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Agriculture in Pakistan

Pakistan is basically an agricultural country and thus agriculture is the 'backbone' of the economy and the mainstay of our national economic life. It contributes about 19.5% to the GDP, employs about 42.3% of the total labor-force, provides livelihood directly to 70% of the rural population, and earns about 60% of the total value of exports. It thus plays a central role in national development, food security and poverty reduction. The rapid growth of Pakistan’s urban areas indicates that demand for high-value perishable products such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat is rising.

Overall, it meets the food needs of the population. But unfortunately, the backbone is aching badly now and may suffer crack under the pressure on soil discordance and natural calamities. Government is focusing to increase the yield for rural growers through major infrastructure investments including reliable transport networks and other building blocks for modern supply chains. CPEC will go a long way in the enhancement of agribusiness benefits by tapping value-added product innovation and supply chain.

Geographical area of Pakistan according to agricultural statistics

The total geographical area of Pakistan according to agricultural statistics of Pakistan 1998-99 is 79.61 million hectares (Mha) (about 197 million acres), of which only 25 % or 19.82 million hectares (about 48.96 million acres) are currently under cultivation. Out of the total land area of Pakistan, the total land area of Punjab is 20.6 mha (about 50.90 million acres), out of which 54 % or 11.04 mha (or 27.28 million acres) are cultivated.

The total land area of Sindh is 14.1 mha (or 34.84 million acres), out of which nearly 39 % or 5.45 mha (or 13.45 million acres) are cultivated. The total land area of Baluchistan is 34.7 mha (or 85.74 million acres), out of which only 4 % or 1.4 mha (or 3.46 million acres) are cultivated, and the total land area of NWFP comprises 10.2 mha (25.20 million acres), out of which nearly 10% or 1.93 mha (or 4.77 million acres) are cultivated.

During 2016-17, the performance of the agriculture sector remained up to the mark and achieved growth of 3.46 % against the target of 3.5 % and last year’s meager growth of 0.27 %. This was possible by better harvesting of major crops through greater availability of agriculture inputs like water, agriculture credit, and intensive fertilizers off take. The growth in crops was registered at 3.02 % against the negative growth of 4.97 % during the same period last year.

The growth of sub-sector of important crops, other crops, and cotton ginning posted growths of 4.12%, 0.21%, and 5.59%, respectively against last year growths of -5.47%, 0.59% and -22.12% respectively. Other sub-sectors of Agriculture like Livestock, Forestry, and Fishing posted growth of 3.43%, 14.49%, and 1.23%, respectively. The upturn in crop yields by significant margins occurred both on account of increase in production and improved yields. Maize production increased 16.30% against 6.77% last year, Sugarcane 12.41% against 4.23%, Cotton 7.59% against -28.96 and Rice 0.71% against -2.88% last year. Only wheat production growth remained slightly low at 0.46% compared to 2.18% last year. Other crops accounted for 11.03% in value addition of agriculture grew by 0.21% during 2016-17 against 0.59% during the same period last year due to decline in the production of vegetables and oilseeds by posting negative growth of 0.73% and 5.93%, respectively.

Livestock accounts 58.33% share in the agriculture. It witnessed a growth of 3.43% compared to 3.36% during the corresponding period last year. The Fishing sector contribution stands at 2.12% in agriculture value addition and recorded a growth of 1.23% compared to 3.25% growth of same period last year. Forestry sector having the contribution of 2.33% in the agriculture value addition witnessed a significant growth of 14.49% during 2016-17.

agricultulre growth percentage

The country produces wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, maize and other cereal in sufficient quantities. Wheat is the leading food grain in Pakistan. Now the wheat production has reached to over 21 million tons annually. Rice is the second most important food grain. The important fruits are date palm, apples, citrus, mangoes, bananas. The production of all major food commodities in Pakistan have shown an upward trend, but the increase was most significant in the case of poultry meat, fruits, eggs, red meat, and vegetables. Pulses also showed a substantial increase in production. Pakistan's major imports of food commodities include edible oils, sugar, tea, dry milk, and pulses. The country, however, is a major exporter of rice and cotton and other exports include fruits and some vegetables

During 2016-17, the availability of water for Kharif 2016 stood at 71.4 million acre feet (MAF) showing an increase of 9.0% over Kharif 2015 and 6.4% more than the normal supplies of 67.1 MAF. During Rabi season 2016-17, the water availability remained at 29.7 MAF, which is 9.7% less than Rabi 2015-16 and 18.4% less than the normal availability of 36.4 MAF.

Crop Situation

The important crops (wheat, rice, sugarcane maize and cotton) account for 23.85% of the value added in overall agriculture and 4.66% of GDP. The other crops account for 11.03% of the value added in overall agriculture and 2.15% of GDP. Livestock contributes 58.33% to agricultural value addition and 11.39% to GDP. Forestry contributes 2.33% to agricultural value addition and 0.46% to GDP. Fishing contributes 2.12% to agricultural value addition and 0.41% to GDP.

  1. Cotton

    During 2016-17, Cotton production was estimated at 10.671 million bales registering 7.6% increase over the production of 9.917 million bales during 2015-16 but was lower than the target of 14.1 million bales by a considerable margin. Cotton crop has 1.0% share in GDP and contributes 5.2% in agriculture value addition. The weaker than expected recovery in cotton production is mainly due to a sharp decline of 14.2% in the sowing area which stood at 2489 thousand hectares during 2016-17 compared to 2902 thousand hectares during the corresponding period of last year due to exceptional losses from previous year’s pest infestation and low domestic prices at the sowing time that pushed growers away from cotton to other competitive crops (sugarcane and maize).

    World Cotton Outlook

    The production and consumption of major cotton growing countries are given in Table.

  2. Sugarcane

    During 2016-17, the production of sugarcane portrayed a very promising picture and reached to a historical high of 73.6 million tonnes showing an increase of 12.4% over the production of 65.5 million tonnes during 2015-16 and comfortably exceeded the target of 67.5 million tonnes by a considerable margin of 9.0%. Its production accounted for 3.4% of agriculture’s value addition and 0.7% in overall GDP. The area cultivated for sugarcane crop reached 1217 thousand hectares compared to last year’s area of 1131 thousand hectares showing an increase of 7.6%. The production increased due to increase in area cultivated as it shifted from other competitive crops facing frequent distress, as for example from a cotton crop which suffered on account of pest attacks.

  3. Rice

    Rice accounts for 3.0% of the value added in agriculture and 0.6% of GDP. During 2016-17, rice crop was sown on an area of 2724 thousand hectares showing a decrease of 0.6% over the last years is of 2793 thousand hectares. Rice production stood at 6849 thousand tonnes achieving its targeted production of 6838 thousand tonnes and showing an increase of 0.7% over a corresponding period of last year’s production of 6801 thousand tonnes. Rice area decreased due to decline in domestic prices of rice which reduced the area under the crop and growers shifted to sugarcane and maize crop.

  4. Wheat

    Wheat accounts for 9.6% of the value added in agriculture and 1.9% of GDP of Pakistan. During 2016-17, wheat crop was sown on an area of 9052 thousand hectares witnessing a decrease of 1.9% compared to 9224 thousand hectares during the same period last year. Wheat production was estimated at 25.750 million tonnes during 2016-17, witnessing an increase of 0.5% over the last year’s production of 25.633 million tonnes. The production increased due to a better supply of inputs which contributed in enhancing per hectare yield. The position is given in Table and Figure.

  5. Maize

    Maize contributes 2.7% to the value added in agriculture and 0.5 % to GDP. During 2016-17, the area sown under maize crop has increased to 1334 thousand hectares, showing a significant increase of 12.0 % over last year’s sown area of 1191 thousand hectares. Maize crop production stood at a record high of 6.130 million tonnes during 2016-17, showing a major increase of 16.3 % over the last year’s production of 5.271 million tonnes. The record production has been achieved on the back of intensive use of critical agricultural inputs (fertilizers) coupled with an increase in area sown. The position is presented in Table and Figure.

  6. Other Crops

    Gram is the largest Rabi pulse crop, accounting for 76 % of total production of pulses in the country it registered an increase of 25.5 % in production during 2016-17. The production of Bajra also posted an increase in its production by 1.7 % during 2016-17 as compared to the same period last year. The production of Barley, Jowar, Rapeseed & Mustard, and Tobacco has witnessed a decrease in production during 2016-17 by posting negative growth of 9.8 %, 7.5 %, 3.2 % and 2.6 %, respectively over the same period last year due to decrease in area sown.

    During 2016-17, the production of Moong, Onion, and Chillies recorded positive growth of 27.4 %, 2.7 % and 0.2 %, respectively, comparing to the production of the corresponding period last year. The reason for the increase in production is increased in area cultivated. However, the production of pulses Masoor (Lentil), Mash and Potato decreased by 17.9 % 15.3 % and 3.2 %, respectively.


    The major oilseed crops in the country include Sunflower, Canola, Rapeseed/Mustard, and Cotton. Total availability of edible oils during 2015-16 remained at 3.726 million tons of which local production contributed 0.462 million tons (14 %) and the import share of edible oil/oilseeds was 3.264 million tons (86 %). The import bill of edible oil during 2015-16 was Rs.284.546 billion (US$ 2.710 billion). During 2016-17 (July-March), 1.98 million tons edible oil of value Rs.152.514 billion (US$ 1.457 billion) was imported which remained lower by 4.0 % during the same period of last year. Local production of edible oil during 2016-17 (July-March) is provisionally estimated at 0.446 million tons. Total availability of edible oil from all sources is provisionally estimated at 2.426 million tons during 2016-17 (July-March).


Fertilizer is the most important and expensive agricultural input. Its contribution to an increase in crop yield is from 30 to 50 %. Almost all of our soils are deficient in nitrogen, 90 % soils have a deficiency of phosphorus while 40 % are deficient in potash.

The domestic production of fertilizers during 2016-17 (July-March) decreased slightly by 0.3 % over the same period of last fiscal year. The imported fertilizer also decreased by Therefore, total availability of fertilizer also decreased marginally by 1.5 % during the current fiscal year. Total offtake of fertilizer nutrients witnessed increase by 30.5 %. Nitrogen offtake increased by 33 % while phosphate increased by 23.2 %. Potash offtake recorded a significant boost of 82.5 % during 2016-17 (July-March). Increase in offtake of fertilizer is due to substantial reduction in prices of all fertilizer products as a result of subsidy announcement by the government in June 2016 as detailed below:

  • Cash subsidy on phosphate fertilizer equivalent to Rs. 300 per 50 kg bag of DAP.
  • Reduction in GST on urea from 17 to 5 %.
  • Cash subsidy on nitrogenous fertilizer equivalent to Rs. 156 per 50 kg bag of urea.
  • Subsidy of Rs. 800 and Rs. 500 per bag of SOP and MOP respectively.

Federal Seed Certification & Registration Department (FSC&RD) is an attached department of Ministry of National Food Security & Research, with the mandate to regulate quality of seeds of various crops. Seed quality being a key input in crop production plays a vital role for sustainable agricultural production and national food security. Brief activities performed by department are as followed:


1. Registration of Seed Companies
  1. As per decision of the Working Group (for registration of new seed companies) in its 55th meeting, the registration of Seed Companies and other related issues were withheld till notification of Seed (Business Regulation) Rules, 2016.

  2. The Gazette Notification of Seed (Business Regulation) Rules, 2016 took place on 28th September, 2016. The Registration to do seed business comes under Section 22B with prescribed amount of fee for Seed Certification and Registration Services that will generate a sustainable amount to the government exchequer.

  3. Field Crop Inspection: A total of 199819.54 acres of different crops (wheat, cotton, paddy, maize, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables, fodders, barley and potato) offered by the public and private seed agencies were inspected for certification purposes.

  4. Seed Sampling &Testing: A total quantity of 428112 m.tons locally produced seed of major and minor crops was sampled and tested for purity, germination and seed health purposes.

  5. Seed Quality Monitoring in the Markets: Under the Seed Act Enforcement, 91 cases were filed in different Courts of Law against the seed dealers found selling substandard seeds and 24.69 m.tons seeds of different crops were seized.

  6. Imported Seed Consignment : A total quantity of 39.784 thousand m.tons of imported seed of various crops/hybrids (maize, paddy, sunflower, canola, fodders, potato, vegetables etc.) were tested under Seed (Truth in Labeling) Rules, 1991 at the port of entries i.e. Lahore and Karachi.

Central Seed Testing Laboratory, Islamabad

Central Seed Testing Laboratory (CSTL) Islamabad received approximately1126 seed samples from FSC&RD field stations through Quality Manager/Director. One thousand and thirty seven (1037) seed samples of different crops i.e. Wheat, Paddy, Cotton, Pulses and vegetables were tested for seed purity, seed moisture and other components. CSTL being International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) member laboratory participated in ISTA proficiency tests and CSTL received one sample (B. brizantha) from ISTA for seed purity, moisture determination and Other Seed Determination (OSD).

CSTL applied to ISTA through electronic communication for getting Accreditation status. Quality documents i.e. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), quality forms and technical procedures were prepared in compliance with ISTA accreditation procedures. Formal application and quality documents have already been submitted to ISTA secretariat for pre-evaluation. CSTL has qualified this pre-evaluation and final evaluation would be done by ISTA audit team tentatively in April, 2017. CSTL has also submitted quality and technical manuals to Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC) for final audit for getting national accreditation.

Seed Health Testing

Seed Health Testing Laboratory, FSC&RD has made headway towards laboratory accreditation by starting Inter Laboratory Comparison (ILC). Proficiency Testing (PT) or ILC with world renowned accredited laboratories is indispensable for laboratory accreditation. Subsequent upon the guidelines of ISTA, Seed Health Testing Committee, Department of DUS Testing and Seed Inspection, Centre for Seeds and Seedlings, NARO (NCSS), Japan has acceded to commence Inter Laboratory Comparison studies with Seed Health Testing Laboratory. In this connection, Seed Health Laboratory has received paddy seed samples infected with various diseases from Japan Laboratory. Results of the said analyses will be sent to Japan for ILC studies.

II. Updating of Seed Regulatory Framework
  1. Plant Breeder Rights Act, 2016

    Pakistan being a member of World Trade Organization (WTO) is obliged to provide rights to the breeders of new plant varieties under Article 27.3(b) of Trade Related Aspects for Intellectual Property Rights (TRIP’s) Agreement. This protection to the breeders of new plant varieties in various countries is provided in the shape of Plant Breeders’ Rights Law. The Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill, 2016 was passed by the National Assembly on 5th September, 2016 and transferred to the Senate. The Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research approved the Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill, 2016 on 26th October, 2016. On 23rd November, 2016, the Senate passed the Plant Breeders’ Bill, 2016. The Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill, 2016 after being approved by both the houses of the Parliament, was signed by the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan on 5th December, 2016.

  2. Importance of the Plant Breeder Rights Act, 2016

    In Seed Act, 1976, only the public sector was given the dominant role in seed development and registration processes and no role in this regard was assigned to the private sector.

    • The promulgation of PBR law in the country will not only complement the recently passed Seed (Amendment) Act, 2015 but would also assist the seed industry to usher in a new era of research based innovations and technology led developments.
    • At present the Plant Breeder Rights law is enforced in more than 74 countries of the world
    • Many foreign companies are reluctant to invest in our seed sector due to lack of protection for their products because of the absence of an effective variety protection system.
    • We are hopeful that after the promulgation of PBR law our seed industry would experience a quantum jump in terms of investment and transfer of modern technologies to harness the potential of hybrid plant varieties and other emerging technologies.
  3. Formulation of Plant Breeders’ Rights Rules, 2017

    An inter-ministerial and inter-departmental committee constituted by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research has finalized Draft Rules under the PBR Act, 2016, which have been circulated to concerned stakeholders to seek their viewpoints.

  4. Passage and Implementation of Seed (Amendment) Act, 2015

    After the passage of Seed (Amendment) Act, 2015 by the Parliament, Seed Rules, 2016 have been approved and circulated. Implementation of activities as a result of amendments in the Seed Act, are being expedited

  5. e) Impact of Seed (Amendment) Act, 2015 Rules
    • Private sector has been given larger role in all areas of seed testing, production, multiplication and processing.
    • Accredited seed testing laboratories allowed to be established by public and private seed sectors to enhance internal seed quality assurance and to link with national and international seed markets for export.
    • Effective deterrence is expected to be created by enhancement of penalties against sale of fake and substandard seed.
    • To bring discipline in the seed industry, mandatory registration of seed business has been introduced.
III. Distinctness, Uniformity & Stability (DUS) Examination

The DUS trials are performed by the FSC&RD. The Breeders have to submit seed sample of candidate variety along with the following to the FSC&RD of DUS testing.

Application for registration of the new variety
  • Detailed botanical description of the variety along with comparable variety closely resembling to candidate variety. It also includes parentage and brief breeding history.
Data regarding Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU)
  • True specimens of plants of the variety and plant parts.
  • On receiving seed samples, crop variety registration trials are carried out for two years at suitable locations, to determine DUS characteristics of the variety according to the stabilized descriptors.
  • A total of about 57 new candidate lines have been studied for DUS trials.
IV. Fruit Plant Certification
  • FSC&RD has registered one new fruit plant nursery established at Quetta to promote production and dissemination of disease free and true-to-type nursery fruit plants.
  • Registration cases of ten fruit plant nurseries are in-process.
  • Minimum Fruit Plant Certification Standards for citrus, mango and guava have been drafted and submitted to National Seed Council for approval.
  • Minimum Fruit Plant Certification Standards for olive have been drafted and are ready for submission to National Seed Council.
V. FSC&RD Development Initiatives

Following two developmental projects have been drafted by FSC&RD and submitted to Ministry of National Food Security & Research for approval

  • Up-gradation and Accreditation of Seed Testing Laboratory, FSC&RD, Karachi
  • Up-gradation of seed certification services in Baluchistan.
VI. International Collaboration

For seed sector development in Pakistan, FSC&RD International Cooperation section was in the process of deliberations during the period FY 2016-17 (July-March) through different cooperation proposals with the following countries and international organizations; ECO, Jordan, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Middle East, Germany, Bahrain, Qatar, Italy, FAO, Tajikistan, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, SAARC, China, Brazil, D-8 and Papua New Guinea.

During 2016-17 (July-March), a total number of 37,634 tractors were locally manufactured compared to the production of 21,229 during same period last year witnessing a significant increase of 77.3 % as the GST on locally manufactured/imported tractors have been reduced from 10 % to 5 % that has increased the demand of tractors.

On positive note the import of agriculture machinery has witnessed a significant growth of 25.6 % during FY 2016-17(July-March) compared to the corresponding period of last year as customs duty on import of harvesters and planters was reduced to zero to promote mechanized harvesting and planting operations in the country. The production and price of locally manufactured tractors are given in Table 2.15.

During the monsoon season (July-September) 2016, the normal average rainfall is 140.9 mm, while the actual rainfall received was 176.2 mm, which is 25.1 % above normal rainfall. During the post-monsoon season (October-December) 2016, the normal average rainfall is 26.4 mm, while the actual rainfall received was 3.0 mm, which was 88.6% below the normal rainfall. During winter season (January-March) 2017, normal average rainfall is 74.3 mm and the actual rainfall received was 75.5 mm, which was 1.6% above the normal average rainfall. Rainfall recorded during the monsoon, post monsoon and winter season is given in Table

Water Sector’s present and future strategies/policies are aimed at meeting the widening gap between demand and supply. It centers around two dimensional strategies; a) demand management and b) enhancing the water availability. The important mechanisms are to initiate market forces to convert water from social good to socio-economic good. The technical solution will be based on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach.

An amount of Rs.31.716 billion was allocated for water sector’s development projects/ programs during the FY 2016-17, out of which more than Rs.24.00 billion (76 %) are expected to be utilized by the end of June, 2017. The major water sector projects under implementation are shown in Table 2.18.

Landmark for FY 2016-17
  • Substantial completion (phase-I) of Kachhi Canal in Balochistan & Rainee Canal Sindh for irrigating 0.168 million acres (Phase-I).
  • Completion of Gomal Zam Dam in FATA/Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Darwat Dam (Sindh).
  • A sum of Rs 1,000 million will be expended for on-going works of Nai Gaj dam (Dadu, Sindh) to irrigate 28,800 acres of land and Power Generation of 4.20 MW.
  • Initiation physical works on Kurram Tangi Dam (Phase-I) in North Waziristan Agency and Mohmand Dam in Mohmand Agency FATA.
  • To save the water losses of the existing irrigation system, about Rs 900 million will be utilized for lining of small canals & minors in Punjab and Sindh during the FY 2016-17.
  • For the rehabilitation and improvement of existing irrigation canals in Punjab, Sindh & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa an amount of Rs 1,100 million are expected to be utilized during FY 2016-17.