PROF. DR. S.M. ALAM
Mar 1 - 7, 2010
Pakistan's principal natural resources are arable land, water, mineral, and various crops. About 25% of Pakistan's total land area is under cultivation and is watered by one of the largest irrigation systems in the world. The irrigated lands in Pakistan are three times more than that in Russia.
Agriculture continues to be a prominent sector of the economy and it accounts for over 20% of the GDP of Pakistan. The sector at present employs over 17 million workers, who represent 42% of workforce. About 68% of population are living in the rural areas. About 65% exports from the country are agro-based. Agricultural production is dominated by grain productions, which directly or indirectly depend on agriculture.
Agriculture is very important for Pakistan. It helps the country in the development of the economy. Every country has a vast land, which is used for agriculture. Pakistan is an agricultural country. Its total area is 7, 96,096 square kilometers. 70% of country's total population is living in the villages. The major source of their livelihood is agriculture. Agriculture employed 66% of the total workforce in 1950-51 but by 2006-2007 this figure dropped to 47.3%. This shows that people are now not interested in farming. They are doing jobs in industry and other fields. They are leaving farming and migrated to cities because cities have more chances of jobs. There are more factories and more development project offices. So, people move from villages and settle in the cities. In Pakistan, the best area for agriculture is Punjab. Its soil is very fertile and its irrigation system is very fine. Its total area is equal to quarter of the total area for Pakistan. But it has 57% of the total cultivated land. Pakistan has two main crops, which are Kharif and Rabi. Kharif crops grow in summer while Rabi crops grow in winter.
The most important food crops in Pakistan are as following.
1. Wheat: Wheat is a major need of our country. It is grown on a large area. This crop is sown in October and November and harvested in April and May.
2. Rice: Pakistan produces over 5.9 million tons of rice.
3. Maize: Maize is a Kharif crop that grows in warm places.
4. Millet: This crop can grow even in poor soils.
5. Pulses: Pulses are good source of protein.
The most important cash crops in Pakistan are as following.
1. Cotton: Cotton forms a leading export from the country. Pakistan produces 10.8 billions bales of cotton a year.
2. Tobacco: Tobacco is also an important cash crop. The best tobacco growing areas are in Mardan and Peshawer.
3. Livestock: Most of the milk comes from the buffaloes. A cow produces almost a million tons of milk a year.
Pakistan is one of the world's largest producers and suppliers of different agro produces. The country's agro produces world ranking by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 2005 were: chickpea (2nd), apricot (4th), cotton (4th), Sugarcane (4th), milk (5th), onion (5th), date palm (6th), mango (7th), mandarin orange (8th), rice (8th), wheat (9th), and oranges (10th).
Pakistan ranks 5th in the Muslim world and twentieth worldwide in farm output. It is the world's 5th largest milk producer. The most important crops are wheat, sugarcane, cotton, and rice, which together account for more than 75% of the value of total crop outputs. Pakistan's largest food crop is wheat.
In 2009, Pakistan produced 23,591,400 metric tons of wheat, more than all of Africa (20,304,585 metric tons) and nearly as much as all of South America (24,557,784 metric tons).
At partition, Pakistan's water resources were at 5000 cubic meter per capita. The number went below 1500 cubic meter per capita and further reduced to less than 1000 cubic meter per capita mark, officially termed water stress limit. Over 90% of country's water is used in agricultural sector and remaining is needed for drinking and for other activities.
Pakistan exports rice, cotton, fish, fruits (especially oranges and mangoes), and vegetables and imports vegetable oil, wheat, cotton, pulses and consumer foods. The country has Asia's largest camel market, second-largest apricot and ghee markets and third-largest cotton, onion and milk markets.
Agriculture serves as a major supplier of raw materials to industrial products and also contributes substantially to country's export earning. This is mainly due to the presence of vast agricultural resources, which are mainly due to the country's geographical location and landscape. Pakistan is blessed with fertile land and varied weather. In addition the country has well irrigated system and all types of agriculture produces are grown there depending upon the climate and soil quality conditions. However, the country is experiencing the problem of low and stagnant agro productivity on the one hand and fast growing population on the other hand.
According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan, the livestock sector contributes about half of the value added in the agriculture sector, amounting to nearly 11% of GDP, which is more than the crop sector. According to one report, the national herd consists of 24.2 million cattle, 27.3 million buffaloes, 24.9 million sheep, 56.7 million goats and 0.8 million camels. In addition to these, there is a vibrant poultry sector in the country with more than 530 million birds produced annually. These animals produce 29.472 million tons of milk, 1.115 million tons of beef, 0.740 million tons of mutton, 0.416 million tons of poultry meat, 8.528 billion eggs, 40.2 thousand tons of wool, 21.5 thousand tons of hair and 51.2 million skins and hides.
Agriculture and related sectors' products comprise of major and minor crops, vegetables and spices, fruits, edible oils, livestock, milk, poultry, fisheries etc. Pakistan's major and minor food crops are wheat, rice, maize, jawar, bajra, and barley while its cash crops are sugarcane, cotton, sugar beet, and guar seed; pulses are gram, mung, masoor, matter; edible oilseeds are sesamum, groundnut, soybean, sunflower, canola, and safflower.
The productions of some important crops for the year 2008 were (in 000 tons): wheat (22,109), rice (4,996), bajra (195), jawar (188), maize (2,279), barley (96), gram (761), sugarcane (45,316), cotton (2,488), tobacco (84), rapeseed and mustard (229), and sesamum (33).
Pakistan ranks fourth in worldwide sugarcane areas and twelfth in sugarcane production. The production of sugar is about 4.29 million tons from 77 mills.
Within agriculture, fruits, vegetables and floriculture have important impact on agricultural economy. The yearly production of fruits, vegetables and spices are 15 million tons. The productions of fruits include (in 000 tons): citrus (1,949), mango (1,079), dates (629), apples (389), banana (160), apricot (212), almonds (29), grapes (50), guava (579), peach (79), pears (38), plums (61), and pomegranate (57).
The horticulture products have huge exportable values. There is a high growth in exports of fruits and vegetables from the country due to ever increasing demand in the international markets. Some of fruits grown in the country have great potential for exports, which are available in volumes, varieties and rich flavors.
Prominent fruits with enormous export potential are plums, pears, guava, etc. Among vegetables, tomato potatoes, garlic, ginger and onions are vastly grown in the country, and hold a large global market because of competitive advantage due to superior variety, volume, and price.
The edible oil production in the country is 740000 tons (only 30% of total local demand). The imports of the oil are 1360000 tons and consumption is 2100000 tons. Pakistan spends a huge amount on oil import bill. The productions of vegetables (in 000 tons) are: tomato (426), potato (2025), onion (1,817), garlic (56), chilies (91), turmeric (38), and ginger (41).
Fishery plays an important role in the national economy. It provides employment to about 400,000 fishermen directly. In addition, another 500,000 people are employed in ancillary industries. It is also a major source of export earning. The productions of inland are 170000 tons and marine fish 404000 tons. The seafood and fishery products are chilled or frozen fish, fish meat and exported to different countries. Important food fish species are tuna, sailfish, marlins, and groupers, dolphin fish, catfish, and sharks. Some of these produce are shipped to Sri Lanka in dried form. Pakistan also produces huge quantity of shrimp.