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Pakistan has a total land area of 80 million ha. Of this, 22 million ha are used for crop production. About 18 million ha (80 percent) of the cultivated land is irrigated while the remainder is under dry farming. The range land, which covers over 50 percent of the total area of Pakistan, is a potential source of livestock development in the country. The total population is about 150 million. During the period from 1970/71 to 2002/03, the cultivated area increased from 16.62 million ha to 22.15 million ha, with an annual growth rate of 0.9 percent. During the same period, the population increased from 65 million to 150 million, registering a growth of 2.8 percent per annum. In consequence the per capita land availability decreased from 0.25 ha in 1970/71 to 0.15 ha in 2002/03. With a projected annual growth of 1.9 percent, the population will be around 190 million by the year 2015.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy. It accounts for 24 percent of the GDP and employs 48.4 percent of the total labour force. Agriculture contributes to growth as a supplier of raw materials to industry as well as a market for industrial products and also contributes 60 percent to Pakistan’s export earnings. About 67 percent of the country’s population live in rural areas and are directly linked with agriculture for their livelihood. The agricultural sector grew at an average rate of 4.5 percent per annum during the decade of the 1990s. Agricultural production fell in 2000/01 and 2001/02 due to serious droughts, but grew by 4.2 percent in 2002/03. The crop sector accounts for about 60 percent of agriculture’s contribution to the GDP, the livestock, fishery and forestry sectors for 40 percent.

There are two principal crop seasons in Pakistan namely “Kharif”, with sowing beginning in April and harvest between October and December and “Rabi” beginning in October-December and ending in April-May. Rice, sugar cane, cotton, maize and millet are Kharif crops, while wheat, gram, tobacco, rapeseed, barley and mustard are Rabi crops.

The average per capita income was US$492 in 2002/03. About 32 percent of the population live below the poverty level, based on a caloric norm of 2 350 calories per adult per day. This norm represented a per capita expenditure of Rs.741 per month in 2000/01. According to this definition about 38.7 percent of the poor live in rural areas. This poverty level persists not because of inadequate food availability, but because poor people cannot afford to buy food.

The total food crop production in Pakistan increased from 10 million tonnes in 1970/71 to about 25 million tonnes in 2002/03. This was achieved due to technological developments in varieties, water availability, and fertilizer use.

Nitrogenous fertilizers were introduced in Pakistan in 1952, phosphorus seven years later in 1959/60, and potassium another seven years later in 1966/67. Fertilizer use gained momentum after 1966/67, when high yielding varieties of cereal crops were introduced.

Most fertilizers are used on irrigated crops. In rainfed areas use is still very low.

The objective of this paper is to review fertilizer use by crop in the crop production regions of Pakistan, fertilizer supply and the economic profitability of fertilizer use.

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