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Agriculture in Pakistan       

Sep 10 - 16, 2001

NIA, Tandojam, Pakistan.

Pakistan occupies the North-eastern part of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent between 23 and 37 north latitude and 62 and 75 east longitude. The length and width, it covers is approximately 1400 kilometers and 500 kilometers, respectively. Pakistan is basically an agricultural country and thus agriculture is the 'backbone' of the economy and the mainstay of our national economic life. It contributes about 25% to the GDP, employs about 50 % of the total labour-force, provides livelihood directly to 70 % of the rural population, and earns about 60 % of the total value of exports. Overall, it meets the food needs of the population. But unfortunately, the backbone is aching badly now and may suffer crack under the pressure on soil discordance and natural calamities.

The total geographical area of Pakistan according to agricultural statistics of Pakistan 1998-99 is 79.61 million hectares (mha) (about 197 million acres), of which only 25 % or 19.82 million hectares (about 48.96 million acres) are currently under cultivation. Out of the total land area of Pakistan, the total land area of Punjab is 20.6 mha (about 50.90 million acres), out of which 54 % or 11.04 mha (or 27.28 million acres) are cultivated. The total land area of Sindh is 14.1 mha (or 34.84 million acres), out of which nearly 39 % or 5.45 mha (or 13.45 million acres) are cultivated. The total land area of Balochistan is 34.7 mha (or 85.74 million acres), out of which only 4 % or 1.4 mha (or 3.46 million acres) are cultivated, and the total land area of NWFP comprises of 10.2 mha (25.20 million acres), out of which nearly 10% or 1.93 mha (or 4.77 million acres) are cultivated. The vast areas of country generally own good fertile soil, a favourable climate and with the world's largest elaborated canal irrigation network. Pakistan is fortunate in that the soil, topography and climate are generally suitable for the year round agriculture. Major agricultural areas lie within the plains formed by Indus river and its tributaries namely Kabul, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej, which run in a general northeast/south-west direction. Indus plains are like a tunnel with number of water sources at the top, converging into single stream, which flows into the Arabian Sea, east of Karachi.

World largest contiguous irrigation system, which Pakistan now inherits was started by the British around middle of the 19th century. After independence extensive development took place in irrigation system of the country. At present Pakistan has three major reservoirs (Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma), 23 barrages/head works/syphons, 12 interriver link and 45 canal commands extending for about 38,000 miles to serve over 90,000 water courses. Rainfall in this area is seasonal and generally varies from 50-900 mm with an annual average of 250 mm. Therefore, our farming is based mainly on the quantum of heavy irrigation carried out from canals, originating from the Indus river due to short and insufficient rainy season and a long dry summer in the plains. About 75 % of land is cultivated through irrigation water. While, nearly 25 % of land is cultivated through tube-wells, ponds and rain water. Agriculture accounting for 30 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and keeping employed 55 per cent of its labour force, is rated as the most vital sector in the country' s economy.

One of the finest Pakistani achievements related to the historical fact of post independence period has been the green revolution of 1960, which turned the country from an ardent importer of food grains into an exporter of a few crops. The newly developed early maturity and high yielding dwarf varieties of wheat and rice during the period helped in increasing the production of food grains significantly. This has led to enormous transformation in the positive direction of economy of the country, which came about through the combined efforts of scientists, researchers, planners and farmers.

The country produces wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, maize and other cereal in sufficient quantities. Wheat is the leading food grain in Pakistan. Now the wheat production has reached to over 21 million tons annually. Rice is the second most important food grain. It requires irrigation and is grown as a Kharif crop. Maize is mostly grown in Kharif season. Cotton is an important cash crop of the country. It is exported in sufficient quantity. Other crops of food products millet, sorghum, soybean, dry beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, pepper, tobacco. The important fruits are date palm, apples, citrus, mangoes, bananas. The production of all major food commodities in Pakistan have shown as upward trend, but the increase was most significant in the case of poultry meat, fruits, eggs, red meat and vegetables. Pulses also showed substantial increase in production. Pakistan's major imports of food commodities include edible oils, sugar, tea, dry milk and pulses. The country however, is a major exporter of rice and cotton and other exports include fruits and some vegetables. Since independence, the population increased many folds, similarly the grain production increased several times. Besides green revolution, significant production advances have been made in milk, fish, fruits and vegetables. To propel agriculture of the country into 21st century, the quality of technical skills and management of agricultural manpower must improve. Science, technology and generation of new technology will of course be helpful in increasing the agricultural productivity of the country. Area and Production of all crops for the year 1998-99:

i) Food crops (Area 12598 x 103 hectares and production 24775 x 103 tons).
ii) Cash crops (Area 4140 x 103 hectares and production 56923 x 103 tons).
iii) Pulses (Area 1531 x 103 hectares and production 9$1 x 103 tons).
iv) Edible oilseeds (Area 641 x 103 hectares and production 3602 x 103 tons).

Food crops cover about 75 % of cropped area, while cash crops cover nearly 25 % of the cropped areas.

1. Area and production of important food grain crops in Pakistan and Province-wise: (wheat, rice, maize, bajra, jowar, barley, etc.):

+ Total wheat in Pakistan (Area 8229.9 x 103 hectares and production 1785.6 x 103 tons and yield kilograms per hectare).

Province-wise Area, Production and Yield in kilograms per hectare, respectively of important food crops:

i)Punjab (Area 5934.6 x 103 hectares, Production 13212 x 103 tons and Yield 2226 kg/ha).
ii)Sindh (Area 1123.7 x 103 hectares, Production 2675.1 x 103 tons and Yield 2381 kg/ha).
i)NWFP (Area 857.6 x 103 hectares, Production 1221.8 x 103 tons and Yield 1425 kg/ha).
ii)Balochistan (Area 314 x 103 hectares, Production 748.7 x 103 tons and Yield 2384 kg/ha).

Wheat is the most important staple food of Pakistan. This year there was a surplus production of wheat in the country. The total production of wheat for the year 1999-2000 was over 21.0 million tons. Out of this, government had to export certain quantity of wheat to the foreign country.

+Rice in Pakistan (Area 2423.6 x 103 hectares, Production 4673.8 x 103 tons and Yield 1928 kg/ha).

i) Punjab (Area 1492.9 x 103 hectares, Production 2176 x 103 tons and Yield 1458 kg/ha).
ii) Sindh (Area 704.1x 103 hectares, Production 1930.3 x 103 tons and Yield 2742 kg/ha).
iii) NWFP (Area 68.2 x 103 hectares, Production 133.6 x 103 tons and Yield 1959 kg/ha).
iv) Balochistan (Area 158.4 x 103 hectares, Production 433,9 x 103 tons and Yield 1928 kg/ha).

Pakistan is very much sufficient in the production of rice and cotton. The country had to export the surplus quantity of rice and cotton to the foreign countries and in this way, the country received a remarkable amount and of foreign exchange

+ Maize in Pakistan (Area 962.2 x 103 hectares, Production 1665 x 103 tons and Yield 1730 kg/ha).

i) Punjab (Area 413.9 x 103 hectares, Production 828.2 x 103 tons and Yield-2001 kg/ha).
ii) Sindh (Area 10.5 x 103 hectares, Production 5.5 x 103 tons and Yield 524 kg/ha).
iii) NWFP (Area 534.4 x 103 hectares, Production 827.6 x 103 tons and Yield 1549 kg/ha).
iv) Balochistan (Area 3.4 x 103 hectares, Production 3.7 x 103 tons and Yield 1088 kg/ha).

+ Bajra in Pakistan (Area 462.6 x 103 hectares, Production 212.9 x 103 tons and Yield 460 kg/ha).

i) Punjab (Area 280.9 x 103 hectares, Production 136.2 x 103 tons and Yield 485 kg/ha).
ii) Sindh (Area 175.0 x 103 hectares, Production 73.1 x 103 tons and Yield 418 kg/ha).
iii) NWFP (Area 6.4 x 103 hectares, Production 3.3 x 103 tons and Yield 516 kg/ha).
iv) Balochistan (Area 0.3 x 103 hectares, Production 0.3 x 103 tons and Yield 1000 kg/ha).

+ Jowar in Pakistan (Area 382.7 x 103 hectares, Production 227.8 x 103 tons and Yield 595 kg/ha).

i) Punjab (Area 240 x 103 hectares, Production 134 x 103 tons and Yield 561 kg/ha).
ii) Sindh (Area 110.3 x 103 hectares Production 64.4 x 103 tons and Yield 584 kg/ha).
iii) NWFP (Area 8.6 x 103 hectares, Production 5.4 x 103 tons and Yield 628 kg/ha).
iv) Balochistan (Area 23.5 x 103 hectares, Production 23.1 x 103 tons and Yield 983 kg/ha).

2. Province-wise area (103 hectares), Production (103 tons) and Yield (kilograms per hectare) of cash crops. The cash crops include sugarcane, cotton, tobacco, jute etc.

+ Sugarcane Area, Production and Yield kg/ha in Pakistan is (Area 1155.1 x 103 hectares, Production 55191.1 x 103 tons and Yield 47.8 kilogram per hectare).

i) Punjab (Area 780 x 103 hectares, Production 33382.8 x 103 tons and 42.8 kg/ha).
ii) Sindh (Area 270.8 x 103 hectares, Production 7050.7 x 103 tons and 63.0 kg/ha).
iii) NWFP (Area 103.3 x 103 hectares, Production 4719.5 x 103 tons and 45.7 kg/ha).
iv) Balochistan (Area 0.7 x 103 hectares, Production 38.1 x 103 tons and 54.4 kg/ha).

+ Cotton Area, Production and Yield kg/ha in Pakistan is (Area 2922.8 x 103 hectares, Production 8790.2 x 103 bales (one bale = 373 lbs) and Yield 512 kilogram per hectare).

i) Punjab (Area 2282.8 x 103 hectares, Production 6628 x 103 tons and 494 kg/ha).
ii) Sindh (Area 630.2 x 103 hectares, Production 2134.1 x 103 tons and 576 kg/ha).
iii) NWFP (Area 0.4 x 103 hectares, Production 0.7 x 103 tons and 298 kg/ha).
iv) Balochistan (Area 9.4 x 103 hectares, Production 27.4 x 103 tons and 496 kg/ha).

+ Tobacco Area, Production and Yield kg/ha in Pakistan is Area 57.3 x 103 hectares, Production 108.8 x 103 tons and Yield 1899 kilogram per hectare.

i) Punjab (Area 19.6 x 103 hectares, Production 24.6 x 103 tons and 1255 kg/ha).
ii) Sindh (Area 03. x 103 hectares, Production 0.4 x 103 tons and 1333 kg/ha).
iii) NWFP (Area 34.5 x 103 hectares, Production 78.8 x 103 tons and 2284 kg/ha).
iv) Balochistan (Area 2.9 x 103 hectares, Production 5.0 x 103 tons and 1724 kg/ha). In addition to these, other cash crops are sugar-beet guar-seed etc.

Pulses:The pulses include gram, mung, masoor (lentil), mash, mattar and other pulses of Rabi and Kharif season. The area and production of all pulses in Pakistan are (Area 1530.5 x 103 hectares, Production 951.4 x 103 tons).

Edible oils: The edible oils crops include soybean, sunflower, sesamum, groundnut, mustard, linseed, canola, rape-seed, castor-seed etc.

The total area, production and yield of all oilseed crops are (Area 690 x 103 hectares, Production 3790 x 103 tons).

The oilseed crops do not fulfil all the requirements of our increasing population, therefore Government of Pakistan have to spend billions of dollars on the purchase of palm oil and soybean from the foreign countries.

Vegetable: The important vegetable crops grown in the country are potato, tomato, egg plant, lady finger, kakri, bitter gourd, loki, pumpkin, chillies, ginger, cucumber, garlic, radish, carrot, turmeric, corriander etc.

Livestock: Pakistan is self-sufficient in the production of livestock. The livestock includes, cattle, sheep, buffalo, goats, canals, asses, horses, mules and poultry. All the four provinces are enriched in livestock production. However, the production of livestock in the country are: cattle (17541 x 103), buffaloes (15705 x 103), sheep (23287 x 103), goats (29945 x 103), camels (958 x 103), asses (2998 x 103), horses (388 x 103), mules (69 x 103) and poultry (57503 x 103).

Fish Production: Fish are also an important diet for the people of country. The total production of fish both from inland (164x 103 tons) and marine (434 x 103 tons). Thus, through high sea, ponds and rivers of the country are (597.0 x 103 tons).

Fruits: The important fruits, which grow in Pakistan are: citrus, mango, banana, apple, guava, grape-fruit, apricot, peach, pears, plum, grapes, pomegranate, dates, almonds.


The agrarian situations relating to Pakistan dealt above generally holds good for future planning. The country has countess, small and marginal farmers, in whose farm, the productivity is very low. Science and technology must be suited to this peculiar situation of the country. There are wide gaps both in yields obtained against the potential and technology transfer is very weak. The concerns of environmental protection, sustainability, employment, equity, energy, profitability and exports have become important. At present, the idea of economic reform process, competitiveness, efficiency and quality factors of agricultural production and export have assumed critical significance threatened loss of biodiversity, climatic change, burgeoning population are yet another major issues confronting the country. Further, declining real investment in agriculture especially agricultural research posses a real challenge to increase productivity in agriculture. There should be a comprehensive planning to boost up the crop productivity with honest and devotion, this problem can easily be overcome in the long run.