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Agriculture in Pakistan and Indian Punjab

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The agriculture in Indian Punjab is mostly mechanized and completely free of feudal yoke

By S.M. ALAM and R. ANSAR1 NIA, Tandojam
Aug 30 - Sep 05, 1999

Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan's economy, but inspite of the favourable conditions of soils and climate, the yield per unit area is low and is nearly half of the yields achieved in India having the similar climatic conditions. Low yields are mainly attributed to salinity/sodicity, improper use of fertilizer, inadequate water supplies, insects and pests diseases, poor farm land and water management practices. Most of our agriculturally productive land falls in the arid and semi-arid climatic regions therefore, the success of agriculture mainly depends upon the surface irrigation. The pressure brought upon to each nation to feed more people have increased the significance of food production in arid and semi-arid regions, which constitute one third of the area of the globe. In India about 75% of the food grains annually, produced in that country. In Pakistan, 80% of its total land area of 79.61 mha or about 25% of its cultivated of 20.43 mha is rainfed. Both Pakistan (7,960,96 sq. kilometers) and India (3,287,782 sq. kilometers) are agricultural countries. Pakistan is comprised of 4 provinces, whereas in India, these are 22 provinces. In Pakistan, the provinces of Punjab, NWFP and Sindh are used to produce the maximum quantities of food grains. Similarly, in India, the provinces of Punjab, U.P., C.P., Behar etc. are mostly fertile and produce huge quantities of food grains for their population. The provinces of the Punjab of the two countries are very fertile and have significant contributions in the agricultural productivity of the both countries. They are situated adjacent to each other and there is only a demarcation line dividing the two provinces from each other countries.

The total geographical areas of Pakistani Punjab are 79284 sq miles and that of Indian Punjab are 19,450 square miles, respectively. Thus, our area is about 4 times greater than that of Indian Punjab. Yet, the Indian side produces more and feeds almost the entire nation of 950 million. Similarly, 69.5 percent and 85.2 percent of the total areas of Pakistan and Indian Punjab are under cultivation. Cropping potentiality is also substantially higher in Indian Punjab as compared to Pakistan Punjab. Irrigation systems in Indian Punjab is far better than the Pakistani Punjab. However, the Pakistani Punjab has an extensive system of canals covering distance of 59000 kilometers, which have converted large areas that were formerly desert wastes into prosperous agricultural settlements. Wheat and cotton are the principal crops, where rainfall or irrigation are sufficient throughout the year for the crops. Millet and gram are the chief crops in the drier western part of the province. It has been reported that in 1995, there were 860,000 tube-wells in the Indian Punjab, while in Pakistani Punjab in 1994, there were 342000 tubewells. In addition, more than 80 percent tube-wells in Indian Punjab are electrically operated in comparison to only 24 percent in Pakistani Punjab. These differences in the operational patterns of the agricultural implements have great impact on the agricultural development of the two provinces. In 1994, there were 1,30,000 tractors in Pakistan Punjab compared to 3, 20,000 in the Indian one. The cultivated land tractor ratio is 13.40 hectares as compared to that of 93 hectares in Pakistani Punjab.

The per hectare uses of all the fertilizers were 96 kgs in Pakistani Punjab compared to 157 kgs in Indian Punjab in 1994. Application of more fertilizer is required more operational tube-wells, because the commitment of adequate and timely irrigation water through the tube-wells allows more effective use of fertilizers in Indian Punjab. While, the insufficient availability of water and major dependency on canal water restricted to a great extent the quantity of use of the required fertilizers in our side. The agricultural extension services have significant role to play in the use of weedicides which shows the uniform crop stands free from the menace of weeds. The infestation of weeds in almost all the economical crops has now become a real menace at the common farm level, especially due to multiple cropping in the present day farming. Different weeds, which are very similar to the main crop plants are difficult to control by using manual hand hoeing/hand removal. The use of weedicide is very effective in the control of weeds. Indian Punjab farmers, use about 60 percent of the total herbicides consumed in India, of which main parts goes to wheat and rice crops. In Pakistani Punjab, the use of weedicide is very little both on wheat and rice crops. The use of manual weeding is also negligible. Time of sowing is an important factor which influences the yield obtained by the farmers. Work done in Indian Punjab has shown that delay in sowing of wheat by about a week causes yield reduction of 3/4 quintals/hectare. Similarly, work done in Pakistani Punjab has sowing of wheat substantially reduced crop yield i.e. each day of delay in wheat sowing after third week of November, produces less wheat yield of 35-40 kgs per hectare.

In Pakistani Punjab a major proportion of wheat is sown late. Wheat sowing continues till early January. In Indian Punjab, wheat follows coarse rice, where over 90 percent area is under early maturing coarse rice varieties. In this way, the whole area of wheat is utilized in cultivation.

The comparison of the yields of a few crops in the two Punjabs for the year 1981-82 are given in Table 1.


The agriculture in Indian Punjab is mostly mechanized and completely free of feudal yoke. In Pakistani Punjab farmers tried their best to boost up the wheat production. But they face lot of difficulties in normal agricultural practices. However, the government has given incentive for the benefit of the farmers.

Available food production resources are the plants and the land on which they grow and the environment, in which they develop. Improved certified seeds, water, compost and farm yard manure and fertilizers, the skill and the knowledge of production technology and the plant protection techniques are the supplementary, while markets for farm produce, production credit, production incentives, farm machineries, transportation, education and extension training services are the accelerators. High yielding varieties, irrigation schedules and its potential, agronomic advancement increasing irrigation facility, time of fertilizer application, seed rate, timely sowing, planting distance and weeding are the important cultural operations. Increasing the area under high yielding varieties, adaptation of improved cultivation technology, productivity of backward neglected areas may be pushed on.

Suitable crop planning for rainfed, saline and alkaline areas should be made. The conservation of rain water may also be useful. Feasibility of introducing cooperative/collective farming, development of community farm and introduction of contract cultivation may be pushed on. Similarly, the introduction of grain levy/taxation on farm income may induce the feelings among the cultivators to produce more food by adopting advance agronomical techniques and raising the level of management.

Table 1. Area, Production and yield of different crops in 1981-82



Pakistani Punjab

Indian Punjab








(000 ha)

(000 tons)

(kg/ ha)

(000 ha)

(000 tons)

(kg ha)





























From the above table, the differences in the areas and the crop yields of two provinces are clear and lucid.