PAKISTAN AND ECONOMIC CROP PRODUCTIVITY
Agriculture still remains the largest sector of Pakistan's economy in terms of population, employment and income generation
By Dr. S.M. Alam
Nuclear Institute of Agriculture,
Feb 12 - 18, 2001
Pakistan is basically an agriculture country. It is located between 24° and 37° N and 60° and 78° E. It has an area of about 79.6 million hectares which extends about 1600 kilometers from the Arabian Sea, north to the ranges of HinduKush and Himalaya mountains. Because of the location of the five major rivers in the Indus plain, the country has developed and extensive irrigation system with barrages and link canals, which covers the bulk of agricultural area in the provinces of the Punjab and Sindh. The weather is generally very hot in the plains and moderate in the hilly areas.
Agriculture still remains the largest sector of Pakistan's economy in terms of population, employment and income generation. It contributes almost one third of the gross national product (GDP), provides employment to 75 per cent of the rural population and accounts for more than 35 per cent of the export earning. Within the agriculture sector, crop husbandry contributes 69 per cent of GDP and livestock around 28 per cent, while fisheries and sub-sectors account for only 3 per cent of GDP. Only 25 per cent of the total geographical area of Pakistan is under cultivation. The area under forests in the country is 3.6 per cent and range lands is 65 - 70 per cent, about 13 per cent of the total geographical area is classified as culturable waste land.
There are many reasons for non-cultivation of culturable lands in spite of great pressure on land, the most important being non-availability of sufficient irrigation water. The general estimate of availability of irrigation water from both surface and ground sources entering the Indus Basin and to 17.5 millions hectare meter. About 11 millions hectare meter are diverted into canal system and the rest is lost to the sea and evaporation.
The soils of Pakistan vary widely but mostly the soils are alluvial. Basically, all the good land with hardly any productivity limitations under irrigation is located in Northern and Central Indus Basin. Out of 79.64 million hectares comprising the total land area of Pakistan 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 5.87 million hectares.
The total surface water available in the country is 134.0 billion cubic meter (BCM) out of which 80.4 BCM is obtained from canals, and 12.2%, 32.4 BCM from public and private tubewells, respectively. Colossal water losses occur during conveyance as well as application at the farms. These losses in case of canal water are estimated at 40%.
Agricultural and food production.
Crops: Pakistan's agriculture contributes over 26 per cent of the national income, provides employment to 54% of the total labour force and three fourth of the country's exports. Crop production accounts for approximately 70% of the value of agricultural product in Pakistan. It is vitally important both in providing domestic food and fiber supplies and serving as a major source of foreign exchange earnings through export of both raw materials and processed crop commodities.
Total land areas (Mha)
Total cropped areas (Mha)
Of this cropped area, only 25.14 per cent is under cultivation, 4.5 per cent under forest, about 57 per cent is range land.
The irrigated land is 75 per cent (15.2 mha of the total cropped area), 19 per cent (or nearly 4.25 mha) is rain-fed, while the other 4 per cent is irrigated by tubewell and other sources.
Cropping seasons (Two)
Rabi Crops - Wheat, Gram, Tobacco, Rape seed, Mustard, Pulses etc.
Sowing start from October to January and harvested between April to June.
Kharif Crops - Rice, Cotton, Maize; Sugarcane, Sowing start in April to September and harvested in October to March.
The current decade has shown inconsistent growth trend in agricultural sector that contributes almost 25 per cent of our GDP and shares more than 50 per cent of Pakistan export.In addition, about 66 per cent of Pakistan total population,73 per cent of total labour force, reside in the rural areas of which 48 per cent is involves in agriculture.There was an impressive growth of almost 6.0 per cent in agriculture sector. During 1997-98 in the perspective of agricultural productivity, this sector made a vital contribution to the overall growth of agricultural crops of wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane and other crops. Out of a total geographical area of 80.0 million hectares only 22.00 million hectares (nearly 29) is cropped. There are two seasons of crop sowing in the country, Kharif and Rabi. The kharif crops are sown during the months, from April to June and generally harvested in October. Rabi crops are sown in October-November and harvested in April-June. The performance of some major crops are given below:
Wheat: Wheat is the most important food crop of Pakistan and has remained the central theme of self-sufficiency programme in the country.With the advent of Green Revolution national wheat production has increased from 4 million tonnes in 1965-66 ton over 7 million tonnes in 1968-69, making Pakistan the first developing country in Asia to achieve self-sufficiency, in wheat production. During the last 30 years the new wheat varieties have been regularly evolved by various wheat breeding programme in the country. The wheat production with high yielding varieties and appropriate package of technology has gone to 18.9 million tonnes in 1997-98, which is a record. This yield was obtained from an area of 8355 million hectares. This increase was mainly due to introduction of high yielding and disease-resistant varieties, adaptation of improved crop production technologies and proper plant protection measures and increase in land areas. Although, the production was increased year after year, but it remained lowest in the world. Now the country imports million tons of wheat to meet the yearly target as well as domestic needs for the population.
Rice: Rice is the major food as well as commercial crop of the country. It occupies about 10 per cent of the total cropped area. On the average, one-third of its production is exported every year. The production target for the year 1997-98 was 4.39 million tons. Although, an increase of 2.6 per cent in area and 0.4 per cent in production was enhanced, but this did not increase the per hectare yield. During 1997-98, yield per hectare of 1871kg/ha was obtained as against 1912 kg/ha in 1996-97.
Cotton: The overall target for cotton crop production during 1997-98 was fixed at 10 million bales which could not be achieved due to virus attack in some areas, serious pest damage and other attack. According to the estimates production during 1997-98 was 9.35 million bales as against 9.37 million bales, last year. The area for cotton was 3.04 million hectares, with 525 kg yield /ha. This yield is also low compared to other cotton producing countries.
Sugarcane: sugarcane is an important industrial crop and covers about 8% of the total cropped area in the country. It serves as the major raw material for the production of white sugar and gur. Sugarcane has been cultivated on an area of 1.056 million hectares with the production of 53.10 million tons. Both area and production has been substantially increased compared to last year. It is grown in all the four provinces of Pakistan. Punjab and Sindh are the main sugarcane growing provinces. The increase in the sugarcane production is mainly due to increase in the cultivated areas in the country.
A detailed areas, production and yield per hectare in kilogram of four main crops are given below for the year 1997-98.
Area, Production and Yield of four major crops
Area = 000 Hectares, Production = 000 Tonnes and Yield = Kg/Ha