NationalVOLUME 19 ISSUE # 27

Pakistan’s path to joining the top agricultural producing countries

Pakistan, with its significant reliance on agriculture, faces the challenge of lagging behind its neighboring countries and other global leaders in agricultural production. While agriculture contributes a substantial portion to the national economy, the country has much to learn from nations such as India, Russia, France, Mexico, Japan, and Germany, which excel in various aspects of agriculture. By adopting modern techniques, implementing long-term policies, and drawing inspiration from successful agricultural nations, Pakistan can strive to secure a position among the top agricultural producing countries.

Agriculture plays a pivotal role in Pakistan’s economy, being the largest sector and a major source of livelihood for the majority of the population. It contributes around 24 percent to the country’s GDP and employs half of the labor force, while also serving as the primary source of foreign exchange earnings. Despite its significance, the condition of farmers in Pakistan remains dire, with their quality of life largely unchanged over the past seven decades. Wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, and maize are some of the important crops grown in the country.

It is disheartening to note that Pakistan, despite possessing fertile land and an extensive irrigation network, does not rank among the top 10 agricultural producing nations globally. China, on the other hand, leads the list as an agricultural powerhouse. With just 7 percent of arable land, China manages to feed 22 percent of the world’s population. In the 20th century, China faced challenges in meeting its food demands, but advancements in farming policies and technologies enabled it to achieve self-sufficiency.

Surprisingly, Pakistan’s arable land area, as reported by the World Bank in 2020, stands at a significant 40.12 percent, compared to China’s 7 percent. This stark contrast raises questions for policymakers in Pakistan, as the country struggles to feed its own population, let alone export agricultural products. It is worth noting that China utilizes its land extensively for agriculture, even planting vegetables on roadsides and building walls. In the past, China lost one-fifth of its arable land, and currently only 10 to 15 percent of its land is suitable for agriculture. Despite these challenges, China remains the largest producer of rice and also cultivates soybeans, kaoliang (sorghum), wheat, millet, and corn.

The United States holds second position among the world’s top agricultural producers and is renowned for its advancements in agricultural science and technology. It serves as a role model for many countries in the agriculture sector, constantly developing through scientific soil and crop analysis, innovative machinery, and increased use of computers. Although Pakistan has a longstanding association with the US, it has failed to make significant efforts to import agricultural technology from its American counterparts.

Brazil secures third spot on the list of leading agricultural countries and has a rich historical background in agriculture. Approximately 41 percent of Brazil’s total land is arable, with a vast agricultural area spanning 867.4 million acres out of a total landmass of 2.1 billion acres. Sugarcane has been a priority crop for Brazil, with an annual production exceeding 600 million tonnes. Pakistan can learn valuable lessons from Brazil’s successful sugarcane cultivation, as well as its expertise in soybean production, which the country exports worldwide.

In conclusion, despite its significant contribution to the national economy and livelihoods, Pakistan’s agricultural sector faces numerous challenges. The country has vast arable land resources, but it lags behind in agricultural productivity compared to top-performing nations like China, the United States, and Brazil. To improve the situation, Pakistan must invest in advanced agricultural technologies, learn from successful models, and adopt modern farming practices. By doing so, it can enhance its agricultural output, improve the lives of farmers, and meet the growing demands of its population.

India, Pakistan’s neighboring country, outshines it in agricultural production. Agriculture provides livelihood to around 58% of Indians, making it their primary source of income. In recent data, agriculture contributes 17% to 18% of India’s GDP. India holds the title of being the largest producer of various fruits such as bananas, guava, mangoes, lemons, and papayas. It also excels in vegetable production, including chickpeas. Additionally, India is known for its production of spices like ginger, pepper, and chili. Furthermore, it holds the distinction of being the world’s largest wheat-producing country. Given the similarities in the agriculture sector between the two countries, Pakistan can learn from its neighbor’s best practices to increase crop production.

Russia secures fifth spot on the list of top agricultural producing countries. Approximately 13% of its agricultural land is used for cultivating sugar beets, wheat, and potatoes. The primary crops in Russia are rye, barley, oats, and maize. Despite its focus on the industrial economy, Russia boasts a significant agriculture industry, occupying around 6% of its total GDP and providing employment opportunities to 16% of the population.

Although France gained recognition as an industrial power, it remains prominent as an agricultural nation. With approximately 730,000 farms, agriculture, fishing, and forestry sectors support about 7% of the population. Agricultural activities, including the production of agricultural goods, engage a substantial portion of the French population.

Mexico, known for its rich culture, ancient ruins, and stunning beaches, ranks seventh among the top 10 agricultural producing countries. Historically, Mexico has been a producer of avocados, beans, tomatoes, peppers, maize, and more. The country also has a significant presence in agricultural exports. Crop production is a major feature of Mexican agriculture, accounting for a significant portion of its agricultural output.

While Japan is recognized for its technological advancements, it is also the eighth-ranked agricultural nation. Around 10% of the Japanese population resides on farms, supporting the country’s traditional food culture centered around rice, grains, fish, vegetables, and mountain plants.

Germany holds ninth position among the top agrarian countries, excelling in the production of pork, poultry, potatoes, milk, cereals, beef, sugar beets, cabbages, barley, and wheat. Additionally, Germany cultivates vegetables, fruits, and wine in many regions. Forestry and agriculture occupy approximately 80% of the country’s land, and around 87% of the population engages in farming activities on an average of 124 acres of land.

Despite experiencing frequent earthquakes, agriculture remains Turkey’s primary occupation. While industries and service sectors continue to grow, farming remains a major occupation in the country. Turkey is self-sufficient in food production due to favorable climate conditions, fertile soil, and significant rainfall that support the cultivation of various crops. Poultry farming is also prevalent in mountainous regions. Wheat takes the lead as the most produced grain in Turkey, followed by sugar beets, milk, and cows.

To overcome its agricultural limitations and join the ranks of the world’s leading agricultural nations, Pakistan must embrace innovation, modern technology, and best practices. Learning from countries like India, Russia, France, Mexico, Japan, and Germany can provide valuable insights and strategies for improving crop yields, diversifying agricultural produce, and optimizing farming techniques. With a well-planned and sustained approach, Pakistan has the potential to enhance its agricultural sector, contribute significantly to its GDP, provide livelihood opportunities, and ensure food security for its growing population. By embracing change and implementing effective policies, Pakistan can forge a path towards becoming a prominent player in global agricultural production.