The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is an ancient Southern Asian country, bordering the Arabian Sea to the North, with India on the East, Iran and Afghanistan on the west, and China in the north. Pakistan mainly comprises of four provinces, Balochistan, North West Frontier, the Punjab and Sindh Pakistan.
Despite movements of the population from farms to cities, the country remains predominantly rural. Almost three fourths of the population lives in rural areas. The literacy rate of Pakistan in 2004 was estimated to be 54 percent (of which 66.25 percent is male and 41.75 percent is female), which is still behind other countries of the region.
Pakistan’s economy is characterized by a predominance of agriculture, a strong industrial base with a large domestic market, and an ample supply of skilled human resources. In general, Pakistan enjoys a well developed physical infrastructure and good communication facilities.
The population in Pakistan, since its inception in 1947, has more than quadrupled to 164.74 million, as of July 2007. The production of wheat, a staple food crop, has increased only three fold. The gap between food supply and demand requires great effort to increase agricultural production while ensuring self-sufficiency in food commodities.
1.2 Agricultural Mechanization
Agriculture plays a pivotal role in Pakistan’s economy. About 22% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 44.8% of total employment is generated in agriculture. It also provides a substantial base to Pakistan’s export. Agriculture also contributes to the growth as a supplier of raw materials to the industry, as well as the market for industrial products. Nearly 65.9% of the country’s population living in rural areas is directly or indirectly linked with agriculture for their livelihood. Whatever happens to agriculture, it is bound to affect not only the country’s growth performance but to a large segment of the country’s population as well.
The major crops grown in the country are wheat, rice, maize, cotton, and sugarcane. The area under these crops are 8.35, 2.51, 0.98, 3.2, and 0.97 million hectares, respectively. The annual production of wheat, rice, and maize are 21.61, 5.02, and 2.79 million metric tons, respectively, whereas the annual production of cotton and sugarcane are 14.26 million bales and 47.24 million metric tons, respectively (Anon., 2005-06).
Agricultural mechanization is selective in Pakistan and the only operations that are mechanized are those for which there is a constraint of labor or power, or a combination of both. The effects of mechanization are positive overall: it has not only increased on-farm income and labor productivity but also generated off-farm employment in manufacturing, supply/servicing of agricultural machinery, supply of other inputs and post-harvest handling of increased agricultural production. The most popular forms of agricultural machinery in Pakistan are bulldozers, power rigs, tubewells and tractors with cultivators, wheat threshers, sprayers and trailers. Mould board ploughs and disc ploughs for deep tillage are also gaining popularity.
The bulldozers and power rigs are operated and maintained by the public sector on subsidized rates to farmers whereas tractors and other machines are owned by some farmers themselves. Farmers with medium-sized farms generally share their tractors and other farm machines with their neighboring small farmers on a rental basis. So far, agricultural engineering research has proved to be successful in Pakistan; a number of imported machines were modified by the research institutes and adopted by the farming community. In addition, a few machines/techniques were invented to assist the growers of different crops.
total: 803,940 sq km
land: 778,720 sq km
water: 25,220 sq km
mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north
flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: K2 (Mt. Godwin-Austen) 8,611 m
land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, poor quality coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone
arable land: 24.44%
permanent crops: 0.84%
other: 74.72% (2005)
182,300 sq km (2003)
frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)
Current environmental issues:
water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural fresh water resources; a majority of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification