WORLD POPULATION & AGRICULTURE

DR. S. M. ALAM & DR. M. A. KHAN
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Sep 12 - 18, 20
11

Modern research on the genetic structure of human populations suggests that nearly 15,000 years ago the world population was 15 million. The population by the time of Jesus (Isa) over 2000 years ago had increased to 250 million. On the eve of industrial revolution in the 18th century, world population had tripled to about 700 million. In the two centuries that followed, the global population increased at an annual rate of six per cent reaching 2.5 billion by 1950 and more than doubled at the next 50 years at the rate of 18 per cent to have reached six billion on the eve of 21st century. Although the growth rates are slowing, barring some demographic catastrophes the world population should reach nine billion by 2050.

The rate of population growth over the last century has been labeled as the underlying cause of the world standing on the brink of disaster. It is argued, we are running out of food to sustain such a growing population.

It is argued by the opponents of overpopulation that the huge growth in world population is responsible for poverty, environmental destruction and social unrest and that economic development in the third world is impossible as long as populations continue to grow.

A recent media report estimated the population of the world for the year 2011 (August) as world 6931 million, China (1340m), India (1210m), United States (313m), Russia (135m), Indonesia (246m), Brazil (203m), Japan (126m), Pakistan (187m), Bangladesh (151m), United Kingdom (63m), Australia (22m), Belgium (11m), France (66m), Germany (81m), Netherlands (17m), Mexico (114m), New Zealand (4.4m), Afghanistan (31m), Bhutan (0.7m), Chile (17m), Egypt (81m), Iran (78m), Libya (8.4m), Malaysia (28m), Mauritius (1.3m), Nepal (29m), North Korea (24m), Saudi Arabia (28m), South Korea (49m), Sri Lanka (21m), Thailand (67m) and UAE (8.3m).

In 1947, the population of Pakistan (west wing) was 31 million, and in 64 years this ballooned to 187 million and is expected to further escalate to 266 million in 2030.

In 1947, the populations of France, Germany, Japan, and South Korea were 49, 41, 68, 78, and 20 million, respectively. Today, they are 62, 63, 82, 127, and 49 million respectively. In 2030, they are projected to be 68, 66, 78, 117, and 49 million respectively. Overpopulation bomb puts an unbearable strain on the economy of Pakistan. At present, Pakistan is the 6th populous country in the world followed by China, India, USA, Brazil and Indonesia.

Pakistan's population is increasing day by day. Thus, there is a need to enhance the crop productivity, because agriculture is the single largest sector in Pakistan, which provides one-fourth of gross domestic product of the country. Foreign exchange earnings through the exports of processed and semi-processed products should be increased.

Agriculture employs about 44 per cent of labor force. A large proportion of population lives in the rural areas of the country and perform useful work on agricultural fields.

In this way, poverty alleviation would depend purely on the development and alleviation of agriculture sector. This condition forces the country to import certain food grains, tea, palm oil and some other items to fulfill the demand of the ever-growing population of the country.

The harmony and peace conditions must be prevailed in the country for rapid progress in every sector. The unprecedented growth in population will create tremendous pressures on the natural resource base.

The production and productivity of major crops in the country is far below the international average. The key problems associated with agriculture of our country are scarcity of water, choked watercourses, and excessive seepage. The cultivable lands are highly deficient in nutrients. Floods, water logging and salinity (nearly 40000 hectares of land is converting into salinity annually) are major problems.

Per hectare yield is another area that needs improvement through investment in the sector to achieve a higher level of technological advancement. The cereal grain yield kg per hectare (in 2009) in Pakistan was 2803. Thus on this key indicator we are better than India (2471), Russia (2279), Iran (2291), Afghanistan (1983), Nepal (2374) and Bhutan (1699), but lag behind as many as a dozen economies of the region including China (5460), Japan (5920), Brazil (3526), Indonesia (4813), Malaysia (3750), South Korea (3698), North Korea (7073), Thailand (2954), Sri Lanka (3722), and Saudi Arabia (5212).

Surprisingly, a centrally planned economy, North Korea has the highest per-hectare yield in the region 7073 kg. Belgium tops the list with a yield of 9632 kg followed by USA (7238), UK (7008), France (7460), Germany (7201), China (5460), Japan (5920) etc.

African countries like Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Niger etc. have low yield of less than 500 kg per hectare.

Of the total land areas, nearly 34 per cent of our land is agro-based while the percentage is 45 in USA, UK (73), Australia (54), France (53), Germany (48), China (56), Japan (13), India (60), Russia (13), Brazil (31), Bangladesh (71), Iran (27), Libya (9), Malaysia (20), Sri Lanka (42), Thailand (38) etc.

The percentage of population engaged in agricultural works in many countries of the world are (in percentage): USA (2.6), Russia (20), UK (2.3), China (63), Africa (72), Australia (7), Japan (14), Indonesia (66), Pakistan (70), Nepal (93), Indonesia (77), Thailand (60), Asia (61), and world (47).