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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi said that agriculture which used to be 50 percent of GDP had lost its value and now it was only 23 percent of GDP because of which, unfortunately, it was not attracting the attention of the policymakers as was needed.

“There is need of insurance companies to develop credible, authentic and sustainable products to provide insurance to crops and agricultural products in consultation and coordination with each other which should be user-friendly, easy to execute and reachable for the farmers, especially with landholding less than 12.5 acre,” the president made these remarks while addressing a seminar titled, “Importance of Crop Insurance in the Modern Era”, organised by TPL Insurance in collaboration with a media group, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, on Wednesday.

He said that the large landholding farmers also needed to be insured with greater emphasis on the farmers living at the minimum subsistence level to protect them against crop losses due to manmade and natural calamities and unpredictable weather systems.

The president noted that agriculture which used to be 50 percent of GDP had lost its value and now it was only 23 percent of GDP because of which, unfortunately, it was not attracting the attention of the policymakers as was needed.

He said that agriculture was still the backbone of the economy and it was necessary that this sector should get patronage and support at the public and private levels for ensuring food security for the country which was only possible if the farmers were protected irrespective of their landholding sizes from the adverse impact and damages sustained by them due to man-made and natural calamities.

He said that Pakistan had a very elaborate system of satellite imagery that produces relevant data continuously about various weather patterns but unfortunately it was not been properly analysed to predict weather patterns, and fluctuations in the weather system and to forewarn the farmers against unpredicted rain or other natural calamities.

He emphasised that meaningful steps should be taken to analyse the satellite data and transform its findings productively and effectively at the grassroots level to help the farmers to decide on the nature and timing of the sowing of crops and to safeguard themselves against fluctuations in the weather system.

He observed that besides crop insurance, other insurance products should also be developed for the subsidiary products such as animal husbandry, milk and dairy products, meat poultry, fish farming and vertical farming etc. to provide holistic and well-thought-out and tested insurance products.

He noted that the crop insurance scheme developed by the Punjab government with the help of the World Bank had produced fruitful results to protect the farmers from losses due to climate change or other calamities. This model should be studied and the findings should be translated to the rest of the country, he added.

He called upon the insurance companies to develop such credible products which gain immediate confidence and support from the farmer community and are readily adopted by them. He underscored the need to promote the insurance product on all platforms of media i.e. print, electronic, social, and cellular forms through PTA messaging to communicate the product and benefits associated with them at the grassroots level.

The president observed that, unlike other countries, Pakistan had an excellent system of social insurance where the family members and close relatives come out generously to help other family members who had suffered losses due to different reasons. He called upon the insurance companies to study this outstanding social insurance system and develop products around this concept which, he said, being cost-effective and sustainable would likely be welcomed by the farmer community.

He said the government was also duty bound to help and compensate the losses incurred by the farmers due to the crop losses by providing them financial assistance to help them to reemerge from the difficulties faced by them due to various reasons including climate change. He appreciated that the government, despite financial constraints, had compensated to some extent to the people in the flood-affected areas.

He urged the government to develop policies and plan for optimal utilisation of allocated budget, loans and financial assistance obtained from foreign governments through deliberation and consensus with all the stakeholders as the products developed in isolation without incorporating inputs from the relevant stakeholders, especially the farmers, ended up in futility and wastage of precious national resource. He added that the success of any policy, planning and strategy was gauged from its effectiveness, user-friendliness and its ability to permeate effortlessly to the targeted population.

While addressing the seminar, Federal Insurance Mohtasib Dr Muhammad Khawar Jameel said that Pakistan had faced the worst climate-induced floods which wreaked losses in the agriculture sector also. While highlighting the importance of crop insurance, he said that crop insurance could reduce the financial losses of farmers and agriculturists. He said that such seminars were good for raising awareness about crop insurance.

Former Minister of Agriculture Punjab Syed Hussain Jahania Gardezi said that although the contribution of agriculture to GDP had reduced, despite that we needed to take steps for boosting the sector for food security and for improving the economy of the country. He said that the majority of farmers were living at the subsistence level so crop insurance could be the best way to safeguard their losses in case of natural calamities. He said that by adopting crop insurance, the agriculture sector could enhance its production.

CEO TPL Insurance Muhammad Aminuddin said that agriculture was the core of Pakistan’s GDP and food security. Insurance provides protection to crops and the livelihood of people, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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