Rising potential of agriculture in Pakistan

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Rice production in Pakistan holds an extremely important position in agriculture and the national economy. Pakistan is the worlds fourth largest producer of rice, after China, India and Indonesia. Each year, it produces an average of 6 million tons and together with the rest of the Indian subcontinent, the country is responsible for supplying 30 per cent of the worlds paddy rice output. Most of these crops are grown in the fertile Sindh and Punjab region with millions of farmers relying on rice cultivation as their major source of employment. Among the most famous varieties grown in Pakistan include the Basmati, known for its flavour and quality

PAKISTANS PRINCIPAL natural resources are arable land and water. About 25 per cent of Pakistans total land area is under cultivation and is watered by one of the largest irrigation systems in the world. Pakistan irrigates three times more acres than Russia. Agriculture accounts for about 21.2 per cent of GDP and employs about 43 per cent of the labor force. In Pakistan, the most agricultural province is Punjab where wheat and cotton are the most grown. Some people also have mango orchards but due to some problems like weather, theyre not found in a big range.

Barley and wheat cultivation-along with the domestication of cattle, primarily sheep and goat-was visible in Mehrgarh by 8000-6000 BCE.

Irrigation was developed in the Indus Valley Civilization (see also Mohenjodaro) by around 4500 BCE. The size and prosperity of the Indus civilization grew as a result of this innovation, which eventually led to more planned settlements making use of drainage and sewers. Sophisticated irrigation and water storage systems were developed by the Indus Valley Civilization, including artificial reservoirs at Girnar dated to 3000 BCE, and an early canal irrigation system from circa 2600 BCE.

Archeological evidence of an animal-drawn plough dates back to 2500 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization.

Crops

Rice production in Pakistan holds an extremely important position in agriculture and the national economy. Pakistan is the worlds fourth largest producer of rice, after China, India and Indonesia. Each year, it produces an average of 6 million tons and together with the rest of the Indian subcontinent, the country is responsible for supplying 30 per cent of the worlds paddy rice output. Most of these crops are grown in the fertile Sindh and Punjab region with millions of farmers relying on rice cultivation as their major source of employment. Among the most famous varieties grown in Pakistan include the Basmati, known for its flavour and quality.

The most important crops are wheat, sugarcane, cotton, and rice, which together account for more than 75 per cent of the value of total crop output.

Pakistans largest food crop is wheat. In 2005, Pakistan produced 21,591,400 metric tons of wheat, more than all of Africa (20,304,585 metric tons) and nearly as much as all of South America (24,557,784 metric tons), according to the FAO. The country is expected to harvest 25 to 23 million tons of wheat in 2012. Pakistan has also cut the use of dangerous pesticides dramatically.

Pakistan is a net food exporter, except in occasional years when its harvest is adversely affected by droughts. The country exports rice, cotton, fish, fruits (especially oranges and mangoes), and vegetables and imports vegetable oil, wheat, cotton, pulses and consumer foods. The country is Asias largest camel market, second-largest apricot and ghee market and third-largest cotton, onion and milk market.

The economic importance of agriculture has declined since independence, when its share of GDP was around 53 per cent. Following the poor harvest of 1993, the government introduced agriculture assistance policies, including increased support prices for many agricultural commodities and expanded availability of agricultural credit. From 1993 to 1997, real growth in the agricultural sector averaged 5.7 per cent but has since declined to about 4 per cent. Agricultural reforms, including increased wheat and oilseed production, play a central role in the governments economic reform package.

Much of the Pakistans agriculture output is utilized by the countrys growing processed-food industry. The value of processed retail food sales has grown 12 per cent annually during the Nineties and was estimated at over $1 billion in 2000, although supermarkets accounted for just over 10 per cent of the outlets.

The Federal Bureau of Statistics provisionally valued major crop yields at Rs 504,868 million in 2005 thus registering over 55 per cent growth since 2000 while minor crop yields were valued at Rs 184,707 million in 2005 thus registering over 41 per cent growth since 2000. The exports related to the agriculture sector in 2009-10 are Rs 288.18 billion including food grains, vegetables, fruits, tobacco, fisheries products, spices and livestock.

Livestock

Being a country that has a largely rural and agriculture-based industry, animal husbandry plays an important role in the economy of Pakistan and is a major source of livelihood for many farmers. It is estimated that there are between 30 to 35 million people in Pakistans current labour force who are engaged in livestocks. While the agricultural practice is prevalent throughout the entire country, it is more common in the fertile provinces of Punjab and Sindh, which are traditionally the main areas of agriculture and farming activity. In 1998, the livestock industry was contributing 37 per cent to the total capacity of national agricultural output and 9 per cent to the GDP.

As of 2001, there were there were approximately 23.3 million buffaloes, 22.4 million head of cattle, 49.1 million goats and 24.2 million sheep in Pakistan. Commercial poultry numbered 170.1 million broilers and 10.36 million layers in 1999. In addition, there were also 108 million poultry kept and tamed by people.

Sheep differ widely throughout the grazing lands of central and northern Pakistan. Their wool is exported in large quantities. Among local cow breeds, the most notable are the Red Sindhi cattle and the Sahiwal Breed, used widely for milk and dairy production purposes. Dung excreted by cattle is a vital resource for supplying cooking fuel and soil fertilizers.

The production of dairy product items such as milk, ice cream, cheeses and butter is carried out by dairy plants. During the period of 1984 to 1990, national milk production experienced a 41 per cent increase while meat production surged by 48 per cent.

Animals are also widely used for transport in Pakistan, especially in the rural areas; the most commonly used animals are camels, donkeys and bullocks. Challenges faced by modern poultry in Pakistan include high mortality rates and incidences of disease among chicks as well as an inefficient marketing system. The livestock industry still remains neglected and underdeveloped when compared to its full socio-economic potential. The government of Pakistan has been embarking on various development projects, with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank, to improve the livestock industry and its efficiency.

According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan, the livestock sector contributes about half of the value added in the agriculture sector, amounting to nearly 11 per cent of Pakistans GDP, which is more than the crop sector. The leading daily newspaper reports that the national herd consists of 24.2 million cattle, 26.3 million buffaloes, 24.9 million sheep, 56.7 million goats and 0.8 million camels. In addition to these there is a vibrant poultry sector in the country with more than 530 million birds produced annually. These animals produce 29.472 million tons of milk (making Pakistan the 4th largest producer of milk in the world), 1.115 million tons of beef, 0.740 million tons of mutton, 0.416 million tons of poultry meat, 8.528 billion eggs, 40.2 thousand tons of wool, 21.5 thousand tons of hair and 51.2 million skins and hides.

The Food and Agriculture Organization reported in June 2006 that in Pakistan, the government initiatives are being undertaken to modernize milk collection and to improve milk and milk product storage capacity.

The Federal Bureau of Statistics provisionally valued this sector at Rs.758,470 million in 2005 thus registering over 70 per cent growth since 2000.

Fishery

Pakistan has many marine and inland fishery resources. The potential was estimated at 1 million tons/year from the marine subsector alone. The commercially important resources include near 250 demersal fish species, 50 small pelagic fish species, 15 medium-sized pelagic species and 20 large pelagic fish species. In addition, there are also 15 commercial species of shrimp, 12 of cephalopods and 5 of lobster. The effect of the Indus River Delta on the marine resources of the coastline of Sindh is substantial, as this river system has been transporting enormous quantities of nutrients and sediment to the continental shelf for centuries. Pakistan has an extensive inland water areas system which is mainly dominated by the Indus River. These water bodies, depending on their type, possess varying potential for development of the inland and aquaculture subsectors. Inland water bodies, like dams, water locks, reservoirs, rivers, lakes and ponds cover an area of approximately 8 million hectares.

The fishery and fishing industry plays an important role in the national economy of Pakistan. With a coastline of about 1046 km, Pakistan has enough fishery resources that remain to be fully developed. It is also a major source of export earnings.

Processing

Marine fish is marketed as fresh, frozen, canned, cured, reduced to fishmeal, other purposes, and some retained by fishermen for their own use. The freshwater catch is marketed fresh for local consumption. Out of the total marine fish production, the percentage for human consumption ranged between 65 and 70 per cent in 2006. The rest of the catch was used for other purposes, especially reduction to fishmeal.

Fish and shrimp processing is usually divided into mechanical and non-mechanical processing. The mechanical category includes freezing plants, canning, fishmeal plants and fish liver oil extraction plants. In the non-mechanical category there are dried fish, dried shrimp, shark fin, fish maw/stomach, live lobster, live crab and fish roes/ovaries. There are 27 processing plants for the production of frozen products in Pakistan, one for canning and 8 for fishmeal processing. Almost 100 per cent of the frozen and canned fishery products are exported, while the bulk of the processed fishmeal is used in the country in the manufacture of poultry feed or fish feed.

Marketing

The marketing chain for fish is similar to that for other agricultural commodities. Products are sold into the market to wholesalers and then onto retailers and end consumers through agents working on a commission basis. Farmed fish tend to be marketed either at the farm gate, through intermediaries or by open auction, where ice-packed fish is sent to fish markets and sold. Buyers of fishery products can be members of the public, retailers, wholesalers and agents for processing plants or exporters. Fish markets are very common in Sindh and at selected locations in Punjab. All markets are under the control of the local administrations. Most fish markets have inadequate facilities; usually they lack cold storage facilities, have poor hygienic conditions and inadequate communication links. Most aquaculture product is consumed locally.

Prices tend to decline when the fish is more than 3 kg; other factors include freshness of the fish and the supply-demand situation in the market. Local consumers generally prefer freshwater fish over marine fish because of their familiarity with river and inland farmed fish, as well as the fresh condition of the product. This difference is reflected in both wholesale and retail prices, where freshwater fish is sold at a higher price than marine fish.

Consumption

In the world, and hence in Pakistan, fish is considered a cheap source of protein diet. In 2000, per capita food supply from fish and fishery products (kg/person) in Pakistan was 2, in Asia was 18 and in World was 16. Whereas, fish protein as a percentage of total protein supply in Pakistan was only 1per cent, in Asia was 10 per cent and in World was 6 per cent per cent. Processed fishery products can include fish meal (poultry feed, aquaculture feed), fish oil, fish glue etc. Out of the total marine fish production, the percentage for human consumption ranged between 65 and 70 percent in 2006. The rest of the catch was used for other purposes, especially reduction to fishmeal. The annual per capita fish consumption in Pakistan was about 2.0 kg in 2006.

Forestry

About only 4 per cent of land in Pakistan is covered with forest. The forest of Pakistan are a main source of food, lumber, paper, fuel wood, latex, medicine as well as used for purposes of wildlife conservation and ecotourism.

The forests of Pakistan are a main source of lumber, paper, fuel wood, latex, medicine as well as human and animal food. Other minor products include resin (a fluid in tissue of Chir pine plant that become solid on exposure to the air) and mazri (used for making baskets). The forests also provide ecotourism and wildlife conservation purposes. Forests have also been planted in some areas like Thal Desert to avoid soil erosion and further desertification. Riparian zone along the river Indus have been managed to avoid excess flooding.


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