That Africa has become a net importer of food and of agricultural products, despite its vast agricultural potential, is puzzling. Using data mainly for the period 1960-2007, this report seeks to explain Africa’s food-trade deficit since the mid-1970s. The core finding is that population growth, low and stagnating agricultural productivity, policy distortions, weak institutions and poor infrastructure are the main reasons.
Pakistan has great potential in agriculture. About 27 percent of the total 79.6 million hectares of the country is under cultivation. Agriculture contributes about 24 percent of the GDP and employs 47 percent of the labour force. Most subsectors of agriculture have either remained static or have declined during the last three decades, with the exception of livestock. Therefore, there is considerable scope for improvement in production and in the processing of primary output. The World Bank, working in partnership with local and international collaborators, including the Investment Centre of FAO, has identified key areas that require priority interventions if the agricultural sector is to address the challenges of rural poverty, and maximize its contribution to export growth and national development. These areas are:
• Agricultural research and extension
• The seed sector
• Water resources
• Rural finance
This document outlines in detail the rationale for an intervention as well as the possible investment areas to support the Government of Pakistan in each subsector. Potential interventions that the Bank could champion are summarized below for each of these areas. The Bank appreciates that it is important that it work closely with all relevant stakeholders, and in particular, the National Agriculture Forum, in addressing the bottlenecks that are impairing the growth prospects of Pakistan’s agricultural sector.
Note from the United Nations System High Level Task Force on Global Food Security
Large-scale international investments in developing country agriculture, especially acquisitions of agricultural land, continue to raise international concern. Certainly, complex and controversial issues – economic, political, institutional, legal and ethical – are raised in relation to food security, poverty reduction, rural development, technology and access to land and water resources. Yet at the same time, some developing countries are making strenuous efforts to attract foreign investment into their agricultural sectors. They see an important role for such investments in filling the gap left by dwindling official development assistance and the limitations of their own domestic budgetary resources, creating employment and incomes and promoting technology transfer. More investment is certainly needed – more than US$80 billion per year according to FAO analysis. But can foreign direct investment be compatible with the needs of local stakeholders as well as those of the international investor? And can these investments yield more general development benefits?