Food and Agriculture in Pakistan - Analysis of Socio-Economic Issues

By Ghouse, Agha M. | Economic Review, March 1991 | Go to article overview

Food and Agriculture in Pakistan - Analysis of Socio-Economic Issues


Ghouse, Agha M., Economic Review


Food and Agriculture in Pakistan - Analysis of Socio-Economic Issues

This paper is broadly divided into three sections: (i) Agricultural Growth and Food Self-sufficiency, (ii) R&D in agriculture and technological and environmental changes and (iii) Quality of Life and the critical role of women.

Agricultural Growth and Food Self-sufficiency

The challenge of food for the future is as much relevant to Pakistan as to a host of developing countries, despite its notable achievement in irrigation of vast fertile lands specially for production of foodgrains. Although production of wheat, the staple food for the majority of Pakistanis, has tremendously increased from 3.9 million tonnes in 1951 to 15.8 million in 1990, it is obliged to import wheat to meet the critical deficit in the context of increasing population at the rate of 3.1 per cent per annum. It is estimated that by the turn of century, Pakistan would be needing about 18 million tonnes of wheat for a projected population of 150 million (as against the present population of 110 million in 1990 and 33 million in 1947 at the time of Independence).

Never before in modern civilization the conscience of the entire world population has been so much pricked as at present when millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America are suffering from hunger, malnutrition and death, specially at a time when (according to FAO Report) the year 1990 has witnessed a world record of cereal production at 1,950 million tonnes - an increase of 4 per cent above the previous year. Following bumper harvests in North America, USSR, EEC, China and other countries, the global output of wheat shows a higher increase of 9 per cent over 1989. Therefore the short term global problem of transferring surplus wheat and other foodgrains to the specified countries and areas where they are critically needed, should also be assessed within the framework of long term strategies and policies at global, regional and country levels. We should in this perspective strengthen the regional approach among South Asian countries (including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and others) and thereby evolve timely and appropriate concensus for joint action under the aegis of the present SID Conference.

Pakistan has admittedly been among "Front-Line" states for "Green Revolution" in the 3rd World and this imparts added significance to the international acclamation it received in 1960's as the "Model of Growth" among the developing countries. Nevertheless there has also been a divergent school of thought in Pakistan backed by professional economists and planning experts during the pre and post so-called "Development Decade" of 1960's in which an enviable GDP growth rate 6.7 per cent per annum had been registered. It has been persistently argued that Pakistan would have been in a more secure mould of self-reliant growth and a happier environment of social welfare if the Planning Commission (and the Federal Government) would have given "priority" to agricultural and rural development rather than import-oriented industrialization. Indeed the overall strategy enumerated in 2-Volume First Five Year Plan (1955-60) Document is still held in high esteem more so in the present context of ecological deterioration, continued migration from rural to urban areas, mounting unemployment throughout the country and untold miseries faced by various sections of the population including women.

According to World Development Report 1990, Pakistan's agricultural growth rate for 1965-80 was 3.3 per cent per annum compared to 1.5 per cent of Bangladesh, 2.5 per cent of India and 4.3 per cent of Indonesia (Please refer to Table-I annexed). For the recent years 1980-88, Pakistan's agricultural growth rate has increased to 4.3 per cent as compared to 2.1 per cent for Bangladesh, 2.3 per cent for India and 3.1 per cent of Indonesia. The overall GDP growth rate for Pakistan becomes more impressive at 6. …

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