Agri-growth stagnant at 2.2 to 2.6% in 15 years

Pakistan Business Council (PBC) and Pakistan Agricultural Coalition (PAC) recently released the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) Agriculture Report 2023, which revealed that agriculture growth in Pakistan over the past 15 years has been constrained to a range of 2.2 to 2.6% annually as industry and services have driven the nation’s economic growth.

According to the report, “although progressive farmers in Pakistan are achieving 4.5 tonnes per hectare and other nations are accomplishing even more, wheat yields have remained close to three tonnes per hectare (30 maunds per acre).

Despite the fact that the government is heavily involved in wheat production, no significant investments in wheat seed development, mechanization, storage, and processing have been made.

The study revealed that there is also a notable variation between the maize and rice crops. Over the past 20 years, maize yields have increased by three times entirely due to private sector efforts, while rice exporters have provided farmers with high-yielding hybrid seeds and made mechanization investments.

The animal industry (mostly dairy and poultry) has led agricultural growth within the agricultural sector, while the five primary crops—wheat, cotton, maize, sugarcane, and rice—have slowed sector growth by expanding at a rate of about 1.1% per year in real terms for nearly two decades.

According to the report, these five crops are using up most of Pakistan’s agricultural resources (land, water, labor, etc.), but they aren’t providing the country’s citizens with the growth and prosperity they deserve. In contrast, growth in “other crops,” primarily fruits and vegetables, has been sporadic but slow over this time. As a result, according to the research, Pakistan’s food trade balance had a $3.6 billion deficit in the fiscal year 2022.

However, only three crops—wheat, rice paddy, and maize—have a farm gate value of about $12 billion, of which nearly $1 billion is wasted in terms of quality and quantity as a result of conventional drying methods, inadequate storage facilities, unethical business practices, and conventional logistics.

Government-driven agriculture must give way to private sector-driven agriculture,