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Agriculture Resource Management




  • There is a wide gap between actual and potential yield of different crops. For wheat, rice, sugar cane, cotton, maize and edible oil, this gap is 72, 84, 74, 56, 73, 86 and 77 per cent, respectively. In respect of yield per hectare, Pakistan ranks 8th in wheat, 9th in rice, 10th in cotton, 15th in maize and virtually lowest in sugar cane in spite of having the largest irrigation system in the world. This reflects poor management of agricultural resources by different governments.

    There is a wide gap between actual and potential yield of different crops. For wheat, rice, sugar cane, cotton, maize and edible oil, this gap is 72, 84, 74, 56, 73, 86 and 77 per cent, respectively. In respect of yield per hectare, Pakistan ranks 8th in wheat, 9th in rice, 10th in cotton, 15th in maize and virtually lowest in sugar cane in spite of having the largest irrigation system in the world. This reflects poor management of agricultural resources by different governments.

    With the growth of industrial, manufacturing and servicing sectors over time, the share of agriculture in Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) has declined from 53 per cent in 1947 to 24 per cent in 2004. Similarly, the 66 per cent labour force employed in this sector has now fallen to 44 per cent currently. It provides necessary raw material to agro-based industries. The share of agro-based products to total exports is nearly 80 per cent. Keeping in view the overwhelming importance of agriculture, this sector has not been treated properly. With fast increasing population growth pressure on agriculture sector is mounting to meet food and fibre needs of the people. Population has risen to 145 million from 32.5 million in 1947.


    It is estimated that it will touch 180 million by 2010 and 280 million by 2025. It is unfortunate that the current agricultural growth (2.4pc) is below the population growth rate (2.6pc). This is a warning bell for policy makers. It lays stress on the fact that the policy makers should devise ways and means to meet the future challenges of food, feed and fibre through efficient utilization of available resources. To end stagnation in the crop production requires a series of measures related to soil, water, agronomic and socio economic factors. It is imperative to increase crop production. It is possible either to increase area under a particular crop or by enhancing yield of a crop per unit area. In both of the cases, there is a great need for efficient utilization of resources. To increase the area under a particular crop requires measures to reclaim soil that has been rendered unproductive due to water logging, salinity and erosion. Soil depletion, soil erosion, salinity and water logging have resulted in reduction of significant cropped area. There is a wastage of about 8.7mha, 6.3mha, 11.2mha and 4.73mha of land due to water logging, salinity, water erosion and wind erosion, respectively.Obviously, crop area can be increased provided arresting these problems with full commitment.

    Though efforts were made in the past to tackle these problems, yet they did not yield tangible results due to lack of commitment. Water is an important input in agriculture sector. Luckily, Pakistan is gifted with abundant water resources with 144maf average annual river flow and 52maf of ground water. Still, about 10mha cultivable area has to bring under plough. This requires water for irrigation. In spite of the fact that the country has one of the largest canal irrigation systems, about 17mha is irrigated area out of the total 22.92mha cropped area, water shortage has become the common phenomenon. It is because of the fact that water resources are not properly managed. Canal irrigation system comprises of the Indus River, its eastern and western tributaries, major and minor canals, link canals, dams, barrages, head works and watercourses. The irrigation efficiency of this system is very poor due to great water losses recurring in the wake of deep percolation, seepage and evaporation. About 35 per cent water is lost from major and minor canals, 24 per cent from watercourses and 25 per cent from field application.

    There is a great need to save water by curtailing these losses through lining of canals and watercourse and plantation of trees on the banks of canals and watercourses. It may be mentioned here that allocation of Rs66 billion for lining of 86,000 watercourses by the government is a commendable decision. Again, increasing water storage capacity through the construction of dams is need of the day. Continuous sedimentation of the existing water reservoirs has reduced their storage capacity. Currently, storage capacity of all water reservoirs is about 17maf. This makes it necessity to construct new dams. In rain-fed areas, it is important to follow water conservation practices to bridge the gap between actual and potential crop yields. Availability of seed with desirable characters such as high yielding variety, resistant to drought, lodging, insect/pests and diseases, to the farmers for the purpose of sowing is necessary.

    It is important to exploit the biotechnological techniques to introduce genes of desirable characters in the seed to get high yields. The concept of genetically modified food is gaining momentum in developed countries and some developing countries as well. To increase yield per unit area, it is suggested to manage agronomic factors. These include use of quality seed for sowing, preparing fine seedbeds, timely sowing, using recommended seed rate, maintaining adequate moisture in the seedbeds, maintaining plant population, applying irrigation at critical crop growth stages, using balanced amount of fertilizers, eradicating weeds, adopting plant protection measures and timely harvesting.

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