Policy Support and Governance Gateway

Case study

Pakistan. Review of the Wheat Sector and Grain Storage Issues. FAO Investment Centre. Country Highlights

Wheat is of paramount importance in Pakistan, with 80 percent of farmers growing it on a total of about 9 million hectares (ha) - close to 40 percent of the country’s total cultivated land. The crop is grown by predominantly small (0.5 to 5.0 ha) and medium-sized (5 to 10 ha) farmers, whose livelihoods depend on it. Wheat yields in Pakistan remain low, lagging behind those in other countries with comparable agroclimatic conditions. The agro-ecological potential for irrigated wheat in Punjab, Pakistan’s primary production area, suggests that yields of about 6 tonnes/ha could be attained, compared with current yields of 2.5 to 3 tonnes/ha.

Assuming that this potential wheat yield is realized through sustainably intensified crop production, Pakistan could increase annual wheat production to 32.5 to 38 million tonnes from the area currently planted. However, any policies and support programmes aimed at increasing wheat productivity must take into account existing constraints in the wheat supply chain, especially the lack of storage facilities.

Although sector policy analysis was not the main focus of this study, it is clear that existing government intervention programmes pose significant constraints to private sector-driven development, including to the much-needed investment in grain storage infrastructure. Continuing the current costly support policies aimed at supporting farmers, stabilizing consumer prices and subsidizing all consumer groups (regardless of income) will pose a significant public expenditure burden, which may not be sustainable in the long term.

Asia & Pacific