CPEC is destined to boast Pakistan’s economy. The important projects developed by Pakistan and China through active collaboration, include transportation infrastructure, energy power plants, industrial complexes and the Gwadar port area. CPEC’s potential impact on the agricultural department is rarely discussed on the economic forums, despite the fact that the primary sector of the economy contributes substantially to the country’s current GDP level. Still the benefits that the agricultural sector would gain through CPEC are hard to ignore.
According to a recent article that appeared in Express tribune, detailed media reports on CPEC’s long-term plan, National Development and Reform Commission and China Development Bank, emphasize that the agricultural sector is a major part of CPEC. China Pakistan Economic Corridor would deliver massive networks of transportation that will connect Khunjerab in the north to Gwadar in the south-west. This would boost the economic conditions of several remote rural towns, especially the ones relying on primary industry, as the transportation and delivery times to urban centers and markets would be reduced considerably.
Moreover, this network would give agricultural producers an opportunity to export raw material and agricultural products to China and other countries as CPEC promises to improve Pakistan’s trade integration with the Global economy. It is very important to determine the growing influence of CPEC and its impact on the sector as rural employment and agro-based industrial output are directly related with the agricultural sector.
Considering the constant base prices of 2005 and 2006, Agriculture makes up one-fifth of the country’s GDP. About 3.7 billion dollars was raised from food products in Fiscal year of 2016. The main contributor was rice, which contributed around 1.8 billion dollars. According to the official data and the aforementioned tribune article, export receipts from the food products decreased more than 15% between FY15 and FY16. Exports of Basmati rice contributed 32% to all rice export receipts in 2016 fiscal year but declined more than 31% in the year. Whereas, the exports of other types of rice increased by 7%. The textile sector recorded a decline of 5.8% in receipts between FY15 and FY16. Receipts from raw cotton, which stood at $153 million in FY15, decreased more than 49% between 2015 and 2016.
The fall in the agricultural exports in 2016 might sound alarming as the sector is still a major contributor of the exports and overall GDP, but it can be seen that the fast-paced development of CPEC is already opening new paths and bringing better opportunities. Soon Pakistan would be at a great advantage to utilize its agricultural capabilities to raise GDP and improve overall economy.