Challenges Faced By Pakistan's
By Maheen Taraq
economy of Pakistan depends heavily on agriculture.
Importance of this sector is manifold as it feeds people,
provides raw material for industry and is the base of our
Foreign exchange earned
from merchandise exports is 45% of total exports of
Pakistan. It contributes 26% of GDP and 52% of the total
populace is getting its livelihood from it.
67.5% people are living in
the rural areas of Pakistan and are directly involved in it.
There are two main crops in Pakistan i.e. Rabi & Kharif.
Main crops of Pakistan are
wheat, rice, maize, cotton and sugar cane.
These major crops contributed
7.7% last year. Minor crops are canola, onions, mangoes and
pulses which contributed 3.6% as there was no virus attack
last year. Fishery and Forestry contributes 16.6% and 8.8%
Though the agricultural sector is facing problems in
Pakistan yet the major chunk of money comes from this
sector. Let us shed some light on the problems of the
agricultural sector of Pakistan of agricultural problems in
Pakistan growth or development in Pakistan.
One being no mechanism has been adopted to eradicate the
soil erosion and even after harvesting nothing is done to
restore the soil energy. Therefore, the fertility of soil is
decreasing day by day. The thickness of fertile layer of
soil in Pakistan is more than 6 inches but the average yield
is lower than other countries where the layer of fertile
soil is only 4 inches.
Water in Pakistan's rivers has gone down to perilously low
levels. The reason for this is not just lack of rains. India
is restricting water flow of rivers that originate from her
and then flow into Pakistan, especially the Indus, Chenab
and Jhelum rivers that pass through Indian held Kashmir.
Pakistan has raised objections to Indian water projects, but
a World Bank-appointed and supposedly "neutral" expert
rejected most of the Pakistani objections, while also
advising India to make some changes to the dam's height.
Pakistani commentators, pressure groups and leaders are
convinced that India is controlling the river waters to
strangulate Pakistan's agriculture, which would definitely
affect Pakistani exports and increase its dependency on food
Despite being the fifth richest country in water resources ,
Pakistan is estimated to be losing 13 million cusecs
[approximately 368,119 cubic meters/second] of water every
year from its rivers into the sea, as it does not have
enough reservoirs or dams to store water. The archaic method
of flood irrigation is still in practice in whole of the
country which wastes almost 50 to 60 percent of water. A new
irrigation system called drip irrigation system has been
introduced in many parts of the world. This not only saves
water but also gives proper quantity of water according to
the needs of plants. However, this system is yet to
implemented in our country if we are to maximize our water
Furthermore, owing to traditional methods of cultivation and
harvesting, Pakistan has low yield per acre that means the
average crop in Pakistan is just 1/4th of that of advanced
states. Where as Nepal, India and Bangladesh are using
modern scientific methods to increase their yield per acre.
For this purpose, these states are using modern machines to
improve their yield. Also, the small farmers are increasing
in our country as the lands are dividing generation by
generation. So, there are large number of farmers who own
only 4 acres of land. These small farmers do not get credit
facilities to purchase seeds, pesticides, fertilizers etc.
Additionally, a large portion of land is owned by feudal and
the farmers who work on their lands, are just tenants. This
uncertain situation of occupancy neither creates incentive
of work hard nor attracts capital investment.
On the other hand, water logging and salinity are increasing
day by day. No effective measures have been taken to control
it. The storage capacity of the dams is decreasing due to
layers of mud accumulating at their basin so is the water
availability per acre. Therefore, the farmers are installing
more and more tube wells to irrigate their crops. This is
why salinity is becoming a major issue in most parts of
Punjab and Sindh.
As the usual focus is more on land, crops and yield
problems, the man behind the plough is always ignored. While
formulating the 5 or 10 years plan, no emphasize has been
laid on the importance of solving the problems of farmers.
As most of the farmers are illiterate, poor and ignorant,
even the loans issued by ADBP or other banks are used by
them in other fields like repayment of debts, marriage of
daughters etc, in spite of its befitting use in agricultural
Pakistan is rich in fertile land but this gift of good is
being wasted. 79.6% million hectors of land is cultivated,
where as only 20.43% million hectors is cultivated. There
are two main reasons for that.
1. A major area is owned by feudals. It is difficult to
manage such a huge area so only that part is cultivated
which is easy to manage, the rest is left uncultivated.
2. The rise of industrialization has given threat to this
sector. People are migrating to cities and cities are
expanding, thus new towns and colonies are constructed on
Monopoly of Foreign
Along with these issues, the monopoly of Foreign Big Wigs
and false policies of government must not be ignored.The
pesticides companies are sorting partnership with "World
Bank". These companies are selling adulterated and expensive
pesticides to poor farmers thus leaving them helpless. These
pesticides are not only hazardous for health but also
filling the pockets of companies. By moving according to the
world bank these companies are gaining their own aims.
Moreover there is a conflict of interests. It is not ensured
that either the company conducting the agreement is
basically trying to get access to international market or
just working according to their aims.
Genetically Engineered Seeds:
91% of genetically engineered (GE) seeds are made and owned
by one US Company called Monsanto. A vast majority of
consumers around the world is against GE foods and crop as
GE has been associated with health risks, loss of
biodiversity, increased use of toxic weed killers and other
environmental problems. 85% of GE crops are concentrated in
just 3 countries i-e United States, Argentina and Canada.
Globally G.E crops cover less than 1% of arable land.
Farmers around the world have experienced problems with
Monsanto's BT cotton. Pakistan has asked Monsanto to provide
cotton seeds which consume less water as Pakistan is facing
a grave issue of water shortage. It is a notorious
organization that took the farmers to courts many times as
it did not give ownership right to farmers to preserve
seeds. Even the seed of harvested crop cannot be used again
for cultivation. Monopoly of Monsanto is clear when it is
selling seed at RS 1700 per kg to Pakistan and RS 700 per kg
to India .
Non-comprehensive Policies of Pakistan:
18 billion in budget was allocated for agricultural sector
of Pakistan but the withdrawal of subsidy on pesticides and
electricity on the conditions of IMF has done considerable
damage to this sector. Whereas America and European Union
are giving a huge amount of subsidy to their farmers and
that is a greatest hurdle in the implementation of W.T.O
rules. Additionally, price policy is very weak. In Punjab
sugar cane is sold 200 Rs. per 40 kilograms. It is purchased
and then stocked by the Industrialists in their stores. When
Brazil bought sugarcane from International Market and prices
became high, the projected high demand gave Pakistani sugar
mills owners a golden chance of selling sugar at high
prices, resulting in Pakistan facing a severe sugar crisis.
This forced Pakistan to import Sugar at high prices
therefore, the prices of sugar went even higher in local
In order to resolve our agricultural issues, each and every
problem should be looked upon thoroughly and dealt with some
concrete measures. First of all, feudalism should be
abolished and lands should be allotted to poor farmers. This
will not only enhance the performance of the farmers but
also increase the productivity and per acre yield of all the
crops in Pakistan. Taxes should be levied on agricultural
income but not without devising a limit of land holding.
Otherwise it would directly effect poor farmers.
Lack of guidance is the main reason for the farmers'
backwardness . As the only means of communication in rural
areas is T.V or radio so it is urgently needed on the part
of these mass communication resources to air the programmes
and run ads related to the new agricultural techniques and
scientific methods. But these programmes should be telecast
in regional or local languages. Moreover, refresher courses
should be arranged by government to equip the farmers with
the latest techniques and methods in use. The communication
gap between well qualified experts and simple farmers have
not been bridged. Availability of these experts is not
ensured in rural areas as they are reluctant to go there.
Moreover, Federal Seed
Certification and Federal Seed Registration is approved but
it should take responsible steps in approving seeds as it
has already approved 36 new kinds of seeds. Those seeds
which can create pest problem in future, should be banned.
These seeds are of cotton mainly. International seed makers
are providing those seeds which are not successful in our
country as these seeds are not tested on our soil. A new
Agricultural policy must be framed in which following steps
should be focused on.
1. Small farmers must be focused. The major problems of
small farmers should be solved first.
2. Provision of latest machinery , pesticides, insecticides
and fertilisers to such farmers must be ensured at
3. Consumer friendly policies must be formulated e.g they
must be provided with accessible loans from banks.
4. Productivity enhancement programs must be constituted to
adjust and support prices.
5. Different Agricultural zones should be introduced. As
Multan is famous for its Mangoes and citrus fruits so it
must be made Mango, citrus zone through which perishable
products should be exported. Pakistan Agricultural storage &
6. Corporation needs to take steps in this regard.
7. Corporate farming like giving lands to Mitchells, Nestle
and Multinational companies is also a good idea that will
also help those who own a large area of fertile land but
can't manage it.
8. Surplus vegetables and fruits must be exported. A scheme
worth Rs.39 million has been approved for the current fiscal
year for establishment of agro export processing zone for
fruits, vegetables and flowers. This will also help in
9. Latest machinery should be provided to the farmers at
considerable prices to increase the per acre yield. This
provision should be on easy installments so that the farmers
can avoid the burden of loans. Subsidies should be given by
the government for modern machinery.
The irrigation system of Pakistan also needs improvement as
about 67% of the land is irrigated with canals. The
employment of modern techniques of irrigation can solve the
problems of irrigation in Pakistan. This includes drip
irrigation and sprinkle irrigation methods. By using these
techniques the farmers can save a huge chunk some of money
which they pay for irrigation through tube wells and
Unless some rigidity and seriousness is not shown, India-
Pakistan water issues may not be resolved .Thus, a mass
movement must be called for to pressurise India to give up
its claim on Pakistan's water. Moreover, the government must
embark on a crash program to build small dams which will
play a vital role in improving the land's fertlity, thereby
increasing our per acre yirld. The rivers which are ideal
for dam construction are : Indus, Jehlum and Chenab rivers.
This will not only enhance the storage capacity of water and
reduce the per acre cost of all the crops; but will also
reduce the salinity chances of the land as less tubewell
water will be flooded to the lands which cause salinity.
Hence, it is not until proper attention and corrective
measures are taken by both the public and private sector ,
that our agricultural yield may get improved and the
agrarian issues may get resolved.