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Past performance and future prospects of agriculture of Pakistan.
Pakistan is an agrarian country. Agriculture is the backbone of its economy, and it is the second largest sector in its economy. According to the annual economic survey of Pakistan for the year FY2012-13, agriculture employs approximately 45 percent of the country’s total labor force. Furthermore, about 65 percent people in Pakistan are either directly or indirectly related to it. The importance of agriculture is evident from the data stated above however, it contribute by only 21.4 percent in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The agriculture sector is comprised of four sub-sectors namely crops, fishery, forestry and livestock. Crops are further divided into important crops, other crops and cotton ginning. The share of each sub-sector in the agriculture sector is given in the table below.
The average growth in the sector over the past ten years (from 2003-4 to 2012-13) has been 3.3 percent. In the fiscal year 2012-13, the sector showed a growth of 3.3 percent. The annual growth of the livestock sub-sector was 4.4 percent. The fishery sector grow by 2.6 percent. However, a decline by 1.6 percent has been noted in the fishery sub-sector.
A reason of slow progress
The agriculture of Pakistan has been a victim of weather, resource shortage had energy shortage. All of the above have adversely affected the overall progress of the sector. As mentioned above, the economy is highly dependent on the agriculture sector. The slow progress in the country’s economy can be attributed to the slow growth of this sector.
Past performance of the agriculture sector
The growth of the agriculture sector has been fluctuating from a nice 6.5 percent to a disappointing 0.6 percent.
The crops sub-segment of the agriculture sector showed a fluctuating attitude over the past decade with a declaration from 6.9 percent in FY03 to 2.6 percent in FY04 to a negative growth of 4.2 percent in the FY09.
“Almost all sub-sectors contributed in this slowdown, with only minor crops registering a small recovery. However, higher crop prices were a saving grace for agriculture in FY04”, states the State bank Annual Economic Survey for FY03-04.
Pakistan’s economy strongly relies on cotton crop. Cotton is a significant raw-material provider to the textile industry of the country. The annual economic report for the fiscal year 2012-13 states, “It accounts for 7.0 percent of value added in agriculture and 1.5 percent of GDP. During 2012-13, the crop was sown on an area of 2879 thousand hectares, 1.6 percent more than last year (2835 thousand hectares). Mild attack of Thrips, white fly and Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) adversely affected the production of cotton boll which affected the production and yield per hectare as compared to last year”.
Factors causing problems in the past
Many factors have been at the root of the problems and challenges to the agriculture sector. Namely water scarcity, energy related issues, monopoly of foreign companies, non-comprehensive policies of Pakistan, hazardous weather conditions and worse of them all .constructing of housing colonies on agricultural land!
In the past few years, hundreds of acres of fertile land has been wasted over projects which are still under way. In the previous government, 400 acre of agriculture land near Muridke, Punjab was chosen for a university that is still to be constructed. Moreover, 100 acres of agriculture land near Burewala was allotted for a sub-campus of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. Its construction is still underway.
Future aspects of agriculture of Pakistan
“Pakistan is an agricultural country” every article on agriculture begins with this sentence- this article is no exception. But after a bird’s eye view on some of the problems which that sector faces invokes a feeling of doubt on the authenticity of that statement.
We cannot say, in no way, not even the most optimistic person can, that Pakistan agriculture has a bright future unless the issues which agriculture sector is facing are properly addressed and solved.
Housing schemes on agricultural land:
For past few years there’s a growing trend of making colonies out of agricultural land. A writer in the daily dawn wrote “We will only have houses where once were wheat field”. Large acres of agricultural land are being wasted on projects that have importance but seriously damage agriculture. The government of Punjab is planning construction of a textile city over 1475 acres in the most ideal and fertile land in Sheikhupura. Coercive techniques are being adopted to force the farmer to sell their lands. The market value is of one acre of land is Rs. 75 lacs which the government wants for only 13 lacs per acre. Sheikhupara is place to 3 of the most modern dairy farms and the most modern fish farm in Pakistan. (hasb-e-haal, ep. 09-01-2014). The government of Punjab is planning a project of making electricity with coal on a fertile land in Khadrabad, Punjab. The requirement is 1000 acre. Each acre costs Rs. 30 to Rs. 35 lacs which the government wants the farmer to purchase for only Rs. 780,000 per acre (Hasb-e-haal; 19-01-2014).
The world is under environment threat along with food shortage. The impact has been experienced in India and in Pakistan recently. Floods have been causing severe damage to crops for the past four year and the situation will not be very different this year and in the years to come. Pakistan is also under threat of water shortage. The country does not have enough resources or dams to store water. The situation will worsen if no serious measure is taken in this regard.
© 2014 Nauman Nazir