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Critical Issues in Agriculture of Pakistan




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    Agriculture contributes 21% GDP and employing 44 percent of the workface. It is still a major contributor to our economy but its role would be more viable as it is performing at its present situation. Pakistani Agriculture facing multidimensional problems. Our major problem is low productivity. It is said that average yield obtained is almost 30% less than potential yield. If we take the example of wheat crop, our average yield is 26 Maund per acre and potential for varieties is 65-73 maund/acre, so we obtain 64 percent less yield than average yield. Many progressive formers are taking 50 maunds per acre with same type of lands and resources. So the low yield issues should be addressed. For broad crop spectrum, we can discuss our problems under following heads:

    Soil Related Problems to Agriculture

    Soil depletion is one of the main issues in low productivity. Due to continuous farming the nutrients in soil get depleted and these soils could not provide balance nutrition to crop. So we cannot achieve better productivity.Every one knows that for proper plant growth it needs 16 essential nutrients. These nutrients are Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesiam, Sulpher, Zinc, Boran, Iron, manganese, copper, molbedenium , chlorine. These nutrients would be available in soil for proper plant growth. Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen are obtained from air, other nutrients are divided on basis of need into two categories. Macronutrient, Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK) these are needed in higher concentration and other are Micronutrients zinc, Iron, Manganese, copper, chlorine, molbedenium, these are needed in very small quantities only parts per millions (ppm). To fulfill the need of more populations we do intensive cropping. One piece of land in cultivated up to four times in a year. So the nutrients get depleted by continuous usage. Secondly today?s high yielding varieties need more nutrition that is big reason for this nutrient depletion. soil pH for Pakistani and soil is between 7.8 ? 8.3 that is on higher side. For proper nutrient up take the pH value should be between 5.5 ? 7.5. So many nutrients become unavailable to plants though they are present in our soils. So presence of higher concentration of salts in our soils is another issue for low yield. It is claimed that upto 60% yield loss due to soil salinity and sodicity other big issue is rainfed soils, those are dependent only on rain water so the yield of these areas are unpredictable. Increased urbanization is also big reason. As fertile lands are being converted to housing colonies. There is no law to see through such issues. Fertile peaces of land should be to produce more food for humanity, rather than to build a series of town near big cities.

    Water Related Problem

    Limited supplies of water result in low yield. Crops need water at their critical stages necessarily. In case of wheat drought at germination can cause more than 50 percent yield loss. Last year wheat crop was adversely affected by water short fall to the extent of 23.3 percent over normal supplies during Rabi. Secondly the present canal water is not effectively used in our irrigation system. 25-35% losses of water are recorded out of total applied to fields. According to some old figures out of 142 MAF, total water available in rivers and 33 MAF annual discharge from tubewell the total quantum of water available to crops is only 42 MAF.Due to shortage of canal water farmers have to use tube well water. This water is brackish and having higher concentration of different salts and enhances the problem of soil salinity and sodicity. Due to these problems the water in root zone becomes unavailable to plant.

    Agronomic/Management Factors

    Delayed sowing is one of the biggest issues for low yield. In wheat crop after 15 November every day delay reduce 15 Kg yield. Because for germinating seed needs a particular temperature. After 15 November temp. goes down slowly and the germination gets affected . Secondly our farmers do not use optimum fertilizers. In some cases they apply under doze and in few cases they apply some excessive fertilizer particularly farmers do not care about nitrogenous fertilizer. But in present scenario it has become difficult to meet optimum fertilizer done due to price hikes in fertilizer market. In Pakistan the per hector usage of NPK is 170 kg/ha but the recommended is 300 kg/ha. Hence in fertilizer application our problems are two prongs. One is poor nutrition application and second is incorrect fertilizer case.
    Weed infestation reduces yield upto 17-25% in wheat, 20-60% in rice, 20-45% in maize, 13-41% in cotton. It is said that ?each wheat produced reduces 1 kg of wheat?. Lack of management on the part of farmer to manage the issue is biggest problem. It has been established to use weedicides for wheat crop but most of the farmers do not consider it a serious threat for their yield, use of poor quality seed is also a great yield reduction factor. Very few farmers use certified seed. In wheat crop farmers prefer their own seed. But that seed is not prepared particularly for the seed purpose due to which uniformity in yield could not achieved. For wheat crop the single criteria for variety is observed that the variety should not be rust susceptible. So growers do not much care that the last crop was disease free or not, due to which in next crop season disease chances are increased. Due to lack of good cultural practices the pest infestations become swear. Hence in managing field crops farmers commit multidimensional mistakes. They do not bother about quality, use poor and incorrect manuring , that leads to week plants whose are mostly attacked by pest infestation and compete for feed with weed, hence results in poor crop yield.

    Natural Factor

    Natural factor cannot be minimized. In May 2007 cotton crop suffered from heavy rainfall which caused poor germination in Punjab. High temperature during August, September 2007 caused more shedding of fruit part and pest attacks. Consequently the cotton production declined to 11.7 million bales as gainst 12.9 million bales last year that showed 9.3 percent negative growth. Agriculture in Pakistan always totally dependent on natural factors, because we have no remedies for either higher or lower side. Heavy rains result in flood. These are never affordable and manageable. Low rainfall results in drought that also has not substitute. On 67% area received rainfall less than 10 inches. On other side no system to store rainfall water and water is losses in run off and evaporation.

    Socio-Economic Factors

    Mass illiteracy is biggest issues in rural area. Farmers are not up dated with new techniques and firmly attached with old traditional farming methods. At least they should know their profession technically but they are not provided with basic set of information. Furthermore they have small holdings. Our 81% farmers fall in subsistence farmers. 95% people have 53% land share while other 5% have 47.% lands of Pakistan. These big farmers are mostly absent land lord. They are not concerned with their per acre yield. Managers and tenants are also not concerned with high productivity. So there is no improvement in almost 50% lands productivity. The people, who are born in debt, live in debt and dies in debt have no dreams even. They are caught with strong shackles of tradition. They spend a lot on the customs like birth, death and marriages. They believe on fatalism and do not strive for the best. After doing nothing they satisfy themselves by blaming their luck. So these illiterate mobs, do not know even about their profession, with small holdings, having no alternative to earn, surrounded by strict customs of society ? how they can see forward without social mobility. But there is no body to solve their issue. At the end of the year they do not know what they have spent and earned. They only know the season when they will borrow from landlord or Middleman and the time what they will excuse to give borrow back. They are not even able to sell their own produce. Middle man earns and reaps the main profit ? producers and consumers both suffer.

    Policy Issues

    It’s dilemma of our Agriculture that farm inputs are not available at the time of need. DAP (Di-ammonium phosphate) Urea, always sold in black. Whenever Govt tries to sale subsidized fertilizer at control rate it opens the way to smuggle to Afghanistan and middle Asia.

     
    By: Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

    About Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

    I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

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