Cereal crops including wheat, rice and maize are the staple food items for the fair majority of population of Pakistan. The food security heavily relies on the sustainable supply of food cereals. The people in the country also consume other food stuff to meet their dietary requirements but food cereals serve the basis of their dietary requirement.
The wheat is the leading food cereal of the country regarding area under cultivation and production followed by rice and maize. It is also consumed as a basic food in many different countries including India, Australia, Bangladesh, Argentina, Canada, France etc. It grows in different barani and irrigated regions of the world. With the continue increase in the population, there is a need to boost up wheat production, so that we can fulfill the food demand. Wheat contributes 13.1 % to the value added in agriculture and 2.8 %.
Rice is also the main cash crop and holds a specific position in the agro-based economy of the Pakistan. It plays an imperative role in booting the country’s economy in the following methods. Firstly, it supplies more than 2 million tones to country’s food necessity. Secondly, the rice industry is a chief source of job creation and income generation for the rural people that brings financial prosperity for the rural people. Thirdly, it is the major source of foreign earnings. The rice importance in the economy of Pakistan may also be examined by the facts that it has 5.9 percent share in the value added agriculture and 1.3 percent in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Pakistan cultivates enough good quality of the rice to fulfill the demand of both national and international markets.
There are two prominent rice varieties in Pakistan. Basmati rice has a long grain with aromatic characteristics and IRRI with high yielding varieties. The basmati rice is the world known variety of rice and holds a monopoly position in the foreign markets due to its quality traits mainly its strong aroma and the high degree of elongation on its cooking. All varieties of rice are irrigated and cultivated through the transplanting nursery seedlings. There are two chief rice growing provinces in Pakistan namely Punjab and Sindh.
Food cereals are mainly produced in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Keeping in view the food security issue of the nation, the government also has serious concerns in the production of above mentioned crops.
The total area of major cereal crops under cultivation was 11237 (000, hectares) in 2012 where as the production was almost 29677 (000, tones) during the same year. Among food cereals, the share of wheat and rice in agriculture is 12.5 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. On the other hand, wheat and rice contributions are 2.6 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively in GDP. The difference between the potential yield for a specific crop and actual yield of farmer at a given technology, production environment, quality of inputs and resources is known as yield gap.
Pakistan is a developing country and over time agriculture has proved its central importance in uplifting and supporting the economy of the country but still its real potential needs to be realized. After independence, various governments took measures to improve agriculture sector, particularly in area enhancement and marketing mechanism of major crops, however, productivity enhancement remained a neglected area as little attention was paid for the improvement in productivity of major cereal crops. The past five years and other development plan shows the real position as little amount was allocated to this sector. Furthermore, exploitation of small farmers and improper post-harvest handling of agriculture produce in Pakistan results in quantitative and qualitative losses causing low productivity of major food crops in the country.
Various studies on the inefficiencies (technical, allocation and economic) of agricultural production, mainly for the wheat and rice have highlighted the presence of a yield gap. This gap explains the variation in the productivity on good agricultural best practices and on other agricultural farms working with equivalent resource endowments under the same conditions. The variation between the actual and the technically possible production for most of the crops implied huge potential for accelerating agriculture production and food through the improvements in the productivity even without the further development or improvement in technology and the allocation of other resources viz. land, water and labor.
In Pakistan, the productivity or yield can be enhanced either by improving the agricultural technology or modifications in the efficiency or both. The velocity of development and the acceptance of modified agricultural technology are dawdling in the country. So, improvement in the efficiency is the most appropriate decision to enhance the agricultural productivity in the country in the short duration. The recent food crisis (wheat and rice) and occasional surpluses and shortages of agricultural commodities underline the need for taking measures by the government to improve the working of agricultural production system. Poor quality of land, high rate of interest on farm loans, improper mode of irrigation, weeds and disease attack, high input prices, limited capital, low level of education of farming community and lack of extension services are some of the prominent challenges which need to be tackled by the government and to be assigned top priority in the national plans. Significant improvements in the agricultural production system have been made but past food crises point out that existing agricultural production system in Pakistan needs to be rehabilitated and developed to meet emerging challenges of food security in the years to follow.
The main reasons of low productivity in wheat and rice are the non accessibility of the certified seed, ridiculous usage of fertilizers, weed infestation, inappropriate time of sowing, shortages and untimely employment of the irrigation water, famine prone varieties and inherited unsteadiness of new cultivars, need of the proper price incentives, insufficient acceptance of the technology to obtain genetic potentials and nonstop use of the wheat-cotton rotation. The objective of the government for the wheat self- in-dependency is the self-reliance, improvement in productivity and the food security. Self-sufficiency is the important in altering the world level scenarios. The main thrust is to enhance wheat and rice production to decrease the imports and make sure the food security in order to provide the requirements of the increasing population day by day.