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Pakistan’s agriculture sector provides food security to the nation, livelihood to rural population, and it is a source of income for businesses related to seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, machinery and equipment, other items, and services. It provides raw material to the agro-based industries such as textile, sugar, and paper. Our textile industry is a major contributor to export earnings as well as employment.

Agriculture sector’s current contribution to the country’s GDP is 19.2 percent. Over 65 percent of the country’s population depends for employment on this sector, and around 39 percent workforce is directly engaged in agriculture farming. So, agriculture sector is definitely the backbone of Pakistan’s economy.

The share of livestock in agriculture is 60.07 percent, and it is 11.53 percent of the GDP. Crops’ share is 35.81 percent in agriculture, and 6.87 percent in GDP. Fisheries’ share in agriculture is 2.01 percent, and in GDP it is 0.39 percent, while the share of forestry in agriculture is 2.1 percent, and 0.4 percent is in the GDP.

When we compare our agriculture sector with other countries, we are among top ranking countries in production. However, there are a lots of gaps in yield and quality, and despite its importance and enormous growth potential, this sector did not get proper attention of the policymakers and the implementing agencies. As a result, Pakistan could not achieve the desired level of output and yield which is necessary to ensure food security, and also improvement in export earnings.

From the following analysis of some of our main crops, we can ascertain the position of our agriculture sector in comparison with some other countries.

Cotton crop is of significant importance for the textile industry as it is the major source of export earnings and employment of a huge labour force. Its contribution to the agriculture sector is 3.1 percent, and 0.6 percent to the GDP.

According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee - ICAC source, in 2020-21, Pakistan produced 890 thousand metric tonnes of cotton lint and ranked at 7th position in production. However, the yield of cotton lint is 0.445 Mt/Ha, ranking Pakistan at 41st position.

Looking at the global market comparison based on previous year’s data, India grabbed the first position with 6,026 thousand metric tonnes production; however, India’s cotton yield is 0.447 Mt/Ha, ranking India at 40th position. China ranks at 2nd position with of 5,910 thousand metric tonnes production; China also ranks at 2nd position in yield of cotton with 1.864 thousand Mt/Ha. Insofar as the size of yield is concerned, Australia ranks at 1st position, with 1.905 thousand Mt/Ha, and Russia at 3rd position with yield of 1.759 thousand Mt/Ha. Although our ranking in production is among top seven countries, our cotton yield is only one-fourth of Australia’s. Pakistan needs drastic measures to bring about a meaningful improvement in its cotton yield.

Sugarcane is vital for our sugar industry, and its contribution in Pakistan’s agriculture sector is 3.4 percent, and 0.7 percent in the GDP. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, during 2020-21, our sugarcane production was 81.009 million tonnes while yield was 69.536 thousand Mt/Ha. During 2019-20, sugarcane production was 66.380 million tonnes, registering a yield of 63.8 Mt/Ha.

Reviewing the global market based on previous year’s data, Pakistan ranks among the top five countries in sugarcane production, however in its yield, the ranking is 48. In production, Brazil ranks at 1st position with 768.6 million tonnes of production, whereas it has a yield of 0.075 Mt/Ha which is less than 24 countries’. India ranks at 2nd position with 348.4 million tonnes production, and ranks at 31st position with a yield of 0.070 Mt/Ha.

China ranks at 3rd position with 123 million tonnes production, and ranks at 27th position with a yield of 0.073 Mt/Ha. There are countries with lower production, but they have higher yield levels. For example, Guatemala has 33.0 million tonnes production with a yield of 0.129 Mt/Ha. Colombia has sugarcane production of 36.9 million tonnes (0.089 Mt/Ha yield).

The United States has 29.926 million tonnes production (0.081 Mt/Ha). Another factor is the sugar extraction where few countries with lesser sugarcane production than Pakistan have higher rate of sugar extraction. So, Pakistan needs to take measures to enhance its sugarcane yield, production as well as sugar extraction.

Wheat being the main diet of the nation is the core staple crop of Pakistan, and essential for the food security of the country. Its share in agriculture is 9.2 percent which is 1.8 percent of the GDP. During 2020-21, wheat was cultivated on 9,178 thousand hectares with a production of 27.2 million tonnes (2.974 Mt/Ha yield). In 2019-20, the production was 25.248 million tonnes with a yield of 2.867 thousand Mt/Ha.

According to the last year’s global statistics, Pakistan ranked at 7th position in wheat production, however its ranking was 59th in the area of yield. China ranked at 1st position with a production of 131.4 million tonnes, and it ranked at 15th position in yield which was 5.416 thousand Mt/Ha; India ranked at 2nd position with production of 99.7 million tonnes, and ranked at 44th position in cotton yield of 3.37 Mt/Ha.

Russian Federation ranks at 3rd position with production of 72.136 million tonnes, and ranked at 65th position with yield of 2.75 thousand MT/Ha. There are several other countries with lesser production but with higher yields. For example, the UK produced 13.55 million tonnes with a yield of 7.754 thousand Mt/Ha. France produced 35.798 million tonnes with a yield of 6.842 thousand Mt/Ha. Germany produced 20.262 million tonnes with a yield of 6.673 thousand Mt/Ha. So, we too can boost wheat production as well as its yield.—To be continued

(The writer has worked for the Federal Ministry of Food & Agriculture, and Ministry of Commerce from 2005-2013 in the fields related to agriculture sector. He also represented the government as speaker in international conferences and seminars in Pakistan, and abroad, as well as in television talkshow on the topic of “Investment Opportunities in Agriculture Sector”. Prior to working for the federal government, he served banking sector for 19 years in Pakistan and abroad. Currently, he is providing consultancy services to small businesses)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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