The Green Revolution: Agriculture’s Key Role in Pakistan’s Development

The Significance of Agriculture

Pakistan, situated in the realm of developing nations, finds its economic sustenance intricately woven with the fabric of agriculture. A strikingly substantial 55% of Pakistan’s populace maintains direct or indirect links with this sector. Astonishingly, approximately 19.2% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) emanates from the realm of agriculture. This sector generously feeds the industrial machinery of Pakistan, furnishing it with the raw materials it craves. The primary constituents of Pakistan’s crops encompass essential staples and cash-yielding cultivars. Within the precincts of staple produce lie wheat, rice, gram, corn, millet, sorghum, pulses, and oilseeds, among others. These nourishing grains not only satiate the nation’s hunger but also serve as foundational inputs for various industries. On the other hand, the cadre of cash crops includes cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, and jute, sought after not just by domestic industries but also gracing the international markets. The relentless modernization of Pakistan’s agricultural sphere unfailingly marches on, with a robust irrigation system that spans the country, encompassing modern canal networks, hill torrents, springs, and wells/tube wells for those regions bereft of canals.

I. Challenges and Transformations in Agriculture
a) Challenges
The benevolence of Allah bestows upon Pakistan a myriad of climatic conditions and fertile soil. Pakistan occupies a geographical niche where the full spectrum of seasons gracefully unfolds. This climatic diversity yields a profusion of crops and vegetables. The canvas of Pakistan’s landmass covers a sprawling 47%, of which 20% relies on nature’s showers, while the remaining 80% relies on the artifice of irrigation. Irrigation, a lifeline for crops, involves the deliberate bestowal of water through artificial conduits, eschewing reliance on natural precipitation. However, Pakistan’s burgeoning population, which has steadily swelled since its inception, exerts escalating demands on food resources. Alas, the yield per acre in Pakistan pales in comparison to many global counterparts. The diminishing fertility of soil, the scourge of waterlogging and salinity, archaic farming techniques, substandard seed quality, arid climates, insufficiencies in irrigation infrastructure, crop ailments, and dearth of agricultural education and training are some of the contributory factors impeding bountiful yields.

b) Transformations
To ameliorate the productivity of arable land, a gamut of measures has been set into motion:

II) Adoption of Chemical Fertilizers
In the contemporary agricultural landscape, preference tilts toward cultivating crops that offer substantial yield per acre. However, such crops necessitate copious nourishment, a need that chemical fertilizers alone can gratify. During the 2017-18 period, Pakistan witnessed the production of a staggering 6 million metric tonnes of chemical fertilizers, with an additional 0.1 million metric tonnes imported. Recognizing the pivotal role of chemical fertilizers, the government extends subsidies to farmers, facilitating access to this critical resource. Agricultural banks also partake in this endeavor, furnishing loans at preferential interest rates for fertilizer procurement.

III) Mechanization of Agriculture
Traditional agricultural practices in Pakistan predominantly employ antiquated methods, such as ploughing, sowing, and threshing by means of animal power, along with manual harvesting using sickles. These rudimentary techniques, while steeped in tradition, fall woefully short in efficiently cultivating vast tracts of land and often result in substantial yield losses. This conundrum can be effectively resolved through the adoption of modern machinery. The ubiquitous tractor, in particular, emerges as a versatile workhorse, capable not only of ploughing but also facilitating sowing, harvesting, and threshing when equipped with specialized attachments. The government fervently encourages the adoption of contemporary agricultural machinery by minimizing import tariffs.

IV) Application of Agricultural Remedies
Plants, akin to animals, grapple with afflictions of their own. Estimates indicate that diseases and pests afflict crops, causing a staggering 20% reduction in yield. Farmers in Pakistan have increasingly turned to pesticides and insecticides, despite their deleterious impact on human health. A prudent approach entails the cultivation of crop varieties endowed with inherent resilience against diseases.

iv) Utilization of Enhanced Seed Varieties
Enhanced seed varieties demonstrate heightened resistance to diseases and confer elevated yields. In pursuit of seed enhancement, an institution has been instituted, with laboratories strategically situated across 17 distinct climatic zones throughout the nation. Provincial seed corporations are also fervently engaged in this mission. Furthermore, international entities contribute to the propagation of superior seed strains.

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