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FAO in Pakistan

Pakistan at a glance

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign country in South Asia, covering an area of 796,095 km2. Pakistan shares a total of 6,774 km of land borders with Afghanistan, China, India and Iran, and has a 1,046-kilometre coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south.

With a population exceeding 180 million people, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. Most of the population (113 million) lives in rural areas. The most populous city is Karachi (11 million people), followed by Lahore (6.7 million) and Faisalabad (2.6 million). With a population of 1.1 million, Islamabad ranks as the ninth largest city in the country.

About 97 percent of Pakistanis are Muslim. Official languages are Urdu and English.

Created in 1947, Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of four provinces (Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh) and four federal territories (Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Islamabad Capital Territory and Gilgit Baltistan). The country is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Next Eleven Economies, SAARC, ECO, UfC, D8, Cairns Group, Kyoto Protocol, ICCPR, RCD, UNCHR, Group of Eleven, CPFTA, Group of 24, the G20 developing nations, ECOSOC, founding member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) and CERN.

It is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country, with a similar variation in its geography and wildlife. Climate varies from northern arid high desert at 5 000 meter altitude, to southern coastal sub-tropical.

Pakistan has a semi-industrialised economy with a well-integrated sector of agriculture. Pakistan’s economy is the 26th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and 45th largest in terms of nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the Federal Bureau of Statistic 2010–2011, forty-five percent of the country’s labour force are involved in agriculture (36.2 percent male and 75.4 percent female). The sector contributes 20.9 percent to the country’s GDP.

Out of the total area of 79.6 million hectares, 21.2 million hectares are cultivated; the rest of the territory is rangelands. Cropped area constitutes 23.8 million hectares, forests – 4.21 million hectares. Almost 80 percent of the cultivated area is irrigated. The country has the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system.

The country is among the world’s top ten producers of wheat, cotton, sugarcane, mango, dates and kinnow oranges, and holds 13th position in rice production. Major crops (wheat, rice, cotton and sugar cane) contribute 6.5 percent, while minor crops – 2.3 percent of the country’s GDP.

Another 11 per cent of the country’s GDP is contributed by the livestock sector which employs approximately 35 million people. Fisheries and forestry contribute 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent of the GDP respectively.

Despite its impressive and continuously growing amounts of agricultural production, the country is struggling with significant levels of food insecurity. According to World Food Programme (2009), more than 48 percent of the population is food insecure. FATA has the highest percentage of food insecure population (67.7 percent) followed by Balochistan (61.2 percent) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (56.2 percent).

Large amounts of agricultural production and the continuously increasing population place high demands on Pakistan’s water resources. At present, the annual per capita availability of water in Pakistan is estimated at about 1,100 cubic meters; below 1,000 cubic meters, countries begin experiencing chronic water stress (Population Action International, 1993). Vast majority of the country’s water resources – some 90 percent – is used for agriculture, while the remaining share is split equally between the industry and the domestic use.

The country faces numerous natural and manmade disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, draughts, and conflicts, such as the flood of 2010 which affected 20 million Pakistanis.