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Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262

Sustainable agriculture and eradication of rural poverty in Pakistan

Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi

Poverty is rampant in the rural areas of Pakistan, where people are in a state of deprivation with regard to incomes,
clothing, housing, healthcare, education, sanitary facilities and human rights. Agriculture generates nearly 20.9 percent of
the countrys GDP and provides employment for 43.4 percent of its workforce. Most importantly, 65.9 percent of the
population living in rural areas is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Rising population,
shrinking agricultural land, increasing demand for water resources, widespread land degradation and inadequate
infrastructure appear to be major concerns of the agriculture sector in Pakistan. An attempt has been made to examine the
population growthagriculture growthpoverty alleviation linkage. It is argued that agriculture will continue to be one of
the most important sectors of Pakistans economy for years to come. To alleviate poverty, it is suggested that Pakistan
enhance the productivity of the agriculture sector through the provision of a series of inputs including provision of easy
credit to the small farmer, availability of quality fertilizers and pesticides, tractor and harvester services, improvement in
the effectiveness of the vast irrigation system and, finally, farmer education. It is concluded that the high rate of population
growth needs to be curbed for increased agricultural productivity to have any significant effect on poverty in rural areas
of Pakistan.
Keywords: Rural poverty; Agriculture sector; Population growthagriculture growthpoverty alleviation linkage; Pakistan.

1. Introduction Pakistan will require food production for larger populations

from less and less land. The biggest challenge is how to
In Pakistan the increasing rate of poverty in rural areas has increase output from the shrinking agricultural sector,
prompted debate on growth and productivity trends in the while sustaining the productivity potential of the available
agriculture sector. The average annual growth in agriculture natural resources.
was over 3.52% from 199596 to 200405; however
over the last five years agriculture growth has witnessed
mixed trends (See Table 1). Consequently, the rate of 2. Role of agriculture in economy
poverty in rural areas reached 38.65% in 200203.
Poverty is rampant in rural areas, where people are in a Early classical theory viewed economic development as a
state of deprivation with regard to incomes, clothing, growth process requiring the systematic reallocation of
housing, healthcare, education, sanitary facilities and production factors from a primary sector characterized by
human rights. Due to increasing population, natural low productivity, traditional technology, and decreasing
resources are gradually depleting, putting major constraints returns to a modern industrial sector with higher
on the efforts to eradicate poverty. The complex and productivity and increasing profits (Adelman, 2001).
enormous problems include declining availability of Agriculture was seen as a low-productivity, traditional
agricultural land and workforce, marginal producers with sector that only passively contributed to development by
small land holdings, decreasing per capita land availability, providing food and employment.
conflicting demand for scarce water resources, urbanization Beginning in the 1960s, a major revision in development
and youth evading traditional farming. In the coming years, thinking contended that agriculture had a central role as a
driver of growth, especially in the early stages of
industrialization. This strategy was later labeled agricultural-
Abdul Waheed Bhutto is Assistant Professor, Dawood College of Engineering
and Technology, Karachi-Pakistan. Email: demand-led-industrialization (ADLI) (Johnston and
Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi is Assistant Professor, COMSAT Institute of Information Mellor, 1961; Schultz, 1964; Adelman, 1984). The ADLI
Technology, Lahore-Pakistan. Email: strategy stressed the central role of increased agricultural
2007 The Authors. Journal compilation 2007 United Nations.
Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden MA 02148, USA.
254 Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi / Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262

Table 1. Economic indicators of Pakistan

Facial Year Population GDP growth Agriculture Poverty Indices: Income Inequality
growth rate rate growth rate Head-count (Percentages)
(%) (%) (%)
Rural % Urban % Total % Gini co-efficient1 Lowest 20% Highest 20%

199091 5.6 5.00 25.20 26.60 26.10 0.41 6.0 47.4

199192 2.87 9.50
199293 2.40 5.30 24.60 28.30 26.80 0.37 7.0 44.8
199394 2.28 4.4 5.20 25.40 26.90 25.70 0.40 7.4 43.1
199495 2.24 5.1 6.60
199596 2.40 6.6 11.72
199697 2.34 1.7 0.12 33.1 22.6 29.8 0.41 7.3 49.3
199798 2.36 3.5 4.52
199899 2.23 4.2 1.95 34.7 20.9 30.6 0.40 6.9 46.8
199900 2.20 3.9 6.09
200001 2.11 1.8 2.20 39.0 22.7 32.1
200102 2.13 3.1 0.10
200203 2.20 4.7 4.10 38.65 22.39 31.80
200304 2.40 7.5 2.30
200405 2.26 8.6 6.70

Sources: GOP (2005a), (2001a), (2001b).

productivity in achieving industrialization through expanding Agriculture accounts for nearly 20.9% of Pakistans
demand for goods produced by domestic industry. Two key national income (GDP), employs 43.4% of the countrys
characteristics of agriculture during the early stages of workforce and accounts for nearly 9% of the countrys
development justified its place in early development export earnings (GOP, 2007). Moreover, this sector provides
thinking. First, agriculture produces goods that directly raw material to domestic agro-based industries, such as
satisfy basic human needs. Second, agricultural production sugar, ghee, leather, and textiles. Most importantly, 65.9%
combines human effort with natural resources, such as land of the countrys population living in rural areas is directly
and agro-ecological assets. Since natural resources were or indirectly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood
assumed to be freely available, early development theorists (GOP, 2006). Given the high percentage of people in
believed that agriculture could grow independently of other Pakistan who depend on agriculture for their livelihood,
economic activities. It was also recognized that traditional little progress can be made on poverty reduction if this
agriculture could be transformed rapidly into a modern sector languishes with a slow rate of growth. In addition to
sector through the adoption of science-based technology, the direct impact of agriculture growth on poverty
thereby making a large contribution to overall growth. reduction, there is also a much larger indirect effect
Beyond its direct contribution to growth, a number of through the linkages between agriculture and non-farm
features specific to the sector enhance its contribution to growth in rural areas.
pro-poor growth, including the concentration of the poor
in the sector, the large size of its growth linkages to other
sectors, and the positive externalities from assuring food 3. Linkage of agricultural productivity growth and
security and reducing food prices (Byerlee et al., 2005). rural non-farm growth
The unprecedented fall in global poverty in Asia in the last
three decades reflects a large contribution from successful Agricultural productivity growth stimulates rural non-farm
agricultural transformation (Datt and Ravallion, 1998a, growth, especially where infrastructure and the investment
1998b; Ravallion and Chen, 2004). climate are already in place (Barnes and Binswanger, 1986;
Hazell and Haggblade, 1991). The linkage has proven most
powerful when agricultural growth is driven by broad-
based productivity increases in a rural economy dominated
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion most by small farms, as in much of Asia (Mellor, 1976). Small-
prominently used as a measure of inequality of income distribution or to medium-sized farm households typically have more
inequality of wealth distribution. It is defined as a ratio with values favorable expenditure patterns for promoting growth of the
between 0 and 1: the numerator is the area between the Lorenz curve of local non-farm economy, including rural towns, since they
the distribution and the uniform distribution line; the denominator is the
area under the uniform distribution line. Thus, a low Gini coefficient
spend higher shares of income on agricultural goods and
indicates more equal income or wealth distribution, while a high Gini services, which are generally more labour intensive
coefficient indicates more unequal distribution. (Mellor, 1976; King and Byerlee, 1978; Hazell and Roell,
2007 The Authors. Journal compilation 2007 United Nations.
Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi / Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262 255

1983). The increased demand for non-farm goods leads to performance of agriculture over the 1990s, where its
a much larger increase in employment, which is a key average growth rate stayed above the population growth
vehicle for poverty reduction (Mellor, 2001). rate, rural poverty increased significantly. In 199091, rural
In Pakistan, non-farm growth is closely linked with poverty was 25.2% against 38.65% in 200203 (see Table 1).
agricultural growth since peasant farmers spend a large Poverty in Pakistan is characterized by large amounts
portion of their incremental income on locally produced, of clustering around the poverty line. According to the
non-agricultural goods, including consumer items, textiles Planning Commission, as much as 63% of the poor
and electronic goods and ornaments, thus generating population falls between the poverty line and a level of
employment and incomes in the adjoining areas. Construction consumption that is equivalent to 75% of the poverty line
activities are also accelerated with agricultural growth. In (GOP, 2003). This suggests a high proportion of poverty
addition, there appears to be a higher incidence of vulnerable population exists as a result of changing
vulnerability of falling into and remaining in poverty economic conditions. The Gini Coefficient, a measure of
among households which are dependent solely on inequality, has also increased significantly during 1990
agriculture. Rural areas that are well connected with the (See Table 1). So even though rural incomes were
urban areas seem to be more prosperous, in part because increasing in the 1990s, there were increasing distributional
the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas results asymmetries that were also coming in. The rich, in rural
either in labour reallocation or migration. In both cases, areas, continued to get richer, while the rural poor became
human capital plays a positive and significant role and the poorer. These figures do show that the share of the middle
poorest of the poor possess neither the human capital nor classes has also gone down.
the resources to migrate. This vulnerable group needs During the 1990s, the government reduced subsidies in
special attention. agricultural inputs. Fertilizer, pesticide and seed markets
were directly hit by these cuts while the prices of fuel,
electricity and water rose. This might have affected the cost
4. Poverty of production and income levels.

Poverty can be recognized by the deprivation of economic,

cultural and social rights. Poverty means hunger, lack of 5. Agriculture growth
access to medical facilities, and poor access to basic
services such as electricity and water supply (World Bank, Until the late 1960s, Pakistan produced a surplus of food
2001). It means being unable to send children to school and items and had enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for
often needing them to work instead. A common method being a net exporter of food products as well as cash crops.
used to measure poverty is based on incomes or consumption Thereafter, this position was retained intermittently for a
levels. A person is considered poor if his or her consumption short time. Since the early eighties, due to high population
or income falls below a minimum level necessary to meet growth, water shortage and frequent natural calamities like
basic needs. This minimum level is called the poverty line. floods, import of food items has become indispensable. The
What is necessary to satisfy basic needs varies across time average annual agriculture growth rate over the 1990s was
and societies, therefore, poverty lines vary in time and 4.54% which was lower than the average in the 1980s.
place. Every country uses lines which are appropriate to its Agricultural output over the 1990s varied from year to year.
level of development, societal norms and values. When Although the growth rate was slightly lower, it remained
estimating poverty worldwide, the same reference poverty positive throughout except for the period 199293. The
line has to be used and expressed in a common unit across country witnessed unprecedented drought during 200001
countries, therefore, for the purpose of global aggregation and 200102 and, consequently, agriculture registered
and comparison, the World Bank uses reference lines set at negative growth in these two years. The next two years
US$ 1 and US$ 2 per day in 1993 (World Bank, 2001). witnessed a modest recovery in agricultural growth as a
Poverty in rural areas of Pakistan during the 1960s was result of improvement in the availability of water for
42.28%. However the incidence of rural poverty decreased irrigation purposes. In 200405, remarkable growth
in the 1970s (ADB, 2002; Bari, 2003). This was the period reached as high as 7.5% (GOP, 2005a).
when private investment in agriculture reached its peak.
There was also very heavy out-migration from the rural
areas which resulted in increased foreign remittances, a 6. Population growth
major reason behind falling poverty trends in the country.
Declining trends in poverty continued in the 1980s, The population of Pakistan has increased from 33 million
largely due to the inflow of remittances and the relatively at the time of independence in 1947 to 153.95 million in
better performance of the agriculture sector (ADB, 2002; 2005, making it the seventh most populous country in
IUCN, 2002). However, since the late 1980s, rural poverty the world. The population grew at an average rate of
levels have started to rise. Despite the fairly strong 3% per annum from 1951 until the mid-1980s. Population
2007 The Authors. Journal compilation 2007 United Nations.
256 Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi / Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262

growth slowed to an average rate of 2.6% per annum However, this assumption denied the unequal power
between 1985 and 2000. Since 200001 the countrys relationships which exist between men and women and
population has grown at an annual average rate of almost between people of different castes, races and classes
2.2%. The current growth rate is considerably high compared (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2001). Gender discriminatory
with the average population growth of developed and practices are prevalent in Pakistani society. Women and
developing countries which is 0.9 and 1.7% respectively girls experience intra-household discrimination in food
(GOP, 2005a). distribution, healthcare and education. This is evident from
gender disaggregated statistics whereby female literacy is
only 42% as compared to 65% for men and gender gaps
7. Agricultural growth and poverty persist at all levels of the education system (GOP, 2007).
Pakistan is also one of the few countries in the world where
Evidence consistently shows that agricultural growth is the sex ratio is biased in favor of men and there are 108
highly effective in reducing poverty. Gallup et al. (1997) men to every 100 women (GOP, 2005b).
reported that every 1% increase in per capita agricultural Womens participation in the labour market in Pakistan
output led to a 1.61% increase in the incomes of the poorest is determined by rigid gender role ideologies, social and
20% of the population. Thirtle et al. (2001) concluded cultural restrictions on womens mobility and occupational
from a major cross-country analysis that, on average, every segregation. Another important barrier to women working
1% increase in agricultural yields reduced the number of for pay in the rural sector is the time burden imposed by
people living on less than US$ 1 a day by 0.83%. Broad- domestic tasks, especially the collection of water and
based agricultural productivity growth raises incomes of firewood. In rural communities, the impoverishment is very
poor farm households as well as households of landless acute in households critically dependent on womens labour
labourers who primarily depend on agricultural wages. for survival, due to the relatively lower skills base of
Increased agricultural productivity also brings strong women generally, and their restricted mobility. As a result,
indirect benefits for the poor. The most important pro-poor women find it difficult to compete for access to social and
linkage is generated by the effects of agricultural productive assets on an equal footing with men.
productivity growth on food prices (Timmer, 1997). The
poor typically spend a high share of their income on staple
foods, and therefore they benefit from a productivity- 9. Agriculture growth and the role of gender
induced decline in the real prices of staple foods. Benefits
are largest for the urban poor and landless labourers, but In Pakistan, women typically do not own land and, when
even many poor farmers benefit, since they are net food they do, they typically do not control it (Morrison et al.,
purchasers. Widely shared increases in incomes of farmers 2007). Land rights are regulated by Islamic law; however,
and farm workers also reduce poverty by providing a general practice deviates from principle to the detriment of
market for labour-intensive consumer goods. women. According to Agarwal (1994) in South Asia the
Agriculture makes important contributions to nutrition, gap between female ownership and control is due to a mix
food security, and macroeconomic stability beyond the pro- of interrelated factors including, among other things,
poor growth linkages (Timmer, 2002). At the micro level, norms which circumscribe womens mobility and social
inadequate and irregular access to food reduces labour interactions, illiteracy, and male control over (access to)
productivity and decreases investment in human capital technology, information, and labour.
(Bliss and Stern, 1978; Strauss, 1986; Fogel, 1994). Men use family labour in the field and female members
Drawing on a sample of 97 countries, Nadav (1996) found are not paid but are fed, clothed and provided with a dowry
that nutritional levels had a large and highly significant by fathers at the time of marriage; ornaments by husbands;
impact on economic growth. Fogel (1991) has also reported and when widowed, shelter by sons (Panhwar, 1998). The
that increased caloric intake reduced mortality and raised productive work done within the household and in
productivity amongst the working poor during the early agriculture fields by women has been ignored and not much
stages of Western Europes development. Overcoming attempt has been made to incorporate the value of such
hunger and malnutrition is now explicitly recognized as the activities within the national accounts. This is the main
first Millennium Development Goal. reason behind the exceptionally low female labour
participation rate of 18.93% compared to 71.97% for men
in Pakistan (GOP, 2007).
8. Poverty and gender aspects In order to strengthen the roles of women in agriculture,
and thereby improve their status, women should be paid and
Until recently women were considered in rural development have control over the cash earned as a result of their labour.
programmes as adjuncts to their husbands, or as daughters Greater control of income by women will enhance their
or mothers. It was assumed that womens positions would control over decision making, positively affect the wealth
improve as the economic prosperity of their husbands did. of the family, especially girls, and may help in closing the
2007 The Authors. Journal compilation 2007 United Nations.
Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi / Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262 257

income and education gaps between genders (Morrison be high for those who depend solely on livestock or on
et al., 2007). Increasing the education and income level small land (Nazli, 2003) as the income from the former
of women, in the long run, will not only contribute to the accounts for only 1.84% of rural incomes (Malik, 2005).
quality of the labour force and hence to productivity, but This clearly indicates that the poor tend to be landless
also to food security through a lower rate of population livestock owners or small landholders who do not own
growth. livestock.

10. Sources of income in rural households 11. Land reform and security of land tenure

The major sources of income in rural Pakistan are The literature has consistently underlined the key role of
farming, agricultural wages and salaries and domestic and relatively equitable land distribution and the dominance of
international remittance. According to Malik (2005), small-scale family farming in realizing the potential of pro-
farm crops/products accounted for 49.49%, wages and poor growth. Work carried out by Vollrath (2006) shows a
salaries accounted for 35.81%, domestic and international significant negative relationship between land inequality as
remittance accounted for 11.14%, farming live product measured by the Gini coefficient and output per hectare.
accounted for 1.84% and rental income for 1.73% of A drop in the Gini coefficient for the size of operational
average household income in rural areas. Arif, Nazli land holdings of one standard deviation would increase
and Haq (2000) and Adams and He (1995) found that output per hectare by 8.5%. Jeon and Kim (2000) have
wages, salaries and self-employment income are the documented significant productivity gains from the land
major sources of non-farm income. For the self-employed, reforms undertaken in Korea in the 1950s which limited
wholesale and retail trade appear to be the most important the amount of land any individual could own. Besley and
economic activities, whereas wage employees are con- Burgess (2000) find that land reforms in India were
centrated in the construction sector. The construction associated with lower poverty and higher agricultural
sector absorbs most of the unskilled and low-skilled wages. They do find that land reforms had their greatest
labour. effect in those Indian states with the greatest initial land
The majority of the non-poor are large landholders and inequality. On the other side, increase in population is
depend on crops, however a significant percentage of non- proportionate to the decrease in the number of large and
poor are small landholders that depend on both crops mid-sized farms. Excessive land fragmentation and sub-
and livestock. Livestock is an important component of division of landholdings from generation to generation are
livelihood in rural Pakistan as 3035 million people are also causing a persistent decline in the size of farms and
involved in livestock raising and these contribute 35 to therefore in agricultural productivity. The poor households
40% of their income (GOP, 2007). Nazli (2003) found in all the countries studied had a larger family size with a
that 47% of rural households depend either on farm or greater dependency ratio.
livestock for their livelihood while 13% of households Landlessness and the limited access to land is a glaring
depend solely on livestock. Adams and He (1995) have feature of rural poverty in Pakistan. Smaller farms tend to
termed livestock as an inequality reducing source of be less diversified and unable to cope with vulnerability.
income. An increase of activities in this sector has Table 2 shows the agricultural land distribution by farm
important consequences for poverty reduction in the size in Pakistan. Land distribution is much skewed. Eighty-
country, since a little support enables a landless farmer to one percent of farms owned are less than 5 hectares in
generate his income stream. However poverty is found to size and cover only 38.7% of the total farm area. Only

Table 2. Classification of farms in Pakistan by size

Size of farm (acres) Number of farms (%) Farm area (%)

1960 1972 1980 1990 2000 1960 1972 1980 1990 2000

Under 5 19.0 28.2 34.1 47.5 57.6 3.0 5.2 7.1 11.3 15.5
5 to < 12.5 44.3 39.9 39.4 33.4 28.1 23.6 25.2 27.3 27.5 27.9
12.5 to < 25 23.8 21.1 17.3 12.2 8.8 27.0 26.6 24.7 21.5 19.1
25 to < 50 9.0 7.7 6.5 4.7 3.9 19.0 18.8 17.8 15.8 16.3
50 to < 150 3.3 2.7 2.4 1.8 1.2 16.0 15.1 14.7 13.9 9.6
> 150 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.2 11.5 9.1 8.5 10.1 11.6
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

Source: UN (2000).

2007 The Authors. Journal compilation 2007 United Nations.

258 Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi / Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262

6.8% of large farms hold more than 10 hectares, accounting years. The government is expecting that it will boost
for 39.8% of the farm area. Small farms tend to use agriculture output, productivity and employment in rural
farming systems that are more labour intensive and less areas in a sustained manner and will help reduce poverty,
risky, while big farms prefer farming systems that are more particularly in rural areas. However, unsuitable rules for
intensive in capital as they can afford to take risks in the acquiring access to land can lead to environmental degradation.
hope of higher returns. The implementation of the Pakistan governments land
Because of highly skewed distribution of land capitalization policy will negatively impact on the quality
ownership, the incidence of sharecropping in Pakistan has of the environment since some land in the capitalization
increased in recent years. Poverty among sharecroppers has project is in the forest reserve and other protected areas.
been found to be considerably higher. However, further However, environmental degradation has not been at the
research is needed to understand tenancy and share- centre of any government policies in the past decade. The
cropping arrangements and to find ways to address poverty impact of government policy should be examined, since it
among those groups. In general, ways that increase the will not only affect the well-being of the poor, but also the
opportunity of the poor to earn increased incomes and quality of natural resources and the environment.
methods to heighten their security and empower them
will lead to poverty reduction. This suggests broad based
land reforms are required to ensure equitable access to 13. Access to education
productive resources and the restructuring of rural society
on an egalitarian line. Such efforts have met with varying Although land and labour are the most important assets of
degrees of success in different countries depending on the the poor in the early stages of growth, access to education
correlation of socio-political forces. and capital is more important in modernizing agriculture
There is also a need to concentrate more on income and rural non-farm sector development. Agricultural
sources that are independent of land in order to reduce rural productivity, especially in modernizing agriculture,
poverty. And, in order to reduce the dependence on the rural non-farm growth, and migration are all stimulated
agricultural sector, there is a need for generating off-farm by investment in rural education and access to well-
employment opportunities. This suggests providing easy functioning finance markets. Over the long term, efforts to
access to credit, technology and information in the short improve access to schooling in rural areas and especially
run. In addition, there is an urgent need in the long run to to improve the quality of that education remain the best
enhance human capital through better quality education, hope for equipping the rural poor with the skills to
training and health. participate in expanding on-farm and off-farm diversification
opportunities, including migration to better paid employment
in urban areas.
12. Additional land under cultivation

Out of 79.6 million hectares in the country, only 20 million 14. Production efficiency
hectares are available for farming in Pakistan (GOP, 2003).
Irrigated agriculture is practiced on 16 million hectares and Development economists say that industrialization cannot
the remaining 4 million hectares utilize rain fed (known as achieve the goal of prosperity without the simultaneous
Barani) farming. A sizeable portion of about 31 million transformation of the agricultural sector, the source of
hectares are forests and rangelands. The land use data for sustenance of the bulk of the nations people. Therefore, in
the last decade show that the total area under cultivation the presence of an ever increasing population, a rise in
remained static (GOP, 2003). Land availability has become agricultural productivity is imperative to support the
a constraint in increasing food production and supply. The growing needs of the people. Even though the last decade
diminishing supply of per capita arable land, combined has seen a concentration of development in the urban
with rapid population growth is resulting in rising manufacturing sector, Pakistan is still essentially an
urbanization. Significant improvements are required in agricultural economy. Rising agricultural productivity is
productivity growth in agriculture to increase agricultural central to economic development and has been studied by
output through technological innovations and efficiency. the historians of many countries (Allen, 2000). Crop yields
The government emphasis is on bringing additional land have received considerable attention and progress has been
under cultivation through provision of adequate and made in understanding their evolution.
efficiently managed water resources. According to the The productivity of land can potentially respond to land
Economic Survey of Pakistan 200405 (GOP, 2005a), the scarcity without outside aid. The yield of major crops in
government investment in on-going, water-related projects Pakistan is significantly below the demonstrated potential
will bring an additional 2.88 million acres of land under (see Table 3), which is attributed to poor quality seed, low
irrigation and 4.44 million cubic feet of additional water seed rate, conventional sowing methods, inefficient use of
will be available for the agricultural sector in the next 23 fertilizers, poor management practices and low level of
2007 The Authors. Journal compilation 2007 United Nations.
Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi / Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262 259

Table 3. Value addition and potential yield gaps of various crops in Pakistan

Crops Share in total value added in Share in GDP (%) National Average Yield Potential Yield (Tonnes Yield Gaps
agriculture (%) (GOP, 2006) (GOP, 2006) (Tonnes per hectare) (GOP, 2006) per hectare) (UN, 2000) (Tonnes per hectare)

Cotton (lint) 8.6 1.9 0.682 1.4 0.718

Wheat 13.7 3.0 2.61 6.4 3.8
Rice 6.1 1.3 2.117 9.5 7.38
Sugar cane 3.4 0.7 48.86 160.0 111.15
Maize 3.48 6.9 3.42

Sources: GOP (2006); UN (2000).

farm mechanization. The production efficiency can be Current globalization has affected all countries with an
improved through the use of appropriate technologies. aggressive market based economy. The industrial sector is
Researchers in environmental economics, demographics dominating and agriculture is getting commercialized due
and population studies are generally in agreement that to private sector investment. The technologies are generated
improvements in agricultural productivity will break the based on demand. These technologies may not be within
populationpovertyenvironmental degradation cycle. The the reach of the small farmers and the old technologies are
first aim of the government of Pakistan should be to also getting outdated as the products are not of the right
enhance the productivity of the agricultural sector through quality to compete in the new global markets. Improved
the provision of required capital inputs to accelerate the crop varieties could easily be adopted by small farmers, but
transformation process. These inputs range from provision it may not be the case with other technologies such as
of easy credit to the small farmers, availability of irrigation, machinery, high tech agriculture, etc. These are
unadulterated fertilizer and pesticide, tractor and harvester more favorable to commercial farmers; the poor may not
services, improvement in the efficiency of the vast adopt them or may do so with a long time lag when
irrigation system, utilization of cultivable wastes and conditions become favorable.
finally farmers education. Agricultural research has led to significant increases in
Agricultural technologies and techniques are constantly productivity and enhanced incomes in developing countries
changing and farmers need to be made aware of and know (Lipton and Longhurst, 1989). The development of improved
how to use agricultural innovations for the exploitation of cultivators and management practices, mechanization,
inherent yield potentials. As evident in Asian countries, the improved plant nutrition and crop protection technologies
shift into cash cropping will press farmers to sacrifice their have been in the forefront of contributions to increased crop
own food crops and lead to more food insecurity. yields in many developing countries. The green revolution,
The prices of inputs in the production process have to which predominated in the early 1960s contributed to
be rationalized to reduce the costs of cultivation, which unprecedented increases in food production. Wheat and
inevitably push up food prices. The development of the rice yields increased several fold. In the 1970s, due to
agro-business and the service sector in rural areas is the impact of the green revolution, rural poverty declined
imperative to absorb the pressure of surplus labour. The as agricultural growth and purchasing power of the people
existence of the powerful informal sector with large rose. Advances in agricultural science and technology have
landholders exerting control over the rural labour and increased productivity and have a significant role in the
capital market has to be abolished for the transformation quest to improve food and nutritional security and reduce
mechanisms to have any effect. the number of poor.
A study in India (Chadha, 2002) has indicated that new
technologies generally benefit the poor after a time lag.
15. Technological developments in agriculture Even the green revolution technologies, which initially worked
against the poor, benefited them later on. Therefore, the
Agriculture has strong direct forward linkages to agricultural benefits of technology will accrue to the second generation
processing and backward linkages to input-supply industries and not necessarily to those who are currently in the grip
(Johnston and Mellor, 1961). It is known empirically that of poverty. This indicates that research should be targeted
a large share of manufacturing in the early stages of towards poor farmers over the short term, as well as for
development is agriculturally related (Pryor and Holt, long-term development. In addition, the government should
1999; Gemmell et al., 2000). In addition, technological make arrangements to provide the poor with the knowledge
change and productivity growth in agriculture were and skills needed to enable new technology to benefit them.
linked to lower food prices, which in turn held down This cast some light on the researchpoverty alleviation linkage.
urban wages and stimulated industrialization and structural The Asian successes were generated by a technological
transformation. breakthrough in the form of high yielding varieties of rice
2007 The Authors. Journal compilation 2007 United Nations.
260 Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi / Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262

and wheat, which provided a historically unprecedented cultivate steep slopes without conservation, overgraze
jump in agricultural productivity, especially when farmers rangelands and make unbalanced fertilizer applications.
also had access to fertilizer and irrigation. While consistent Land degradation then leads to reduced productivity: a
productivity gains have been achieved since then, growth lower response to the same inputs or, where farmers
has been much slower, and there are concerns about yield possess the resources, a need for higher inputs to maintain
stagnation. crop yields and farm incomes. This increases land shortage
In the present scenarios, biotechnology has emerged thus accentuating the cycle.
as a novel area of scientific endeavour with huge potential
to realize the dream of sustainable agriculture. Being
enriched by inputs from both conventional and modern 17. Poverty reduction strategy
scientific experimentation like genomic research, bio-
technology could prove a panacea for uplifting degraded Over the past several decades, there has been increasing
socio-economic and scientific infrastructure on a sound acceptance worldwide that rapid economic growth over a
basis in all developing countries like Pakistan. Across prolonged period is essential for poverty reduction. At the
the globe, intensive work is going on to exploit biotech macro level, economic growth implies greater availability
knowledge augmented with genome reshuffling to address of public resources to improve the quantity and quality of
major agricultural and environmental issues like salinity, education, health and other services. At the micro level,
drought and biodiversity degradation which the green economic growth creates employment opportunities,
revolution has so far failed to resolve. However, the recent increases the income of the people and, therefore, reduces
developments in biotechnology are driven by private and poverty. Economic growth also benefits the poor, but only
commercial agricultural interests and we are yet to see any if effective measures are taken focusing on and directly
impact on food crops grown by small-scale farmers in the empowering them. Therefore, rapid growth is vital, but it
developing world. has to be sustained and targeted for a meaningful reduction
In Pakistan, a major portion of irrigated and rain-fed area in poverty. Many developing countries have succeeded in
is salt affected. Since the green revolution, different strategies boosting growth for a short period. But only those that have
based on physio-chemical methodologies have been proposed achieved higher economic growth over a long period have
by scientific communities. Admittedly, some success stories seen a lasting reduction in poverty, East Asia being a classic
exist within the domain of these approaches but in most example.
cases, these proved timely. None of these helped the farming A vibrant agriculture in Pakistan is central to the
sector on a sustainable and long-term basis. Particularly, wellbeing of the largest and most rapidly growing section
under natural conditions, it has not been possible to reap a of the population living in rural villages (Coxhead and
large harvest due to the arid conditions. Drought coupled Jayasuriya, 1994), as well as for the welfare of the urban
with salt affected conditions has proved a major limiting population and those working in agro-industrial enterprises.
factor in the success of these conventional approaches to In the past 20 years, the country has generated economic
the attainment of sustainable agriculture. growth and strengthened its macroeconomic indicators by
Likewise the pest problem remained unresolved and implementing macroeconomic reforms. Like many other
became more severe. About 3050% of food produced developing countries, Pakistan has also made significant
becomes victim to pests each year. In addition, extensive efforts to integrate its economy with the rest of the world
use of pesticides on crops has yielded contaminated by lowering tariffs and taking measures to open its
commodities. Indiscriminate use of pesticides has also economy for investment. The performance of the economy
played havoc with environmental quality, biodiversity and remained dismal in the 1990s which caused poverty to rise.
public health in many parts of the country. However, accounting for the rising trends in poverty during
the 1990s, the Government adopted a strategy for poverty
reduction in 2001. This strategy focuses mainly on five
16. Poverty and land degradation areas which include i) accelerating economic growth and
maintaining macroeconomic stability; ii) investing in
The impact of population on agricultural production includes human capital; iii) augmenting targeted interventions; iv)
low land per capita, intensive use of land, and a higher expanding social safety nets and v) improving governance
household income generation dependency ratio on land. (GOP, 2003).
The two most important driving forces behind the land Agriculture plays an important role in economic
degradation in Pakistan are limited land resources and development, such as provision of food to the nation,
increase in population. The result is small farms, low increase in exports, transfer of manpower to non-agricultural
production per person and increasing landlessness. Land sectors, contribution to capital formation, and securing
shortage and poverty, taken together, lead to non- markets for industrialization. Improvement in agricultural
sustainable land management practices, the direct cause of productivity is the answer to realization of each of these
degradation. Poor farmers are forced to clear forests, goals. Historical records have shown that agricultural
2007 The Authors. Journal compilation 2007 United Nations.
Abdul Waheed Bhutto and Aqeel Ahmed Bazmi / Natural Resources Forum 31 (2007) 253262 261

productivity has been growing due to the introduction of country giving impetus to the growth of agriculture and
modern technologies, commercialization of agriculture, rural industries, raising the incomes of small farmers and
increased availability of capital, factor shifts from artisans and increasing the employment opportunities for
agriculture to non-agricultural sectors, etc. This whole the rural poor, in general. The above trend in agricultural
process could be called agricultural transformation, to growth will increase income and reduce poverty.
which the contribution of each of these factors has been The high rate of population growth needs to be checked
quantified in the existing literature. for the increased agricultural productivity to have any
A successful strategy for alleviating poverty and hunger significant effect on poverty. Greater control of income by
in developing countries must begin by recognizing that they women will positively affect the wealth of the family,
are mainly rural phenomena and that agriculture is at the especially girls, and help to close the income and education
heart of the livelihoods of rural people. The dilemma of gaps between genders, and should increase food security
Pakistans poverty reduction strategy is that it is aimed at through a lower rate of population growth.
poverty reduction without boosting agriculture. The spread Legitimate efforts are required to review biotech
of irrigation networks and modern farming techniques are approaches in respective fields and future research work
both still missing in the policy packages. Pakistan has great should be based on novel ideas that have direct impacts on
potential in agriculture and should keep on working on its food crops grown by small-scale farmers. There is also a
agricultural development, which is crucial for poverty dire need to upgrade the infrastructure of research institutes
reduction. All our poverty reduction strategies should by undertaking reforms proposed by the scientific
primarily focus on development of the agriculture sector communities. Efforts should be made to rehabilitate degraded
for the sake of the poor and industrialization for employment landscapes for production of high quality commodities.
generation leading to reduction of poverty. Other issues that Exploitation of biological alternatives employed for
need to be addressed are, (i) soil erosion and degradation; sustainable crop production and environmental remediation
(ii) inappropriate fertilizer and pesticide use; (iii) should be promoted at academic and research institutes to
inadequate availability of quality seed; (iv) inadequate resolve the different agricultural and environmental issues.
markets infrastructure; (v) non-availability of adequate
farm power; and (vi) weakness of agricultural research and
extension services. References
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