There were three pieces of good news for Pakistani farmers
recently. First, on May 20, the World Bank approved $ 61
million worth of interest-free, long-term credit for the
On-Farm Water Management Project in Sindh to support the
Pakistan government in helping farmers to increase
agricultural productivity through improvement in the
management of water resources and irrigation, including the
lining of 4,000 watercourses to reduce the wastage of water.
Second, on May 21, at a meeting in Beijing between Minister of
State for Food, Agriculture and Livestock Sikandar Hayat Khan
Bosan and Chinese Minister for Agriculture Du Qinglin, China
agreed to provide Pakistan with technical assistance to
improve crop yields and develop high-yield hybrid varieties of
rice and cotton.
Third, at the same meeting, the Chinese minister noted that
his government had already issued a quarantine certificate
allowing the import of Pakistani mangoes and said that China
was also interested in importing other food products from
Pakistan, including kinoos, dates and rice.
It has been estimated that as much as 50 per cent of
irrigation water is lost through seepage in unlined
watercourses by the time it reaches the tail end farmers in
many parts of Sindh. Lining the watercourses will help to
significantly reduce the loss, though some losses will still
occur due to evaporation, especially during Sindh’s hot
The Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA), a
provincial government agency under the control of the Sindh
Agriculture Department, which manages some of the
watercourses, now needs to get cracking with the lining of the
watercourses on a priority basis. In order to meet the full
cost of the $ 91 million On-Farm Water Management Project,
however, the Sindh government will have to find another $ 30
million from somewhere.
The money could come from the federal government, as part of
its contribution to Sindh’s development budget in fiscal
2004-05 and 2005-06. Alternatively, SIDA could be authorised
to make up the $ 31 million shortfall through the sale of
bonds, like other government organisations, including WAPDA
and PIA, have been permitted to do in the past.
Improving crop yields is another key issue facing Pakistan’s
An international survey of sugarcane growing countries carried
out a few years ago found that while Pakistan was ranked 6th
in the world in terms of the acreage under sugarcane
plantation, it was only18th in the world in terms of the total
tonnage of sugarcane produced.
The reason for this was the low per-acre yield of the
sugarcane varieties grown in Pakistan. The survey showed that
Hawaii, for instance, had an average sugarcane yield
equivalent to 1,800 maunds per acre, Cuba had an average yield
of 900 maunds per acre, but Pakistan had an average yield of
only 350 maunds per acre. The need to improve this country’s
sugarcane yields is therefore self-evident.
Citrus yields in Pakistan are also low, a problem compounded
by the fact that the peak citrus-harvest season here last only
about 90 days. By contrast, in Florida it lasts about 180 days
- twice as long as in Pakistan. Florida has been able to
achieve a longer peak-harvest season by developing early- and
late-ripening varieties of citrus.
This longer season also helps citrus juice factories in
Florida to achieve a higher output per juice-extraction
machine, because their extractors are able to work for twice
as long as those in Pakistani factories.
The Florida factories are also able to earn higher profits per
extractor than factories in Pakistan, because the Florida
factories are able to spread out their per-extractor fixed
costs (such as interest payments on machinery loans and
working capital loans) over twice the output of equivalent
extractors in Pakistani factories.
Courtesy : The News