahni, Tehsil Mankera, Bhakkar. The Revenue Board of Punjab has been asked to provide by March 17, 981 acres of the livestock department, Chak 61 MB, tehsil and district Khushab, and by 18 March 837 acres of land of the Agriculture Department, Chak 5 MB, tehsil Quaidabad, district Khushab.
The Revenue Board has also been asked to hand over 725 acres of land of the provincial government, Chak 12/11 L, Tehsil Chichawatni, district Sahiwal. The departments are allowed to keep portions as per their requirements for research needs. However, research proposals will be shared for better management.
Pakistan’s geographical area is 196.7 million acres (MA), of which 72.7 million acres are suitable for agriculture, of which 52.4 million acres of land is a cultivated area (irrigated and barani). The area under irrigation is 48.2 million acres.
This shows that 20.3 million acres of land is still needed to be irrigated.
Sindh has 3.5 million acres of land, which can be brought under cultivation, Punjab has 3.9 million acres, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) 3.1 million acres and Balochistan has 9.8 million acres which, if irrigated, would produce a green revolution.