Sindh leads in farm
public perception of widespread inefficiencies, Sindh is
ahead of all other provinces including Punjab in farm
productivity. The average cotton yield has been recorded at
1320 kg per hectare in Sindh against 590 kg in Punjab, the
current data of last Kharif crop revealed.
The implications of the data were discussed at the meeting
of the federal committee on agriculture in Islamabad in
January, the federal secretary, ministry of food,
agriculture and livestock confirmed to Dawn.
The difference in wheat yield is not as stark though it was
reported to be higher in Sindh as compared to those in other
provinces. The returns on most other major and minor crops
grown in Sindh were also on the upper side. This has
happened in spite of comparatively weaker social indicators
and the quality of governance in the province. The public
service delivery is both inefficient and insufficient as
compared to that of Punjab.
Some years back, while evaluating the Structural Adjustment
Programme’s (SAP) performance in the country, a donor’s
survey found per unit utilisation of public funds and
donor’s spending in Sindh much below the nation’s average.
Punjab was projected to be the best governed province
assessed on the basis of its resource utilisation.
Besides, the asset base in rural economy of Sindh is
believed to be more skewed with big landholdings controlled
by a few feudal families. A lot has been written by agro
economists about marginalisation/exploitation of landless
farm labour in the province living in sub-human conditions.
The data on public healthcare system and education endorses
Another informal survey by this newspaper in 2006 confirmed
‘exclusion’ of the province from the high growth between
2003 and 2007. All cities excluding Karachi in Sindh slipped
in ranking conceding their position to towns of Punjab. If
rural Sindh is faring better it certainly demonstrates
enterprising skills of its farming community.
The question arises why Sindh farmers, who are poorer, less
educated and without proper healthcare facilities, are more
efficient than their counterparts in a province that is
assumed to be more resourceful and treading a natural path
“The higher agriculture productivity of Sindh is both
interesting and intriguing. It is hard for me to comment
without timeline of comparative province-wise data. From
experience in the field, I can tell that the trend has
become more pronounced in recent years as people became
aware of dividends of investment in technology and better
quality inputs. This is despite the fact that Punjab
provides more facilities to their farmers,” Mehmud Nawaz
Shah, President of Sindh Abadgar Board, told this writer
Courtesy: The DAWN
Junaid Iqbal, federal secretary ministry of food,
agriculture and livestock, attributed higher farm
productivity to limited area under cultivation in Sindh as
compared to Punjab that made the sector more manageable for
“Sindh has a natural advantage in cotton as its environment
is less susceptible to cotton leaf curl virus rampant in
Punjab. The milder night temperature in Sindh also suits the
crop as warm nights affect cotton balls adversely as in the
case of Punjab. Besides the use of BT cotton seed by a large
number of farm owners has improved cotton yields in the
province,” he explained.
“The ministry is focused on raising farm productivity all
over the country and we will announce a set of measures in
this regard in the near future,” he told this scribe from
“Sindh is capitalising on technology and seed research
carried out in Punjab. You carry out a survey of agriculture
support institutions in Sindh and Punjab. I do not have an
iota of doubt that agriculture research outfits of Punjab
are far more efficient and effective than those in Sindh,” a
senior agriculture ministry official from Faisalabad said.
He wished not to be identified.
“Yes, yields are higher in Sindh but they are outcome of
many intricately related factors. The bottom line is that
milder climate of the province because of closer proximity
to the sea, works in favour of farming community while it
uses the same seeds and technology used by Punjab farmers,”
“In Punjab harsher climate, particularly during Kharif,
necessitates availability of more water to protect cotton
plants against extreme heat, and ensure growth of fruit. For
example a cotton variety FH942 developed in Punjab produces
a ball that weighs about three grammes but when it was sown
in South India its ball weight was as high as 6-8 grammes.
The climate is the deciding factor in agriculture,” he
Commenting on efforts of the agriculture establishment, the
officer said agricultural researchers are trying their best
in many prestigious institutes in Punjab to deal with the
“I know of no other country investing so much on agriculture
support services as Pakistan, but physical constraints are
too complex. We understand that wheat is crucial for food
security and cotton for economic security and they are
treated as such by the ministry of food and agriculture and
Dr Qadir Bux Baloch, who retired last year as agriculture
development commissioner from the federal ministry of food,
agriculture and livestock, hoped that inflow of resources
into rural economy because of better crop prices would boost
productivity by allowing growers to apply more suitable
“The cost of agriculture input has gone up steeply. There is
a need to ensure steady supply of resources to the farming
community to let them apply best inputs to reap a good
crop,” he added.
Dr Shakeel Khan, federal wheat commissioner, told this
scribe from Islamabad that lower yield in Punjab as compared
to that in Sindh pose a challenge that the ministry is alive
to and working tirelessly to address it.
“A lot is happening but we have a long way to go to attain
better productivity by managing our physical, financial and
human resources more efficiently,” he said.
The land fragmentation in Punjab that has reduced farm size
to sub-economical level might also have played a role in
less efficient management of farms.
The Pakistan Economic Survey reports surge in fertiliser
off-take in the country by 23 per cent over the last fiscal
year. The better agriculture performance reduced the food
import bill that shrunk to 2005 level despite surge in
global commodity prices.