Geospatial information for sustainable food systems

Agro-ecological zones of Punjab - Pakistan

Year published: 19/12/2019

Agriculture contributes approximately one-quarter of provincial gross domestic product (GDP) in the Punjab Province. The provincial share is two-third of the total national agricultural output, leading in major commodities meant for food security in the country. The sector employs roughly 13 million people or 45 percent of the Punjab labor force. However, the overall added value from agriculture in Punjab’s economy is disproportionately low compared to other sectors of the economy.

The agricultural sector offers significant opportunities for rapid economic growth and potentially help millions to improve their livelihood. Production and productivity have remained nearly stagnant during the last two decades. While the socio-economic needs of a rapidly growing population have put enormous pressure on natural resources. Developing more efficient and sustainable agricultural systems to feed the future is a key challenge.

The main objective of launching agro-ecological zones (AEZ) in Punjab has been to formulate policies and strategies for sustainable and diversified use of natural resources and investments to harness production potential. The AEZs will enhance agricultural efficiency through better planning for climate-smart agriculture. The government and associated stakeholders will be able to adapt to the unique zonal requirements and amend cropping systems according to water availability, soil and climatic conditions and market demands.

"The data compiled in the AEZ report reveals an enormous potential for crop diversification and precision for enhanced crop productivity. That includes land characteristics, topography, land use, soil and water analyses, weather and climate, yield, and profitability which can lead to making recommendations towards “what” should be grown “where” and “when”. Crop suitability maps have been developed for more than 50 commodities. This meticulous rehash of agro-ecological zones could make smallholders farming a profitable business and promote overall efficient agricultural enterprising." Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Chairman of the Agro-ecological zones Committee in Punjab, says.

"The AEZ exercise presented in this document is an organic entity that can continue to evolve and become more precise with added data sets. Towards that end, we have already entered into a national program NCBC (National center for big data and cloud computing) as a precision agriculture and analytics lab (PAAL). Simultaneously, FAO has launched a range of site-specific studies to develop applications and products that could be easily adaptable by the smallholders and entrepreneurs for rural job creation. This piece of work shall also serve as a template to extend AEZ exercises to other parts of the country. With FAO being its underwriter, the global flavor has been added to an indigenous exercise. Together, I am confident that we have made a good case for reshaping the agricultural planning and investment in the country."