By Dr. S.M. Alam NIA,
August 16 - 22, 1999
Pakistan is basically an agricultural country. It is located between
24° and 37° N and 60° and 78°. It has geographical area of 79.61 million hectares,
which extends about 16-50 kilometers from the Arabian Sea in south to the range of Hindu
Kush and the Himalaya mountains in the north.
It is a land of 5 major rivers in the Indus Plain, and has developed an
irrigation system of about 62,000 kilometers long and covers the bulk of agricultural area
of the country. The weather is generally very hot in the plains and moderate in the hilly
areas. The country has two distinct crop seasonssummer and winter, and the crops are
also distinctly divided into Rabi (winter) and Kharif (summer) crops. Agriculture is a
dominant and the largest sector in the economy of Pakistan, which accounts for one-fourth
of the gross domestic product (GDP), provides 60 percent of the total laborer force of the
country. Agriculture sector is important to meet the food demands of growing population to
provide raw materials and export earnings. Out of the total geographical area of Pakistan
only 25 percent is under cultivation. The area under forest in the country is about 4.5
percent and rangeland is about 57 percent. Of the total areas only 19.5 million hectares
are devoted to arable land under permanent crops. The irrigated area consists of 13.62
million hectares and the non-irrigated of about 5.87 million hectares.
Our population growth is continued unabated at 3.1 percent per annum,
and if the production trends of food grains in the rest past continued, we might have to
face the frightening prospect of increasing food grain deficits by the year 2000.
The constraint for yield depressants are thought to be due to (i) poor
seed bed preparation (ii) late sowing (iii) poor quality of seed (iv) inadequate and ill
timed irrigation (v) fertilizer (vi) weed competition (vii) insect and disease control
(viii) cultural practices and (ix) harvesting losses. The economic survey 1996, puts the
population estimate at 131.63 million on 1st January, 1996. If assumes a population growth
rate of 2.8 percent per annum, at that rate, our population by the end of year 2000 would
be 151 million. The World Bank estimates of our population in 2000 range between l31
million and 155 million.
To achieve the envisaged crop production targets, emphasis will be
placed on the use of (i) high yielding varieties (ii) certified improved seeds (iii)
timely application of adequate quantities of fertilizers in right proportion, (iv)
integrated pest management (v) adequate quantities of water (vi) larger labourer input
resulting in better tillage operations. (vii) mechanization and strictly following the
crop calendar (viii) weed control (ix) improved crop husbandry practices.
Over the last 50 years, the increase in agricultural production has
been achieved mainly by increasing crop yields, the agricultural area has expanded
relatively little. In 1960, the global area under arable and permanent crops was about 1.4
billion ha. By 1990, this had expanded by just 3.5% to 1.48 billion. In 1960, world cereal
production was about 830 million tonnes. By 1990, this had increased to 1820 million
tonnes and by 1997, to 1910 million tonnes. In addition to supplying humanity directly
with a majority of its dietary requirements, cereals have also filled the large increase
in meat consumption by providing animal feed. Yield increases have accounted for the
overwhelming majority of the production increases of the major cereals. Moreover,
agricultural production has generally grown faster in the developing countries than in the
developed countries, though from a much lower yield base.
Sustainable Agriculture for Crop Productivity
Sustainable agriculture is a management system that uses inputs both
those available as natural resources on the farm and those purchased externally in the
most efficient manner, possible to obtain productivity and profitability from a farming
operation, while minimizing the adverse effects on environment. A large basal application
of reactive phosphate rock, together with the other nutrients as necessary followed by a
fast growing legume crop and then an appropriate rotation with nutrient replacement, will
sustain production indefinitely.
Nutrient depletion in the farm land areas has brought terrible
devastation in some cropping areas of a country. There is no vegetation whatsoever,
despite adequate rainfall chemical fertilizers are now re-vegetating such areas. They have
rapidly overtaken organic matter as a chief source of nutrients and expert opinion
believes that such external nutrient source are the only way to sustain the food
requirement of the population. If sustainability is to be maintained as the first
priority, then other important components such as efficiency of input use, economic return
and environmental protection can all be taken into use appropriately as part of the
sustainability phenomenon. Towards the agriculture sustainability the population growth
led to an increase in the number of settlements and more importantly to the formation of
Sustainable agriculture and the sound use of fertilizers to support it,
is one of the important development challenges facing countries around the world.
Agriculture is also closely linked to environmental quality in a variety of ways and the
challenge of our generation is how to feed a growing plant, while maintaining the
integrity of our ecological life support system.
The maintenance, restoration and enhancement of soil fertility are
widely acknowledged as key factors in the development of national food security and
sustainable agricultural growth. Traditionally soil fertility conservation and plant
nutrition practices include farm yard manure application, green manuring and incorporation
in soil of crop residues to sustain crop production. But demographic pressure demanded
more produce per unit of area and time to feed the growing population by using the low
sustainable input factors to get high output results in crop productivity.