AGRO-BASED PRODUCE & EXPORT SCENARIO

DR.S.M.ALAM
Sep 17 - 23, 2007

Presently, the production of all food grains stand at agriculture still continues to be a predominant and the single largest sector of the national economy and it has nearly always accounted for over 23 per cent of the net GDP of Pakistan. The sector at present employs over 18 million workers out of 45.05 million, who represent 43.5% of the total work force, serves as the biggest supplier of raw materials to industry as well as market for industrial products and also contributes substantially to country's export earnings. The total exports stand at 14.41 billion US dollars for the year 2004-2005. The export items are cotton, textiles, rice, fruits, seafood, including leather items, sports goods, carpets, handicrafts etc. The government has designated 'Agriculture' as the engine of national economic growth and poverty reduction. About 70% of population resides in rural areas. The major sources of their earning are agriculture and other small scale rural enterprises, which directly or indirectly depend on agriculture. About 65% exports are agro-based. This is mainly due to the presence of vast agricultural resources which are mainly due to the country's geographical and landscape where Pakistan is blessed with fertile land and varied weather. In addition the country has well organized irrigated system with the result that all types of agriculture produce are depending upon the climate and soil quality condition. However, it is experiencing the problem of low and stagnant crop productivity on the one hand and fast burgeoning population on the other hand. Despite many natural gifts, Pakistan is not in a happy position as far as its food position is concerned, because the per hectare yields of its major crops are low and far below their production potential.

Pakistan's major crops are wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, grams, maize, jowar, barley, bajra and tobacco. Whereas wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane account for 91 per cent of value added in major crops. Among the minor crops the most important are fruits and vegetables, followed by pulses and oilseeds. The country grains surplus are of rice and cotton. The exportable surplus cotton fluctuates but it has mostly been meeting the requirements of the local textile industry. To meet food deficit particularly in the case of edible oil, the country has to continuously depend on imports and its imports currently represent 69% domestic consumption. Livestock accounts for almost 35 per cent. Fisheries and forestry currently make up about 4 per cent of the GDP. Agriculture sector was targeted to grow 4.3% in 2004-05 based on the assumption of cotton output of 14.2 million bales, wheat production of 21.6 million tons, rice production of 5.02 million tons, and sugarcane at 50.7 million tons. The estimates of 1999-2000 suggest that the agriculture has registered a growth of 5.5%. More specifically major crops registered a growth of 9.6% and minor crops grew by 2.7%

Total Gross National Product (GNP) is US$ 136 billion and the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is US$ 115 billion, while the GDP growth rate is 6.4 per cent. The total export income is about $15.27 billion which comes through exporting cotton, textiles, rice, leather items, sports goods, carpets, fruits, handicraft and sea-food. Similarly, the total import expenditure is about US$ 28.50 billion by importing industrial equipment, vehicles, iron ore, petroleum, edible oil etc. The country's per capita income is US$925.

In the present day of agriculture, considerable diversification has occurred in the economy of Pakistan as this sector has been contributing about 6 per cent to the national income. In fact, industrial, transport and communication and energy sectors have also expanded. Textile, sugar and many other industries mainly depend on this sector directly or indirectly for raw materials. It also happens to be the biggest source of foreign exchange earning by serving as a base for major industries. Pakistan is endowed with diverse climates, fertile land and one of the best canal irrigation systems of the world. Large varieties of crops are cultivated throughout the year, including wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane which account for 91 percent of the value-added in major crops. Minor crops including oil seed, pulses and vegetables account for 12.4 per cent of the value-added in overall agriculture. The sustainability of agriculture depends on the prudent use of natural resources and careful considerations of environment. Our natural resource base like land and water is under great stress by getting worse with the growing population. It is now necessary that cereal production should be increased by at least 40 per cent over the next 25 years to meet needs for food, livestock feed and fiber crops. Similarly, production of all other major food products shall have to be increased to meet the subsequent demand. The per capita agricultural land continues to shrink and land resources are increasingly depleting. The continuing problem of salinity and deforestation has become a menace.

Pakistan like many developing countries of the world is faced with the problem of low agricultural productivity. In spite of the fact that our country is blessed with a galaxy of climate, soil condition and irrigation water. The country is totally dependent on agriculture for the supply of food and fiber. Therefore, it is imperative to increase food and fiber production to cope up not only with ever growing requirements of the country, but also for the sake of foreign exchange earnings and to attain self-sufficiency. Rapid agricultural growth can stimulate and thus sustain the pace of industrial growth, thus setting into motion a mutually reinforcing process of sustained economic growth. Apart from the sectors immediate economic contribution it also has indirect linkages with various parts of the economy. Any change in agricultural productivity, therefore, sends a ripple effect throughout the rural population of Pakistan. It provides food, feed and raw materials for major industries, such as textile, sugar and to several other medium and small-scale industries which account for about 50 percent of total value of industrial production.

It has been noted that yields of crop in Pakistan are comparatively lower than those of agriculturally advanced countries. The general problems associated with agriculture of this region are scarcity of water, floods, water logging, alkalinity, soil erosion, low yield per unit area, low yield per acre unit and traditional and old methods of cultivation, quality of inputs, pests and disease attacks. There is an immense need to bring an improvement by strengthening the research programs for the best utilization of already existing resources. Research programs should include evolution of high yielding varieties showing maximum potential for various climatic and soil conditions. New varieties may be evolved which should be fertilizer responsive, and can grow well under right moisture supply conditions and are resistant to pests and diseases. All these parameters determine that agriculture still have a predominant role in future to produce earnings to meet rapidly increasing local food demand and to increase foreign exchange earnings by commodity export. Researchers may make further effort to enhance protein contents of cereals and other edible crops so as to overcome the problem of protein deficiency as most of the people in country fall in average income groups of the population, who cannot afford to consume the much needed but costly animal proteins.

It has been noted that the fertility of good soil is decreasing day by day due to intensive cropping in order to fulfill the needs of rapidly growing population. To maintain the fertility status of soils in order to supply adequate nutrients for plants, application of different fertilizers is recommended by the agriculturist scientists. Like in many other parts of the world, salinity and water logging are the major constraints limiting crop production in Pakistan. Of the 22.2 mha of the total cultivable land, 6.32 mha are salt-affected. Soil salinity may be robbing Pakistan of about 25% of its potential production of major crops. A major part of salt-affected soils (about 3.5 mha) are presently cultivated to rice, wheat, cotton, and sugarcane, rape seed and other crops with substantial reduction in yield. Water is a unique natural resource.

In Pakistan, conservation and management of water supplies is crucial as the demand for water continues to rise because of burgeoning population. As Pakistan's agriculture is predominantly irrigated, water is one of the most limiting constraints for agricultural production. Water shortage is a major factor impeding growth of the, agricultural sector. Fluctuations in weather conditions, deficient in storage capacity and poor use of available water, culminate in water acting as a major constraint to agricultural growth. A substantial amount of water is also lost annually due to water management inefficiency. Water losses are estimated to be approximately 25 percent from the canal head to the outlet and another 15 percent from the outlet to the farm gate mainly due to poorly linked canals and watercourses.

The most basic constraint in the development of agriculture in our country is inadequate irrigation supplies, widespread occurrence of water logging and salinity and low level of modern farm inputs. Inadequate water supplies have resulted in low" cropping intensities and are moreover responsible for low yield. Pakistan is blessed by nature with fertile lands, network of rivers, sunshine, versatile climate, and vast potential of agricultural production. The country's major agricultural areas lie within the smooth plains formed naturally by mighty Indus River since time immemorial and its several tributaries such as Kabul, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej, which flow in southwardly directions, finally enter into a single stream and flowing into Arabian Sea near Karachi. However, due to mismanagement of water resources, inadequate drainage systems, poor performance of existing irrigation and drainage systems, the agricultural production is far below its potential. At present, only 16.5 million hectares are under canal irrigation being fed by Tarbella, Mangla and Chashma reservoirs, 22 barrages, 12 inter-river link canals and 48 main canals. Water available at the farm gate after accounting, farm losses and run off has increased from 50 MAF in 1961-62 to 101 MAF in 1988-89. Estimates show that about 60 percent of water is lost during conveyance through canals distributions and water courses. Water available from tube wells through groundwater pumpage amounts to 46 MAF. So, the total water available for 22.5 mha land is 144 MAF of which 97 percent is used in agriculture and the remaining 3 percent for domestic and industrial purposes. Out of 144 MAF around 106 MAF is annually diverted into one of the largest irrigation system.

Agricultural sector of Pakistan is usually divided into four main sub-sectors: crops, livestock and fisheries. The crop sector accounts for about 65 percent of agriculture share in the GDP. Blessed with abundantly available national resources and favorable climate, Pakistan stands as an ideal place for crop, animal, forestry and fish production. Of these, crop sector accounts 69 percent of agriculture's GDP, while livestock accounts for 30 percent. Forestry and fisheries make up less than 2 per cent of the total. Agriculture is therefore, the leaching sector and backbone of our economy. There are two growing seasons of crops in Pakistan: Kharif and Rabi. In Kharif season, mostly rice, cotton, sugarcane, maize, etc. crops are grown, while in Rabi, the crops like wheat and vegetables are grown. Other crops grown in the country are bajra, jawar, barley, tobacco, sugar beet, guar, pulses, rape seed, mustard, groundnut, linseed, castor seed, onion, garlic, chillies, turmeric, ginger, potato, tomato. At present, the productions of cereal crops are: 27880 x 103 metric tons annually, while the domestic utilization of cereals are 25829 x 103 rn. tons.

WHEAT

Wheat is a major and most important food crop and a staple food of almost all Pakistan's population and occupies a central and pivotal position among food grains of the country. On an average each household spends about 17 per cent of its total food expenditure on wheat and wheat flour. It contributes 12.5 per cent to the value-added in the agriculture sector of the economy and accounts for nearly 38 per cent of the total cultivated area, 30 per cent of the value-added by major crops and 76 per cent of the total production of food grains. In fact, the most remarkable progress has been made in the improvement of wheat yields during the last few decades. Perhaps the most notable success was the development of short statured varieties, which under optimal conditions of fertility and water supply out yielded the tall traditional types. The availability of the irrigation water through canals mainly contributes to the growth and production of wheat. The average per acre yield of wheat is estimated between 20 and 25 mounds and above it needs an extra effort as well as natural supporting factors.

During the last 50 years, the new wheat varieties have been regularly evolved by various wheat breeding programs in the country. The Federal Committee on agriculture has estimated that the output of wheat crop is likely to touch 20.15 million tones, which will be sufficient to fulfill the country's requirement during 2004-2005. Pakistan stands within the ten wheat producing country in the world. Wheat is grown on an area of 83.25 million hectares with annual production of 22.1 million tons. However, the yield per hectare is low compared to other wheat producing countries of the world.

There is an urgent need to increase the yield of wheat per acre and that can be increased by the use of high yielding varieties, certified seed, fertilizers in right proportion, pesticides, adequate quantities of water, larger labor, input resulting in better tillage operations, and strictly following the crop calendar. This is only possible when the crop is property planted, at an optimum time, with an insuring optimum stand, and the required tilling. In addition, when adequate moisture and plant nutrients to sustain vigorous growth are available and when there is no major loss due to weed competition, disease attack or insect infestation. These factors are due to poor seed bed preparation, late sowing, quality of seed, inadequate and ill-time irrigation, fertilizer, weed competition, insect and disease control, cultural practices and harvesting losses. The timely measures help the farmers to increase wheat production. All this was the result of certain measures taken by the government as about 75 per cent of wheat are sown in irrigated area and 25 per cent in the rain-fed regions.

RICE

Rice is the second most important crop brings economic prosperity for the growers as well as earns billions of rupees through export. Pakistan fine rice commonly known as Basmati is world famous and enjoys monopoly in the international market, due to its quality characteristics, strong aroma, slender and long kernel, intermediate amylase content, gelatinization, temperature and high degree of grain elongation in cooking. However, the grain yield of basmati rice varieties is very low. In order to remain in the international market, we have to further improve the quality as well as yield of basmati varieties. Rice plays a pivotal role in the agro-based and occupies a conspicuous position in agricultural economy of Pakistan.

Rice occupies 11 per cent of the country's cropped area and contributes about 17 per cent on food grain production. Rice has been cultivated over an area of 2.51 million hectares with a production of 5.1m tons as estimated for the year 2003-2004. Punjab is the biggest producer of rice in the country and contributes 48 per cent to national production. All rice is irrigated and mainly transplanted. On an average, each household in Pakistan spends about 3.8 per cent of its total food expenditure on rice and rice flour. It is the second staple food and contributes more than 2 million tons to Pakistan's national food requirement.

In export, Rice is a source of foreign exchange earnings and in the year 2004-2005 about 2 million tons rice at worth Rs2.6 billion was exported. The contribution of basmati and coarse rice in rice exports was 54 and 46 per cent, respectively. After Thailand, Vietnam, United States and India, Pakistan is the fifth largest rice-exporting country in the world. Despite the prime position of rice in the national economy and world market, the average yields in Pakistan are discouragingly low being only 2.7 tons/ha in comparison with 3.92, 2.98, 6.58, 6.34 and 8.91 tons/ ha of India, USA, China and Egypt, respectively.

COTTON

Cotton and its produce is obtained in the shape of seed cotton and cotton lint. Cotton is the second most important cash crop of our country after wheat, in terms of area and value-addition. It is a creditable source of valuable foreign exchange for the country with an annual production of 14.1 million bales. Accounting for over sixty per cent of Pakistan's foreign exchange earnings, cotton is the country's most vital economic asset. During 1991, Pakistan ranked third after China and the US, in production and was the first in cotton export. The highest yield achieved in Pakistan was 12.28 million bales in 1991-92. The cotton grown in the world is on 34369 x 103 hectares with the production of 2711 x 103 m. tons with an average yield of 574 kg/ha. Other major growing countries are India (87 x 105 ha production, 2711 x 103 m. tons and yield 312 kg/ha); USST (545 x 103 ha production, 397 x 104 m. tons and yield 729 kg/ha); China (50 x 106 ha production, 4 x 106 m. tons and yield 800 kg/ha); Pakistan (3253 x 103 ha production, 1859 x 103 m. tons and yield 572 kg/ha); Turkey (72 x 104 ha production, 798 x 103 m. tons and yield 1108 kg/ha); Egypt (374 x 105 ha production, 338 x 103 m. tons and yield 901 kg/ha); Australia (37 x 104 ha production, 577 x 103 m. tons and yield 1560 kg/ha); Syria (222 x 105 ha production, 227 x 103 m. tons and yield 1023 kg/ha).

In Pakistan, cotton crop is cultivated in the southern Punjab and Sindh. It brings cash returns to the farmers, supplies raw materials to the textile industry and provides employment in both the rural and the urban areas, cotton is the major textile fiber used by man. It is also providing livelihood to over 5 million people at the farm and industry and trade, furnishes raw material for 1035 ginneries and 445 textile mills and 650 oil expelling units. Cotton is a major summer crop and planted in March/April in Sindh and picking is done in September and in upper Sindh and Punjab, sowing is carried out between May and June, while the picking period extends from October to January. Cotton picking is done entirely by women. The time of sowing is so adjusted that the young seedlings escape the early summer heat as much as possible. The climate of lower Sindh is milder than that of upper Sindh and the Punjab. II sown on nearly 3 million hectares, contributing 29 per cent to the value-added by major crops, thus, is grown on about 12 per cent of the cropped area which is higher than any other cash crop. Cotton in Pakistan is mostly grown on the alluvial plains of the Indus basin. Cotton is grown on loamy soil, and requires a minimum temperature of 25oC and a maximum of 35oC. Cotton needs 5-6 watering, 24 inches from flat fields and 16 for ridge cultivation and 6-7 pesticide sprays depending on the intensity of pest infestation. It competes directly with rice in those areas where both crops can be cultivated. Cotton in combination with winter crops also competes indirectly with sugarcane as the latter occupies land resources round the year. The yield of cotton in the Punjab which contributes nearly 82 per cent in the total production ranged from 470 to 602 kg/ha.

The export items of cotton include cotton yarn, cotton cloth, cotton thread, tents and other canvas goods, bed wear, towels, textile madeups, raw cotton , cotton waste etc .The total export items of cotton go up to3655 x 103 eons with earning amount of Rs. 321938 million. This figure is for the year 2004-05.

SUGARCANE

In Pakistan, sugarcane is grown in three soils and climate zones, the tropical Sindh, the sub-tropical Punjab and the temperate Peshawar valley of NWFP. It is cultivated successfully in tropical area between 25oN and 28oS latitude, mostly around the equator but nowadays it can also be grown well in sub-tropical areas, where summer temperatures favor this crop and irrigation facilities are available. Sugar cane is an important cash crop of Pakistan. It ranks fourth in average cultivation after wheat, rice and cotton. It is the mainstay of the sugar industry. Sugarcane and sugars are the important sources of income and offer employment to the farming community as well as the urban population of the country. Sugar industry of Pakistan is second to textiles. Sugarcane was cultivated on an area of over 1000 thousand hectares during the current fiscal year. In order to enable the country to be self-sufficient in sugar, a minimum area of 1.150 million hectares should remain under cane cultivation, which can produce 50.1 million tones at an average yield of 49 tons/ha as estimated for 2004-2005. It has been observed that area, production and yield per hectare of sugarcane has increased remarkably since the inception of Pakistan, but it is a matter of great concern, that yield per hectare and sugar recovery is very low as compared with other sugarcane growing countries of the world. In Pakistan, the yield of sugarcane is very low as compared to other sugarcane producing countries of the world. Variety is the pre-requisite and major requirement for crop improvement. Sugarcane growers are always interested in the cultivars that offer more tonnage, while miller is more conscious of quality.

At present, sugar industry consists of 78 units -32 in Sindh; 40 in the Punjab and 6 in NWFP. These mills crushed 29 million tons sugarcane and produced about 2.4 million tons of sugar. Sugar production in Sindh has been above one million tones with maximum at 1.374 million tons devoting a surplus of about half a million tons. Based on 160 days season, these sugar mills have a total crushing capacity of 60 million tons of sugarcane capable to produce 5 million tones of refined sugar and 3 million of molasses. It is grown on an area of 1.12 million hectares. The average production is 46 tons/hectare. The per capita consumption of sugar in the country is about 26 kg.

LIVESTOCK

Livestock is the second important sector of agriculture. While the share of agriculture in GDP declined from 26 in 1986-87 to 24 per cent in 2004-05, the share of livestock went up from eight to 11.4 percent during the same year. In other words, the share of livestock in agriculture increased from 30 to 48 percent. Its foreign exchange earnings increased to Rs53 billion in 2003-04 which is 12.34 per cent of the total national export earnings as compared to its share of 5.3 per cent in 2001-02, Currently, by supporting agriculture, the livestock sector contributes about 49 per cent to the GDP. Despite the negligence of livestock sector, its share in GDP and that of agriculture as well as export earnings increased. Within rural households, livestock activities generate additional income for households, in which nearly 35-40 million people in rural areas are involved in this sector. Production of poultry has also accelerated in recent years with almost every rural family and one in every five urban families being involved in poultry production activities. The most important livestock in the country are buffalo, cattle, sheep, goat, camel, donkey, horse, cow, hare, ass, mule and poultry. Livestock provides draught power, manure to farming system and milk products to households. Livestock being one of the important sub-sectors of agriculture assume a pivotal position in the whole economic strategy of Pakistan. It covers about 38 percent of the agricultural value-added and in providing directly or indirectly employment to about 50 per cent of the population and 8.3 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP). Besides, being a source of milk, beef, mutton, meet, and eggs, wool, hair, bone, fat and blood livestock provides draught power for agricultural operations and industrial raw materials.

Livestock is the major economic activity of small and landless farmers, tenants, sedentary, nomadic and transhumance herders for their survival. The major buffaloes breeds are Nili-Ravi and Kundi, while Sahiwal, and Red Sindhi are the dominant milk breeders. Of the draught cattle Bhagnari and Dajal are heavy breeds. Dhani and Lohani are medium, Rohani and Rojan are light breeds, while Thari is a dual breed both for milk and draught purposes. In the year 2004, the domestic livestock population is estimated is 24.8 million buffaloes, 23.3 million cattle, 24.6 million sheep, 52.8 million goats, 0.8 million camels, 0.32 million horses, 0.2 million mules, 4,0 million donkeys and poultry 184.6 million. For the year 2005, they produce 27611 x 103 tones milk, 1069 x 103 tones beef, 702 x 103 tones mutton, 372 x 103 tons poultry meat, 39.7 x 103 tons wool, 19.9 x 103 tones hair, 348.0 x 103 tons bones, 129 x 103 tons fats, 8,677 million eggs, 8.2 million hides, 40.2 million skins and 44.0 x 103 tons blood. It is evident from the above discussion that there was significant increase in livestock products such as milk, beef, mutton, poultry meat and eggs. But inspite of significant increase in milk production mostly due to increase in the number of buffaloes, cattle and milk breeds of goats and sheep, the import of milk and milk products increase from Rs 226 million in 1978-79 to RS 770 million in 2004-2005.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Pakistan experiences different climatic conditions in its different regions, which provides it with a unique opportunity of growing fruits and vegetables all year round. Each region of Pakistan is growing particular kinds of fruits. The horticultural sector has the potential of contributing significantly to the income of farmers and export incomes of Pakistan. A different kind of fruits are grown in the country, i.e. citrus, mango, banana, apple, guava, apricot, peach, pears, plums, grapes, pomegranate, dates, almonds. Citrus is a prized fruit and holds number one position among all fruits both in production and export. The areas of all the fruits in Pakistan are 872.4 x 103 hectares with a total production of 5891.7 x 103 tons, annually. The vegetables grown in the country are: lady finger, carrot, radish, onion, tomato, potato, garlic, cauliflower, brinjal, peas, beans, cucumber, turnip, pumpkin, green chilies, ball pepper, kakri, ginger, cabbage, spinach, kulfa etc.

The export of fruits was 206 x 103 tons with an income of 4,202 million rupees for the year 2004-05. Similarly, the export of vegetables were 85-5 million tons with income of 1,197 milliomn rupees.

Poultry: Poultry farming is an agro-based industry. It supplies meat through out the year. The exportable items are day old chicks and hatching eggs. In 2003-04, Pakistan earned 5.06 million dollars in foreign exchange by exporting day old chicks and accessories.

FISHERIES

The fishery sector contributes a small percentage to GDP but a large per cent to the export sector through its exports of shrimp and fish. According to the Economic Survey for 2003-2004, fisheries share in the country. GDP, though very small, contributes substantially to the national income through export earnings. During the period July-March 2003-04, 101,256 tons valued at Rs.7.9 billion fish and fishery products were said to have been exported to Japan, the USA, UK, Germany, Middle East, Sri Lanka, China etc. thus, generating substantial amount of foreign exchange. Everybody knows that fish production is an important source of protein and income through export, and employment of the manpower. The total number of persons engaged in fisheries during 2003-04 is estimated at 395,000 persons (31.5 per cent) were engaged in the marine sector and 270,000 (68.4 per cent) in inland fisheries. Persons engaged in fisheries sector in 2002-03 numbered 365,000 -138,000 (37 per cent) in marine and 227,000 (62.2 per cent) in inland fisheries. The per capita consumption of animal protein in the country is very low and it is only about 7.9 kilograms per person per year. It has been reported that in Balochistan coastal area the catch is lower than the coast of Sindh. Balochistan's share in the total output with a 770 km long fishing area was around 130,000-150,000 tons. A large portion of fish catch us processed in various forms. The methods are freezing, canning and reductions to fishmeal. Almost all the frozen and canned fishery products are exported, while only about 25 per cent processed fishmeal is exported and remaining is consumed locally in the manufacture of poultry feed and other edible items. Similarly, about 45 per cent of the total fish productions are utilized in the production to fishmeal, 35 per cent, marketed as fresh fish and for local consumption.

Pakistan consists of the Indus watershed system, dams, barrages, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, canal and disused canals. The names of some important fishing crafts used in catching fish from marine land and inland waters are: sail boats, rowboats, mechanical-cum-sail boats, trawlers, and gill-netters. The population of fishermen and the number of boats- mechanized and mechanized-cum sail boats is low and they are not using the latest methods for fish catching plus there is no proper cold storage and refrigeration facility on their boats, a basic requirement to preserve the seafood. Despite all this, the continental shelf in Balochistan ranges between 10-15 kilometers whereas in Sindh it is as long as 70 kilometers. There are only two harbors in Balochistan, Pasni and Gwadar, but the infrastructure of these harbors not according to international standards. It is very encouraging to note that now in Balochistan eight seafood processing plants are working and out of this four units have been set up after the construction of the Coastal Highway.