By Khuda Bakhsh
and Dr. M. Ashfaq
Poverty in Pakistan, specially in its rural areas, is deep and
widespread. One effective way of fighting rural poverty is to
encourage vegetable cultivation. Vegetable cultivation would
engage rural labourers in different farming practices such as
sowing, weeding, hoeing, harvesting, packing, etc.
Moreover, vegetables are cheap sources of essential nutrients
like vitamin, protein, iron, etc. As vegetables constitutes a
small percentage (2 per cent) in total cultivated area in
Pakistan, little consideration is given to research work
relating to the use of inputs, new practices, etc.
In agriculture research is restricted only to major vegetables
while other vegetables are ignored. Vegetables like
cauliflower, carrot, turnip, and many others result in higher
returns per acre and they also involve labour intensive
Vegetable growers are facing production and marketing
constraints such as inadequate funds, non-availability of good
quality seeds, price fluctuations and inefficient marketing
Vegetables demand bigger labour force for various activities
which is not there. According to the findings of a research
conducted in Multan district, vegetables create more
employment opportunities as compared to cotton and wheat for
unemployed labour force, particularly for unskilled rural
people in a short period of time.
The results of the accompanying table shows that the most
labour intensive crop among the selected ones is cauliflower
employing 64.63 labour days per acre. Other important crops in
terms of total labour employed from sowing to marketing are
carrot, turnip, cotton and wheat.
While considering labour used by activity type, the most
labour absorbing activity in all vegetables is harvesting.
Labour used for harvesting/packing, storing, etc. is the
highest in cauliflower production, while cotton and wheat
crops require less labour as compared to vegetables.
Total number of labour days in crop management is the highest
for cauliflower and the lowest labour days are recorded for
wheat. Similarly, weeding/hoeing practices engage 9.19 labour
days in cauliflower, 6.64 labour days per acre in cotton and
only 0.61 labour days were recorded for wheat crop.
Labour used (labour days/acre) by activity type in vegetables,
wheat and cotton
* Crop management includes input application and preparations
of protective structures such as bund making, raised bed
The study showed that vegetable cultivation created more job
opportunities as compared to the cultivation of major crops
such as wheat and cotton. Rural labour force comprises mostly
They are unable to find jobs elsewhere and use of
capital-intensive technologies in the production of wheat and
cotton is also replacing unskilled labourers. In such
circumstances, various farm activities carried out during
vegetable production provide productive employment
opportunities to unskilled and replaced labourers.
Mostly, vegetables are being cultivated in the vicinity of
cities. Vegetables cultivation not only provides productive
employment opportunities to unemployed workers who are
unskilled and illiterate but also supplies food to the
labourers and other citizens living in the big cities.
Vegetable cultivation requires high investment and farmers
lack financial resources because the size of landholding is
mostly small. Private and public sectors should extend
financial help to the resource-poor farmers so that they could
be able to apply properf inputs and plant protection measures
in time. In this way, food security and unemployment problems
could be mitigated.