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Hilal English

SIFC, From Vision to Reality (Part II) A New Dawn in Pakistan's Agriculture

March 2024

Launched in 2023, Pakistan's LIMS initiative is revolutionizing agriculture through modern techniques, attracting investments, and addressing key challenges. Achievements include converting barren land, adopting digital platforms, and revitalizing canals, promising a green revolution and economic sustainability.

The Land Information and Management System (LIMS), under the umbrella of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), is an extraordinary project undertaken by the Government of Pakistan with the support of the Pakistan Army. Its aim is to propel modern agriculture and bring about a revolution in the country's agricultural sector. The establishment of LIMS marks a significant milestone as the first comprehensive government initiative dedicated to developing the agricultural sector in Pakistan's history.
The primary goal of LIMS is to decrease reliance on imported agricultural products, boost exports, and ensure an ample food supply to meet the needs of the growing population. Agriculture is crucial to Pakistan's economy, contributing about 24 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing employment for around 42 percent of the workforce.
Agriculture in Pakistan faces serious hurdles. Outdated farming methods, insufficient irrigation, and a lack of access to modern technology and resources hinder progress. This situation has led to a decrease in agricultural productivity, forcing the country to rely more on imports to meet the increasing demand for food. Issues such as declining productivity, a widening gap between population growth and agricultural output, and a hefty import bill all cast shadows on its sustainability and growth. The drop in productivity can be attributed to outdated practices, insufficient irrigation, and a lack of essential infrastructure.
To make matters worse, the population in Pakistan is growing rapidly, outpacing the ability of agriculture to keep up. This has resulted in a significant mismatch between the supply and demand of food. Compounding the problem is that most agricultural land is owned by small-scale farmers who lack the necessary resources to boost their productivity.
On July 7, 2023, the Prime Minister of Pakistan launched the LIMS initiative, marking a significant breakthrough in the country's agriculture. This initiative is set to transform the agricultural sector by providing farmers with real-time access to information on climate change, satellite crop monitoring, water resources, fertilizer use, targeted spray areas, and direct market access. 
The system consolidates land, crops, weather, water resources, and pest control data under one umbrella. This integrated approach boosts agricultural production by leveraging modern technology on underutilized and low-yielding agricultural lands. SIFC anticipates attracting USD 3 billion in foreign investment for the agricultural sector. The introduction of modern irrigation systems in arid lands is expected to significantly benefit small-scale farmers.

Agriculture is crucial to Pakistan's economy, contributing about 24 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing employment for around 42 percent of the workforce.

Pakistan Army will play a crucial role by facilitating and providing coordination and technical support to ensure the project's success. Their role is designed to instill confidence among farmers and the government, adding credibility and reliability to the system. The implementation of advanced technology and modern irrigation systems is poised to enhance productivity, addressing challenges related to food security and reducing import bills in the agricultural sector. With the collaboration of foreign investors and the backing of the Pakistan Army, the country is well-positioned to unlock its vast potential in agriculture, overcoming existing challenges. The LIMS initiative is projected to play a pivotal role in realizing Pakistan's vision of a green revolution.
The LIMS initiative has achieved notable milestones in its mission to advance modern agriculture and enhance food security in Pakistan. Key accomplishments to date include:
Adoption of Modern Irrigation Techniques. LIMS has embraced modern irrigation methods such as modular drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, and pivot irrigation. These techniques aim to enhance water use efficiency and reduce wastage, contributing to sustainable agricultural practices.
Launch of Digital Platforms. The inauguration of a dedicated website and mobile application stands out as a crucial step. These platforms provide farmers with real-time information on climate change, satellite crop monitoring, and details on water, fertilizer, and spray focus areas. This technology empowers farmers to make informed decisions, ultimately boosting agricultural productivity.

By empowering farmers, creating job opportunities, and promoting environmental sustainability, LIMS is propelling modern agriculture and laying the foundation for a green revolution in Pakistan. 

Transformation of Barren Land. One of LIMS' most significant achievements is converting 4.4 million acres of barren land into fertile agricultural plots. Their innovative approach involves promoting corporate farming and leasing land to local and foreign investors. The impact is already visible, with over 150,000 acres in Punjab buzzing with wheat cultivation, significantly contributing to increased agricultural output. Beyond Punjab, LIMS has identified barren wastelands in other provinces, such as 52,713 acres in Sindh, 65,729 acres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 54,797 acres in Balochistan. LIMS is not just transforming landscapes; they are sowing the seeds of a brighter, more sustainable future for agriculture in Pakistan.
Foreign and Local Investment. LIMS actively fosters local and international support for a groundbreaking farming initiative. Through promoting corporate farming and land leasing, LIMS has successfully attracted investors, ushering in a new era for agriculture. The increased funding is poised to trigger a modern revolution in our farming practices, stimulating growth in the sector. LIMS has inked agreements with seven foreign investors covering 140,000 acres and partnered with 85 local investors for 460,000 acres, signaling a significant transformation in our agricultural landscape. Additionally, LIMS has secured a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UAE for wastewater treatment and an agreement with Kuwait for the investment corporation, advancing the rehabilitation project for mangroves. These collaborations underscore LIMS' commitment to innovation and sustainable development in agriculture. 
Revitalizing Canals. To ensure the effective cleaning of canals, experts from the Pakistan Army spearheaded the inauguration of a desilting drive. The government has committed to repairing 5,000 kilometers of canals, implementing continuous monitoring throughout the cleaning process. With approval granted for the desilting of an extensive canal network covering over 15,300 miles across the province, the successful completion of this campaign promises improved water access to three to four hundred thousand acres of agricultural land. Using the LIMS' capabilities, satellite imagery will be employed to track and showcase the progress of the desilting efforts.
Empowering Farmers. In a recent meeting addressing the Agriculture Malls initiative of the LIMS, a comprehensive briefing was provided outlining the support planned for both small and large-scale farmers. Private institutions were urged to actively participate in these agriculture malls, playing a pivotal role in the country's economic development. The initiative aims to guarantee the availability of essential resources such as quality seeds, fertilizers, and modern agricultural machinery within these malls, fostering a more efficient and well-equipped environment for our farming community.
Revolutionizing Seed Certification. In a significant stride towards agricultural innovation, the government has revamped seed certification by reducing the trial period from 2 to 1 year. This progressive move empowers the private sector to lead the way in developing new and advanced seed varieties. The ultimate goal is to enhance per-acre crop yields, fostering innovation and efficiency in the agricultural sector. The government is formulating a draft national seed policy addressing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as part of this initiative. A consultative workshop on the national seed policy is anticipated in March 2024. Developing a Management Information System (MIS) for a seed track and trace system, encompassing seed certification, crop inspection, seed sampling, and seed testing modules, is underway. Establishing a Complaint Management System (CMS) and finalizing the National Seed Authority (NSA) structure and function further emphasize the government's commitment to advancing and modernizing seed-related practices.
FBR's Close Examination of Urea/Fertilizer Companies. Imagine the tax department taking a closer look at the books of urea and fertilizer companies and giving their financial records a thorough checkup. FBR reviews the income reported by sellers and dealers of urea and fertilizers. They compare the money earned to the amount of urea sold or given to farmers. It is making sure everything adds up and everyone's playing fair. It is like a financial health check for these companies, ensuring they are up and up with their taxes.
Capacity Building for Farmers. As part of the initiative, efforts have been made to provide training and capacity-building programs for farmers. Workshops and educational sessions aim to equip farmers with the skills and knowledge necessary to implement modern agricultural techniques effectively. This focus on education contributes to the sustainable and long-term success of the agricultural sector.
Job Creation. The initiative has generated employment opportunities, particularly in the newly cultivated areas. As barren lands are converted into productive agricultural zones, there is a growing demand for labor. This not only addresses unemployment issues but also supports the livelihoods of local communities.
These accomplishments underline the positive impact of the LIMS initiative, showcasing its commitment to promoting sustainable agriculture, leveraging technology, and transforming previously unproductive land into valuable agricultural assets. The LIMS initiative continues to deliver on its objectives by fostering investment, empowering farmers, creating jobs, promoting environmental sustainability, and contributing to the comprehensive development of communities involved in the agricultural transformation.
The establishment of LIMS marks a pivotal moment in reshaping Pakistan's agricultural landscape through the infusion of cutting-edge technology. Anticipating many benefits, the LIMS initiative aims to diminish the country's reliance on agricultural imports, amplify agricultural exports, and address the burgeoning food requirements of Pakistan's expanding population. Embracing modern agriculture and precision farming practices, LIMS aspires to elevate agricultural productivity significantly. Beyond economic gains, this initiative is set to generate employment opportunities, fostering a sustainable livelihood for the people of Pakistan. Moreover, the rehabilitation of waste and uncultivated land underscores LIMS' commitment to maximizing the potential of every acre, contributing to the nation's overall prosperity. 
In conclusion, Pakistan's LIMS initiative stands as a beacon of transformative progress in the agricultural sector. From pioneering technological advancements to fostering sustainable practices and addressing long-standing challenges, LIMS has achieved remarkable milestones. The initiative's multifaceted approach, encompassing digital platforms, foreign and local investments, canal revitalization, and the conversion of barren lands, underscores its commitment to comprehensive agricultural development. By empowering farmers, creating job opportunities, and promoting environmental sustainability, LIMS is propelling modern agriculture and laying the foundation for a green revolution in Pakistan. The collaborative efforts of the government, Pakistan Army, private sector, and international investors exemplify a shared commitment to ensuring food security, economic growth, and prosperity for the nation. As LIMS continues to unfold its potential, the trajectory of Pakistan's agricultural landscape holds promise for a flourishing and resilient future.

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