Country Focus Data: Pakistan
July 01, 1996
by Mindy Dake
The capital of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, located in southern Asia, is Islamabad.
Demography: Population 131.5 million (July 1995), 33% urban; Urdu and English languages; Muslim religion (97%).
Geography: Mostly hot, dry desert in southeast, arctic climate in Himalayas to north, temperate elsewhere.
Government: Republic. Chief of state is President Sardar Farooq Leghari, head of government is Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Economy: The government is making a concerted effort to reduce its involvement in the economy, based on pressure to reduce government costs and on a belief in the free-market system. Expensive agricultural support and food security programs gradually are being adjusted to allow the private sector to handle pricing and distribution. But it will take some time before existing subsidies and price controls are eliminated.
Agriculture accounts for about 24% of gross domestic product and employs 40% of the labor force.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$1,930 (1994 estimate).
Currency: Pakistani rupee. July 4, 1996 exchange rate: 34.71 rupees per U.S. dollar.
Exports: 1993 total, U.S.$6.7 billion, primarily textiles, cotton and rice.
Imports: 1993 total, U.S.$9.5 billion, primarily petroleum and agricultural products.
Major agricultural crops/products: Wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane.
Wheat: Wheat is by far the major food grain in Pakistan. Per capita consumption of wheat during 1995-96 was estimated at 124 kilograms; in contrast, rice consumption was only 18 kg. Wheat consumption for food purposes is growing by at least 3% annually, matching the population growth rate.
Pakistani wheat production in the past seven years has averaged 15.8 million tonnes a year, with consumption averaging 17.8 million. Imports make up the difference.
Rice. Pakistan produces about 3.5 million tonnes of rice a year, domestic use averages about 2.3 million tonnes, and the balance is exported. The Rice Export Corporation of Pakistan is a state owned entity responsible for procurement and export.
Coarse grains and feed: Pakistan produces only about 1.8 million tonnes of coarse grains annually, and imports are minimal. Because of the relative scarcity of coarse grains, wheat and wheat bran are used for feed. Conservative estimates of total wheat feed use in 1995-96 were 400,000 tonnes.
In areas where fodder is inadequate during the winter season, wheat fields are planted to old wheat varieties, instead of the high yielding semi-dwarf varieties, for livestock grazing.
Oilseeds: Pakistan relies heavily on imports of edible oils, as domestic production only covers 20% to 25% of use. New initiatives are under way, in collaboration with Malaysia and Sri Lanka, to develop Pakistan's edible oil industry. These initiatives include the possibilities of palm oil and coconut oil production in Pakistan. Steps also are being taken to introduce canola cultivation.
A Pakistani-Malaysian joint venture is planned to build a new refinery for edible oils in the Karachi port area. Despite these efforts, observers expect it will take several years before Pakistan sees a measurable increase in domestic production of edible oils.
Transportation: 8,773 km of mostly 1.676-meter gauge rails; 177,410 km of highways, 53% of which are paved; ports are Gwadar, Karachi and Port Muhammad bin Qasim, the major grain importing location.