FOOD SITUATION PAKISTAN
Agriculture is the main stay of Pakistan's economy. It contributes one fourth to total output (GDP). About 44% of countries work force is employed in agriculture and 60% population is living in rural areas and is directly or indirectly linked with agriculture for their livelihood.
Agriculture has grown at an average rate of 4.54% per annum since 1991 till date. The growth in the agriculture sector faces large fluctuations due to behavior of nature, pests attacks on crops, adulterated pesticides, water shortages, neglect of the government to the immediate solutions of farmers, problems of credit, expensive availability of electricity poor quality of seeds etc.
In spite of various bottlenecks which are being faced by farmers in Pakistan, the growth in agriculture is steadily improving. There is now remarkable increase in food grains production and productivity. The production of cotton sugarcane and other minor crops has also considerably increased.
Pakistan faced food shortage right from 1947 to 1997 and imported wheat to meet the domestic demand. However, from 1997 to 2000, the government of Pakistan succeeded in raising production and meeting the food requirements from within the country.
The main factors responsible for improving the food situation in the country are (i) better use of seeds fertilizers, (ii) multiple cropping system (iii) increasing use of modern equipments and machinery like tractors harvesters etc. (iv) improved credit facilities (v) Price incentives to growers (vi) eradication of crop diseases, insects and pests, (vii) more availability of irrigation water etc.
Pakistan entered into export market of wheat in 2000. However after 2001,the wheat shortage is again now being faced. The supply position of wheat is better in 2006-07. Pakistan is the 7th largest wheat producer and is producing about 23.5 million tones of wheat against the need of 23 million tones.
The wheat shortage in our country is mainly due to smuggling of large quantities of wheat to Afghanistan and Iran. According to one estimate, nearly 2.5 million tones of wheat is smuggled in Afghanistan alone.
The government should take to )i) check smuggling of wheat (ii) discourage late sowing of wheat (iii) make provision of quality supply of fertilizer, pesticides (vi) provision of timely credit to small farmers, and (v) reduction in tube well electricity rate.