Pakistan’s yield per acre of gram has dropped by 50 percent: from 5 maunds per acre to 2.5 maunds per acre, according to Ibrahim Mughal Chairman of the Agri-Forum Pakistan.
This statistic would surprise no one in the wake of a 2011 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2011 report.
That revealed that Pakistan was behind regional as well as global yields per acreage for nearly all crops including wheat, rice, sugarcane and pulses.
The report added that while Pakistan is one of the ten major producers of wheat in the world, around 24 million tons, with 24.5 to 25 million tons of total output projected in the current year.
Yet our per acre yield is only 2.6 tons per hectare while India’s yield is 2.8 tons and China’s 4.7 tons per hectare.
The highest wheat yield is in the UK at 7.7 tons per hectare; however, its cycle is spread over one year against five months in Pakistan. Wheat exports have varied – from 52.7 million rupees in July-April 2012-13 to 112.7 million rupees in 2011-12.
Rice yield in Pakistan was calculated at 3.1 tons per hectare with a total output of around 9 million tons making Pakistan one of the ten largest producers of the crop world-wide.
Rice exports have accounted for as high as 11 percent of our total exports accounting for almost 1.7 billion rupees in 2011-12. In contrast, India’s yield per hectare is 3.3, Bangladesh’s 4.2 and Sri Lanka’s 4.1. China has the highest yield – 6.5 tons per hectare.
Pakistan’s sugarcane yield per hectare is 52.4 tons, in comparison to India’s 66.1 tons which is the regional leader followed by China’s 65.7 tons per hectare and Bangladesh’s 43.8 tons per hectare. Brazil is the world leader at 79.2 tons per hectare.
In coarse grains, Pakistan’s yield is 2.2 tons per hectare, India’s is lower at 1.2 tons per hectare and Italy has the highest yield at 7.6 tons per hectare.
Pakistan’s yield for pulses is 0.6 tons per hectare, India’s per hectare yield is 0.7 tons, Bangladesh’s 0.9 tons per hectare and the highest yield in pulses is in the UK at 3.9 tons per hectare.
Pakistan, however, has the highest per acre yield of 21.6 tons per hectare in roots and tuber production, India’s yield is 20.6 tons per hectare, China’s 17.8, and Bangladesh 17.7.
However, Pakistan is far behind the US registering where per hectare is 42.1 tons.
The FAO report highlighted the reasons for the low yield in Pakistan in comparison to regional countries as well as globally: water shortage, absence of high yield varieties of seeds and lack of research and development.
However, in this context it is relevant to note that FAO’s data takes account of the national average while the yield per hectare of different crops varies from province to province.
Punjab remains the food basket of the country and its yield is on average higher than the national average.
Additionally, within provinces yield varies markedly between subsistence farms and those operated by the rich landlords whose yield per acreage is closer to the regional average.
Be that as it may, it is also relevant to note that the Indian Punjab has a higher yield per hectare in most crops relative to the Pakistani Punjab.
What is perhaps required is for the provincial governments, given that agriculture is a provincial subject, take cognisance of their farm sectors and initiate appropriate measures based on studies in high yield countries on how to increase yield.
Assistance in this regard can be sought from China, the US and the UK as well as Brazil the world leaders in yields in specific crops.