FRONTIERS IN CROP PRODUCTIVITY
Crop production at a large scale will have to increase in order to meet the ever need of the increasing population of the country
Dr. S.M. ALAM NIA, Tandojam
Aug 04 - 10 , 2003
Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan's economy. It accounts for about 35% percent of gross domestic products, employs 53 percent of the total labour force, supports directly and indirectly 70 percent of the population for their sustenance, contributes 80 percent of foreign exchange earnings (36% through export of agricultural primary and 44 percent agro-based industrial commodities), provides raw materials for major industries like cotton textiles and sugar as well as several medium/small scale industries. It is thus evident that welfare of the vast majority of the population, and even political stability of the country are critically dependent on efficient harnessing of the agricultural resources of the country on a progressively sustained basis to cope with the basic needs of the fast growing population.
Presently, the population of the country, is increasing at a rate of over 2.6 percent annually. Subsequently, crop production at a large scale will have to increase in order to meet the ever need of the increasing population of the country. It has been opined that the increase in the agricultural productivity can be increased either by bringing more area under cultivation or by increasing the per acre yield of the crop. Fertile lands are also utilizing in the development of industry and residential quarters. The country has large areas of deep soil, favourable topography, suitable climatic conditions and water wealth which has already been developed into the largest canal-irrigation system in the world to produce food, feed and fibre in a multiple cropping system. The Indus Basin is one of the world's greatest natural resources' capable of producing about million tons of food grains annually. Out of 76 million acres of cultural land, only about 48 million acres are being actually cultivated. A considerable part of the remaining 28 million acres can be brought under cultivation by harnessing the available water resources, improved water management additional surface storage, introduction of better adapted, high-yielding, pest/disease resistant varieties/strains of crops and livestock including poultry and application of site-specific improved technologies. The average yield per acre of major crops is at present far below their production potential, which provides tremendous scope for increased production. There is a wide gap (50-80%) in yield per acre obtained by progressive farmers applying a complete package of proven technology in various areas and the average farmers using out moded farming methods. Area under forests is seriously inadequate to meet the requirement of timber and other forest products. It can be substantially increased by intensification of research and development efforts on afforestation and introduction of fast-growing species for timber and fuel wood production.
Pakistan is the home of some of the finest breeds of livestock, well-adapted to tropical and sub-tropical conditions. There is considerable scope for improving production per animal unit both through intensive selection and crossing with suitable improved exotic breeds. The country has vast inland and marine fisheries resources which provide enormous scope for development by systematic surveys research on breeding and seedling techniques, introduction of fast-growing species and improved mechanized fishing crafts and efficient storage facilities.
The major current and anticipated constraints of crop production and some of the extending or emerging technologies are summarized in Table. In order of priority, soil erosion (deterioration), increasingly erratic water supplies, rising energy costs, and progressive contamination of the environment (water, air, and soil pollution) are commonly noticed and rapidly accentuating major constraints of present and future crop production. Techniques to counteract or overcome one or more of these constraints include conservation tillage, different modes and practices of mixed cropping' modified irrigation procedures, and improved pest management systems.
The vulnerability of crops to adverse climatic and meteorological condition not only causes frequent crop failure and harvest losses but also prevents a significant extension of the global surface of arable land and a shift of more productive crop to new areas. Techniques that can help to overcomes climatic vulnerability are proper irrigation and, provided they can be economically and scientifically improved, "greenhouse" cropping hydroponics, and nutrient film techniques. Optimization of inputs into crop production and modeling of input/output ration will be greatly facilitated by systematic exploitation of the rapidly advancing electronic data evaluation and processing techniques. Rising agricultural production and increased mingling of agriculture with densely populated non-agricultural areas will a centuate problems of agricultural wastes. These problems must be overcome through technical and economic progress in agricultural recycling procedures.
It is evident from the above comments that now, even more than in the past, chemical research objectives in crop production must be closely correlated with changes and advances in agronomic practices and techniques.
Perceivable and potential development in crop production technologies as dictated by accentuating environmental constraints.
Crop production technique
Soil erosion, soil degradation Mixed cropping, including inter-, cover-, for example)
Conservation tillage (reduced or no tillage) (sedimentation, desertification, salinization, and avenue-cropping
Minimum irrigation: for example, drip or trickle irrigation and "chemigation"
Energy costs (shortage)
Energy farming, including silviculture Integrated pest management, including increased biological control
Environment contamination Climatic vulnerability
"Greenhouse" cropping Hydroponics, nutrient film technique"Systems" agriculture, including electronic monitoring, data evaluation, and input control
Pakistan is a semi-arid and arid country with 68 mha of the land area lying in the regions, receiving 150-350 mm of annual rainfall. These zones constitute about 80% of the country's total area. Most of the population in the country has to derive its livelihood from these arid and semi-arid areas. The arid and semi-arid areas being a potential resource, have been depleted due to mismanagement and misuse. Arid lands of Pakistan include parts of pothwar and salt range (rainfall 500 mm), Thal, Cholistan and D.G.Khan (rainfall less than 200 mm), Tharparkar (rainfall 200 mm), Kohistan (rainfall about 175 mm) and Quetta Klat (rainfall 250 mm). Nearly 60% of the country consists of mountainous terrains and elevated plateaus. The rest of this, it is of low land, generally below 300 meters in elevation.
Out of the total land area of 79.61 ma, about 20.4 mha is cultivated. Of the total land area of 20.6 mha of the Punjab 56% or l1.58 mha is cultivated. The Punjab barani tract comprises 3.2 mha out of which 1.68 mha is purely rainfed, and the rest is water supply. Similarly, of the total land area of 14.1 mha of Sindh, nearly 39% or 5.45 mha is cultivated while 44% of its cultivated areas is rainfed. The total area of Balochistan is 34.7 mha, out of which only 4% or 1.47 mha are cultivation while 60% of the cultivated area is rainfed. In NWFP, its total land area comprises of 10.2 mha, out of which nearly 19% or 1.93 mha are cultivated. Pakistan, like many other countries, is facing immense problems of desertification and has three active sandy regions: Thal (2.4 mha), Thar (2.8 mha) and Cholistan (1.8 mha).
In arid and semi-arid areas of Pakistan, a single crop system of a Rabi or a Kharif crop is generally followed but, where rainfall patterns permit, a winter crop may be followed by a summer crop. Wheat continues to be the single largest crop in the dry land agriculture. The dry land wheat contributes 10% of the total national wheat production, which is higher than the total wheat production in NWFP or Balochistan and is 67% that of Sindh and 14% that of Punjab, which contributes 74% of the total wheat production in the country. The rangelands, which constitute about 68% area of the country, provide forage for 30% of cattle and baffaloes, and 75% of the sheep and goats, of the country. If properly developed and judiciously exploited could support a livestock industry of substantial size.
About 3 million people are directly dependent on range resources for grazing their livestock which is suffering from poor health, malnutrition, poor breeding programmes and inefficient marketing system. These issues need immediate attention of the policy makers. Again the depleted range lands due to overgrazing and mismanagement need to be improved by deferred and rotational grazing, control of undesirable species, range reseeding, planting leaf forage trees, shrubs, grasses and following silvi pastoral system. Various programmes to tackle the aforesaid livestock and range constraints be implemented through community participation approach and monitored effectively to evaluate their impact and timely action to remove any constraint. There is urgency in agricultural sector to boost up the agricultural productivity in the country, therefore, it is necessary to find out the factors responsible for increasing crop growth as well as deficiency syndrome responsible for decreasing growth.
The main factors for increasing crop productivity as well as the reasons for low productivity of different crops are:
THE FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR INCREASING GROWTH: Bringing new land under cultivation; ploughing of land in a befitting manner; land levelling for efficient use of water; balanced fertilizer application, types, methods of use in right proportion and at right time; introduction of high yielding and resistant varieties; good quality certified seed; use of improved seed; timely sowing; use of weedicides to weed control; use of pesticides and right plant protection techniques; cropping systems and multiple cropping; water regimes, expansion of irrigation, adequate quantity of water; agricultural extension services; post harvest techniques; skill and knowledge of production technology; management of inputs, larger labour inputs resulting in better tillage operation; education and extension training services; strictly following the crop calendar; optimum plant protection; and
REASONS FOR LOW PRODUCTIVITY ARE: Although the country has abundant natural resources capable of substantially higher agricultural production than that at present, there are several major development constraints - biological, economical and social, which limit production.
MAJOR BOTTLENECKS CAUSING DECLINE IN CROP PRODUCTION ARE: High population growth rate; very low man-land ration of cultivated land, which is about 0.59 acres per capita; poor methods of seed bed preparation; poor methods of planting seed at optimum time; shortage of water for irrigation; non-availability of seed of improved varieties and distribution system; late sowing; delay in cultural operation; loss of good cultivated land due to water logging and salinity; periodic occurrence of floods and droughts; non-availability of inputs close to farms; vagaries of weather; cultural practices, imbalanded fertilizers. weed effect, insufficient trained personal; shortage of skilled labour; widespread prevalence of insect pests and plant diseases losses; post harvesting losses; poor quality of research and extension services; no proper education and organization of farmers; distance between farmers and irrigation officials; diminishing professionalism and sense of responsibility; lack of commitment and will among the irrigation hierarchy; frequent transfer of officials; unhealthy union activities; too much political activities; political influence of feudal lords, wadaras, chaudhuries etc.; failure of electricity at peak water requirement of standing crops or when growing period sets in which brings substantial reduction in yield; untimely irrigation; non-availability of fertilizers; lack of well-organized germplasm introduction centre; and absence of well-equipped, properly staffed and funded national research institutes for major agricultural commodities/scientific disciplines.
In order to significantly increase agricultural productivity within a short period, top priority will have to be given to rectify the deficiencies and weaknesses in the prevalent production system. These two above mentioned phenomena, one should follow in order to improve the agricultural production of the country.