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AGRICULTURE

AGRICULTURE As a result of the very significant changes in Pakistan’s economy since the country’s birth in 1947, agriculture has lost its preeminent position Its share in national output was much larger in 1947 but since then its contribution has declined as other sectors of the economy have grown In 1947, agriculture accounted for 53 percent of the Gross Domestic Product; by 2004, its share had declined to less than 23 percent This notwithstanding, as a result of the two “green revolutions”-one in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the other in the late 1980s and early 1990s-the agricultural sector has progressed from the state of subsistence to that of commercialization This transformation has had a profound impact on reducing the incidence of rural povertyIn the late 1940s-the years immediately following partition and the birth of Pakistan-less than one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was cultivated Sixty years later, in the early 2000s, this proportion has increased to more than one-fourth During this period, more than six million hectares of additional land came under cultivation, almost entirely because of an increase in irrigation In the late 1940s, 62 percent of the cultivated land was classified as irrigated; in the early 2000s, the proportion had increased to 76 percent The output of all major crops has increased significantly in the period since independence



The largest percentage of increase occurred for cotton and the least for wheat These increases were the result both of additional land devoted to these crops and greater productivity The sharp growth in the output of Pakistan’s main crops helped to alleviate rural poverty, particularly in the 1960s, the period of President Muhammad Ayub Khan In 1960-1970, for instance, food-grain output increased at the yearly rate of 5 percent, and per capita food availability increased at the rate of 23 percent a year There was a dramatic change in the situation in the 1970s, however-the period dominated by the socialist government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto In 1970-1979, food-grain output increased by 3 percent a year, but per capita food availability grew by only 032 percent per annum During the Ayub period, therefore, Pakistan nearly achieved food self-sufficiency During the 1970s, on the other hand, the country once again became dependent on large amounts of food importsIn the late 1980s, Pakistan witnessed the “second green revolution,” which saw an enormous increase in both the productivity and output of cotton, the mainstay of the country’s economy

The agricultural sector came under stress in the 1990s, however Pressure on the national budget reduced public-sector expenditure on the maintenance of the vast irrigation network, with the result that the availability of water per unit of irrigated land declined The agricultural sector also had to deal with pest attacks, in particular on cotton Consequently, in the 1990s, agricultural output failed to keep pace with growth in population and increase in domestic demandIn 2004, the government of President Pervez Musharraf initiated an ambitious program aimed at rehabilitating the vast irrigation system The aim was not only to make the country once again self-sufficient in food but also to become a major exporter of agricultural products

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