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Economy, agriculture and food security
The total population economically active in agriculture was an estimated 24.0 million, which was 40 percent of the economically active population. About 29 percent of the population economically active in agriculture are women. In 2009, GDP was US$161 990 million of which agriculture accounted for 22 percent.
The roles of men and women are sharply defined, but women are actively involved in farming. Women are largely responsible for livestock production and maintenance, picking cotton, transplanting rice, harvesting and threshing other crops.
In 2007, the overall unemployment rate was 5.2 percent of the total labour force, out of which 4.7 percent of rural labour and 6.3 percent of urban labour is unemployed. There is an increase in the number of severely food-insecure people, from 23 percent in 2005-2006 to 28 percent in 2008. Food security in 2007-2008 had significantly worsened as a result of food price hikes. The total number of households falling into this category in 2008 was around 7 million; equal to about 45 million people. In relative terms, the increase is more pronounced in rural areas, where food expenditure rose by 10 percent and total expenditure by 4 percent (GoP, 2008b).
Food exports account for 13.2 percent of total exports, or US$2 050 million, contributing 26.1 percent to overall export growth. Rice accounting for 60 percent, has registered an impressive growth of 28.5 percent. Pakistan clearly benefited from the unprecedented rise in the international price of rice. Since Pakistan is a net exporter of rice, it is likely to benefit from the elevated international price of rice in coming years. This will encourage farmers in Pakistan to grow more rice and benefit from the higher prices on the international market. Other important foods registered impressive growth, such as fruits, oilseeds, nuts and kernels, meat and fish. More than a 67 percent increase in imports is attributed to wheat, followed by 47 percent for edible oil (GoP, 2008a; GoP, 2008b).