FOOD & AGRICULTURE
DR. S. M. ALAM
Sep 12 - 18, 2011
Agriculture is very important for Pakistan. It helps the country in the development of economy. The country has a vast land used for agriculture. About 70 per cent of our total population is living in villages. The major source of their living is agriculture.
Pakistan covers area of 796,096 square kilometers, more than the collective areas of Germany and Britain.
Presently, Pakistan's population is more than 186 million, which is more than the collective population of Germany and France.
Agriculture provides about 22 per cent of GDP. Pakistan has coastal area of 1050 kilometers. It has 10th largest labor force. It is the 4th largest agricultural state after China, America, and India.
Pakistan has the largest irrigation system in the world. More than 70 per cent of its earning comes from agriculture. Its major exports are cotton, rice and fruits and its major imports are edible oil, petroleum products, tea etc.
Pakistan's cultivated area is about 22.5 million hectares. The country produces cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, citrus, mango, milk, dates, etc.
Research shows that that the growth of agriculture sector is very effective in reducing poverty both in urban and rural areas of the country.
Agriculture sector employs over 17 million workers, who represent 42 per cent of the total workforce. About 68 per cent of population are living in the rural areas. About 65 per cent exports are agro-based.
Agricultural production is dominated by grain productions, which directly or indirectly depend on agriculture.
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 34 per cent of the total cultivated land. We have two main crops, which are Kharif crops and Rabi crops. Kharif crops grow in summer while Rabi crops grow in winter.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations, Pakistan's ranking in the world's agriculture production is: 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 overall farm outputs.
The most important crops are wheat, sugarcane, cotton, and rice, which together account for more than 75 per cent 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).
Fruits, vegetables and floricultures have important impact on agricultural economy. The annual production of fruits, vegetables and spices is more than 12 million tons.
The important fruits include (in 000 tons): citrus (2,348), mango (1,074), dates (622), apples (380), banana (158), apricot (206), almonds (23), grapes (49), guava (571), peach (70), pears (31), plums (61), and pomegranate (50). Some of the fruits grown have great potential for exports, which are available in volumes, varieties and are of rich flavor. These are mangoes, citrus, grapes, dates, apples, peaches, and cherries. Other prominent fruits with enormous export potential are plums, pears, guava, etc. Among vegetables, potatoes, garlic, ginger and onions are vastly grown in the country.
The edible oil production is 740,000 tons that meets only 25 per cent of total local demand. Pakistan spends a huge amount on oil imports.
Livestock is an important sector of agriculture, which accounts for 46 per cent of agricultural value added and about 10.8 per cent of the GDP. The livestock population is (in million numbers): buffalo (26.3), cattle (24.2), goat (56.7), sheep (24.9), poultry (366), camels (0.8), asses (4.2), horses (0.3), and mules (0.3).
In the similar, manner the livestock products are (in 000 tons): milk (31,051), beef (1,115), mutton (740) and fat (136.3). The dairy products are milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, powder milk, ice cream.
Food security is normally defined as a situation in which all households have both physical and economics access to adequate food for all citizens and where households are not at risk of losing such access throughout the year.
In a broader sense, it is composed of i) adequacy in food production, ii) complete stability and resource in food supplies in the markets, and iii) physical and economic access to food on the part of those who need it mostly, at the time of requirement.
It is a well documented fact that the major improvement in food availability is gained through the growth and enough production of agricultural commodities at the rate higher than the increase in population.
The per capita consumption of food items in the country is (in kg/capita/year): cereal 155, wheat 117, rice 20, pulses 8.08, edible oil 11.49, milk 121, sugar 27, mutton 1.44, beef 4.9, chicken 0.96, fish 0.72, fruits 15.7, vegetables 65.6, and sweeteners 17.7. T The per capita consumption is increasing significantly.
Conclusion: The general problems associated with agriculture of this region are scarcity of water, floods, water logging, soil erosion, low yield per unit area, low yield per acre unit, traditional methods of cultivation, pests, and disease attacks.
There is an immense need to bring an improvement in the sector by strengthening the research programs for the best utilization of 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.
Agriculture should play a predominant role in meeting local food demands and increasing foreign exchange earnings by commodity exports.