Dr. Farid A Malik |
My great friend Tariq Bucha (Late), was President Farmer’s Association of Pakistan and also headed the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (ARDC) of PTI together with Dr. Muhammad Shafique the expert on irrigation and water resources. A comprehensive policy paper had been prepared by them to turn around the agriculture sector which is vital for our growth.
Tariq had solid agriculture credentials in addition to being the heir to the legacy of his father Malik Khuda Buksh Bucha the architect of the Green Revolution in Pakistan. For him, it was a labor of love. The paper was presented at the Leadership Support Office (LSO) run by Shah Mahmood Qureshi which is located on Shami Road; it was a detailed evaluation of the existing situation and the way forward.
Despite Tariq’s excellent roadmap for green Revolution II, it was not included in the party manifesto. The Lahore Think Tank of which Tariq was an important part had prepared policy frameworks in five areas: Agriculture, Economy, Security, Local Government, and Energy together with the first 100 days plan of a PTI led government for 2013 elections.
PTI was perhaps the most prepared party to govern with four Think Tanks (Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, and Overseas) and a fourteen-member Shadow Cabinet in place by 2011. With the onslaught of the electable in late 2011, the party changed direction and selfless professionals like Tariq Bucha got disillusioned. Despite the setback, his ARDC continued to work.
A model farm was also developed on Multan Road where the alternate form of energy was introduced. Dr. Shafique and his team installed a solar tube well with an overhead water storage tank and biogas generator for energy needs was also made operational. A village framework for production and distribution of Bio-gas was also developed by the team.
With his rural roots, Tariq was also very keen in the development of livestock and organic fertilizer as being used in Italy. In addition to Agri-Marketing and Agri-IT, he desired to build a rural development framework for the country. Experts were sought for this purpose. While Urban Development has been on the agenda of the rulers, Rural Development has been largely ignored as such there are not too many local experts available.
He also introduced the concept of party Agri councilors to help the farmers. A separate non-political hierarchy was also proposed. As President of the Farmers Association of Pakistan (FAP), he worked very closely with the members and constantly sought their inputs in policymaking. Considering the plight of the farmers he was against free trade with India and was very vocal about it.
For Naya Pakistan, he firmly believed that growth in the agriculture sector was imperative. Through his “Kisan Risala,” he highlighted the development in this area and also communicated with the community. The slogan of the publication was “A spokesperson for the future of Pakistan”. In his death, the farmer’s community lost its leader and guide. For a long time, Pakistan has been without an effective agriculture policy as a result of which the country has about 1.08 million hectares of cultivable wasteland.
Tariq’s father Malik Khuda Buksh Bucha who was an agri guru played a long glorious inning. It was because of his policies and leadership that Green Revolution I became a reality. As an advisor to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) he continued to develop the agri sector and Pakistan became self-sufficient in its food production. In light of the traditions of Southern Punjab, he avoided confrontation and controversies.
As his admirer, I requested him several times to write his memoirs but he remained evasive. Finally, I took the liberty to confront him; his soft reply was plain and simple. “When you speak the truth people get offended and try to tarnish your reputation”. For his honor and dignity had paramount importance.
Pakistan needs Green Revolution-II for which Tariq Bucha worked very hard. The party electable did not value his work as they have their own agendas. Tariq’s mission should continue in the same manner as he pursued his father’s crusade of green Pakistan. His son Furqan Bucha has to step in his father’s shoes and share his policies with the nation.
Agri and rural development is vitally important for the future of the motherland and 70% of its people who live there in sub-human conditions. The work done by the Agri and Rural Development Committee of PTI can be a good starting point. Growing up in the sixties the voice of Khuda Buksh Bucha was heard on the radio every night “Mere Kisan Bhaio”.
In the information age, the message can be transmitted very effectively through the electronic media to start the Green Revolution-II as envisioned by my friend Tariq Bucha the farmer with a vision. Sound policies in this vital sector can bail us out, value addition and agro-based industries are the way forward to revive and strengthen the sinking economy of the country.
Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in The Nation and has been republished here with the author’s permission.