FAO in Pakistan

Pakistan at a Glance

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is located in South Asia. Covering a total area of 796,095 km2, Pakistan shares 6,774-kilometres of land border with Afghanistan (to the west), China (to the northeast), India (to the east) and Iran (to the south west) and has a 1,046-kilometre coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south. Pakistan is separated narrowly from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor in the northwest, and also shares a maritime border with Oman.
Pakistan is the world’s sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212 million people. Around 64% of the population (136 million) lives in rural areas. The most populous city is Karachi (15 million people), followed by Lahore (11.1 million) and Faisalabad (3.8 million), whereas Islamabad (the Capital city of Pakistan) has a population of around 1.0 million.
Created in 1947, Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of four provinces (Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh) and three federal territories (Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 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, 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.
Pakistan 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. The national language of Pakistan is Urdu while Urdu is also the official language along with English. The country has several regional languages, including Punjabi, Saraiki, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, Brahvi, Hindko, Kashmiri, Shina, Balti amongst other local languages.
Pakistan has a semi-industrialised economy with a well-integrated agriculture sector. The country’s economy was the 23rd largest in the world in 2018 in terms of nominal Gross Domestic Product (purchasing power parity, PPP).
According to the Labour Force Survey of 2017-18 conducted by Pakistan Bureau of Statistic, thirty-nine percent of the country’s labour force is engaged in agriculture (30.2 percent males and 67.2 percent females). In total, the agriculture sector contributes 18.5 percent to the country’s GDP.
Out of the total area of 79.6 million hectares, 22.1 million hectares are cultivated; the rest of the territory is comprised of culturable waste, densely populated forests and rangelands. Cropped area constitutes 23.3 million hectares, while forests cover 4.6 million hectares of the total land. The country has the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system with almost 80 percent of the cultivated area irrigated.
Pakistan is also amongst the world’s top ten producers of wheat, cotton, sugarcane, mango, dates and kinnow oranges, and is ranked 10th in rice production. Major crops (wheat, rice, cotton and sugar cane) contribute around 4.9 per cent, while minor crops contribute 2.1 percent to the country’s total GDP.
Livestock sector contributes 11 per cent to the country’s GDP (60.5 per cent in agriculture sector) and employs approximately 35 million people. Fisheries and forestry sectors each contribute an estimated 0.4 per cent to the GDP (2.1 per cent in agriculture sector).
Despite its impressive and continuously growing agricultural production, the country is still facing high levels of food insecurity. According to a global report published jointly by FAO, WFP, UNICEF, WHO and IFAD in 2019, 20.3 per cent of Pakistan’s population (40.0 million people) is undernourished/food insecure.  The prevalence of malnutrition amongst children aged 6-59 months is also very high, with an estimated 40% children stunted, 28% underweight, 18% wasted and 10% overweight. Further, around one-fourth (24 per cent) of the country’s population is living below national poverty line and 39.0 per cent is poor based on multidimensional poverty index (MPI).
Large amounts of agricultural production and the continuously increasing population places 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 – are used for agriculture, while the remaining share is split equally between industry and for domestic use.
The country faces numerous natural and manmade disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, droughts, and conflicts, such as the flood of 2010 which affected 20 million people, drought of 2013-15 and 2018 and the earthquake of 2005.