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Economy, Agriculture

new status symbol, cotton lint, textile yarn, loan policies, tenant farmers

About 28 percent of Pakistanís total land area is cultivated. Agriculture and related activities, including fishing, engage 47 percent of the workforce and provide 26 percent of the GDP. Chief cash crops are cotton (textile yarn and fabrics produce more than one-half of export earnings) and rice. Principal crops in 2001 (with output in metric tons) included sugarcane, 43.6 million; wheat, 19 million; rice, 6.8 million; cotton lint, 5.5 million; and corn, 1.6 million. Livestock included cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, and poultry.

Land reform is a controversial issue in Pakistan. At independence in 1947, a large proportion of the arable land was concentrated in a small number of large estates, many of them owned by absentee landlords and cultivated by tenant farmers. Land reforms introduced in 1959 provided some security of tenure to tenants but did little to break up the large estates. In the 1970s the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto introduced more extensive land reforms. The amount of land any individual could own was significantly reduced, and landlords were not compensated for the land they surrendered. Most of the expropriated land was distributed to tenants, but the government retained land that was not suitable for farming. Landlords strongly resisted the reforms, however, and the government bureaucracy was somewhat lax in enforcing them. In the end, the reforms shook the landlords but did not break their hold. By the end of the 20th century, about half of the countryís arable land was held by only a small percentage of wealthy landowners.

The Bhutto government also developed favorable credit and loan policies for farmers. The tractor became the new status symbol in rural Pakistan. Improved mechanization gave a boost to agricultural productivity. Formerly an importer of wheat, Pakistan achieved self-sufficiency in the grain by the late 1970s.

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