Pakistan’s climate varies from tropical to temperate, with arid conditions in the coastal south. The country has coastal, desert, plain and mountainous regions. There is a monsoon season with heavy rainfall. Temperatures are quite high during the summer.
Agriculture sector is of great importance even though yields have been steadily declining. Livestock sector’s contribution to the GDP is 11 percent, which is higher than that of crops. Pakistan is the fourth largest milk producing country in the world. Fisheries and fishery industry are also important for the national economy. Food processing industries utilize most of the agricultural output. Majority of the farmers are subsistence, but large farms also exist. The main crops are wheat, rice, maize, sugarcane and cotton; cotton and rice are main exports. Key fruits include citrus (kinnu), mango, apricot, apple and dates.
Pakistan has an impressive irrigation system comprising rivers, canals and groundwater. Its infrastructure, however, lacks proper maintenance. Land degradation due to salinity and water logging is a persistent problem. Rain-fed agriculture needs proper technology. Land tenure issues remain complex. The private sector has active business of seed, pesticides and fertilizers.
Although agricultural extension in Pakistan has been public from the start, yet it has never been a federal government’s responsibility. Until the start of devolution process in 2001, the main agricultural extension department, headed by a Director-General, was located at provincial level in all five provinces. Although the provincial extension offices have not been disbanded, the extension responsibilities have been shifted to district level administration. Now each district has an extension directorate, which is a part of provincial department of agriculture. Local Government is now actively involved in agricultural activities including extension.
According to a recent survey conducted by FAO, Pakistan’s investment in agricultural extension during the year 2009 was US$ 86,923,170, and the extension agent to active rural population ratio was 1: 6,881. Agricultural extension services in Pakistan, which were already criticized for their less than satisfactory performance, have suffered under devolution. The devolution-related problems for agricultural extension in Pakistan include confusion about new role of extension, abundance of bureaucratic paperwork, burden of non-extension tasks, isolation from provincial extension office, and enhanced political interference. In addition, several administrative levels simply create more red tape delaying decision making. The role of provincial vis-à-vis district extension offices needs to be re-defined as the provincial offices feel disconnected from the field.
Extension services in Pakistan remain traditional, using old extension methods and top-down and technology-driven approaches. Linkages with research and agricultural academic institutions are minimal at best. There is hardly any female field extension staff. The organization suffers from a lack of in-service training, mobility means, scant career development opportunities, and grossly inadequate operational funds. Gender-sensitivity is non-existent in terms of extension access by rural women.
In spite of a plethora of research stations, contacts between research and extension remain scant. The private sector has been very active for years in the sale of various farm inputs like seed, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, farm machinery, etc. However, sometimes, the prices are too high for small farmers. Pakistan has both rain-fed and irrigated areas. Improved technology for rain-fed areas is not adequate. It is not easy for small farmers to get credit in some parts of the country due to collateral requirements. Although the majority of farmers are subsistence, with small holdings, there is sizeable number of commercial farmers who run their large farms like business.
Huge floods of 2010 and 2011 devastated the rural life by killing people and livestock, and by destroying villages and standing crops on thousands of acres, and rehabilitation has not yet been done fully in several areas. In recent years, there have been persistent security concerns in the northern part of the country and it is not safe to do extension fieldwork with relaxed mind in certain areas. Frequent power shutdowns and sometimes disruptions in the transport system present problems in working at offices and in undertaking inter-province travel.
Several UN agencies, especially FAO, have been very active in Pakistan with several projects in agricultural and rural development. Presently, FAO is executing a European funded Food Facility Project. IFAD has recently had major project on community development and rural poverty. Bilateral donors such as SIDA, DANIDA, SDC, etc. are also active. The main areas of projects are food security, livestock, dairy, and rural poverty.
From agricultural extension point of view, however, the World Bank, FAO and USAID participated in a Round Table on Agriculture and Water held in Islamabad in March 2011. The purpose of the event was to discuss the implementation of the latest national development plan. The meeting was organized by Pakistan’s Planning Commission in collaboration with the World Bank and the Embassy of The Netherland. One of the products of donors’ participation was a discussion paper on transforming agricultural research and extension in Pakistan, jointly prepared by the World Bank and FAO.
MAJOR INSTITUTIONS PROVIDING EXTENSION/ADVISORY SERVICES
Provincial Directorates General of Extension
In spite of devolution, the Directorate-General of Agriculture and Applied Research still exists. This office carries out various duties including advice on agriculture sector to the provincial government, implementation of provincial projects and maintenance of links with the district governments for agricultural extension matters. The responsibility for livestock extension lies with the Veterinary Officers and Veterinary Assistants of the provincial Livestock and Dairy Department. A Directorate-General for On-Farm Irrigation exists at provincial level. But like the Directorate-General of Extension, it also provides policy advice to the provincial government.
Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) http://www.parc.gov.pk
Although PARC is essentially apex agricultural research body, it has a social sciences wing, which is engaged in policy level activities in marketing and extension. Statutory functions of PARC are to aid, promote and coordinate agricultural research, expedite utilization of research results, establish research facilities, train high-level scientific human resources, generate, acquire and disseminate agricultural information, and establish a research library. The PARC sets national agricultural research agenda, maintains national and international coordination and conducts in-house strategic research on national issues. Pakistan’s national agricultural research system (NARS) consists of 20 federal research establishments for basic and applied research, 10 provincial research institutes for applied research, 14 agricultural universities and colleges for basic research, and private agro-industry research organizations for applied research on pesticides, fertilizers, seed and machinery, and it is PARC which provides strategic thinking and orientation to the entire NARS.
Table 1: Number of Key Agricultural Extension Staff in Provinces of Pakistan as in 2011
Number of Agriculture Officers
Number of Field Assistants
Gilgit and Baltistan
Source: PowerPoint presentation made by the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (March, 2011) in the Roundtable Discussion on Agriculture and Water, organized by the Planning Commission, USAID, The Embassy of Netherland and the World Bank
Table 2: Number of Key Livestock Extension Staff in Various Provinces of Pakistan as in 2008
Number of Veterinary Officers
Number of Veterinary Assistants
Gilgit and Baltistan
Source: Afzal, M. (2008). Overview of Agricultural Research and Extension in Pakistan. Pakistan Agricultural Research Council
- University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (in Punjab province), http://www.uaf.edu.pk
- Arid Agriculture University (also known as Barani University), Rawalpindi (Punjab province), http://www.uaar.edu.pk/
- Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam (Sindh province), http://www.sau.edu.pk/
- Agricultural University, Peshawar (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province), http://www.aup.edu.pk/
- Syngenta (sells both pesticides and seed), http://www.sygenta.com/global
- Fauji Fertilizer Company, http://www.ffc.com.pk
- Lakson Tobacco Company, http://www.lakson.com.pk
- Pioneer Pakistan, http://www.pioneer.com/pakistan/
- METRO, http://www.metro.pk
- Nestle, http://www.nestle.pk
- Seed Association of Pakistan, http://www.sap.com
Subjects of extension advice include plant protection, plant nutrition, introduction of new and improved varieties, entire crop production cycle (sugarcane covered by sugar mills; tobacco covered by national and multi-national tobacco companies; maize by seed and corn-processing companies; oil seed by edible oil processing companies and Oil Seed Development Board; and milk by national and multi-national companies), and credit (covered by micro-finance institutions and commercial banks).
The companies maintain well-equipped, well-educated, experienced and mobile staff in the field, and are apparently popular among farmers. Their extension methods include demonstrations, field days, and visits to individual farmers, farmers’ group meetings, training of farmers, tours to model farms, phone calls, and published materials. The staff usually works through progressive farmers who are in most cases large landholders.
http://www.urdusky.com. A few examples of NGOs in Pakistan are as follows:
- National Rural Support Program (NRSP), Islamabad http://www.nrsp.org.pk ; national NGO; Telephone: (92) 51-282 2319
- Rural Development Foundation, Islamabad http://www.rdf.org.pk ; national NGO; Telephone: (92) 51-225 1492
- CABI South Asia, Rawalpindi, http://www.cabi.org ; international NGO; Telephone in Pakistan: (92) 51-9290332
- Kashf Foundation, Lahore; http://www.kashf.org ; national NGO; Telephone: (92) 42-111 981 981
- Plan Pakistan, Islamabad; http://www.plan-international.org ; international NGO; Telephone in Pakistan: (92) 51-260 9435 41
- Pakistan Agriculture & Dairy Farmers Association, http://www.padfapak.org
- Farmers Associates Pakistan, http://www.farmersassociates.com
- Livestock Farmers & Breeders Association, http://www.lfbapunjab.com
- Dairy Association of Pakistan, http://www.dairyforums.com
- Farmers Association of Pakistan
- Mango Growers Association Pakistan
- Poultry Farming Association
For the purpose of in-service training, the following institutes are used by agricultural staff:
- In-service Agricultural Training Institute, Sargodha (Tel: 451-714 177)
- Barani Agricultural Training Institute, Dahgal, Rawalpindi (Tel: 51-557 2116)
- In-service Agricultural Training Institute, Rahim Yar Khan (Tel: 731-9230137)
- Pak-German Institute of Co-operative Agriculture, Multan (Tel: 61-377 339)
- Extension Services Management Academy (ESMA), Garhi Dopatta, Azad Jammu & Kashmir (Tel: 588-103 2596); http://www.esma.org.pk
According to the World Bank, in 2010, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Pakistan was 57.13. The number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country during the same year was 16.78.
The Punjab province has a Directorate of Agriculture Information, which has established a “help line” for farmers. However, its use has been very limited as most farmers are unaware of this facility. The country has been having radio and television programs for farmers for several decades. An NGO, Pakistan Social Association (PSA), has started a project under the title of E-Village with the objective of reaching rural population through the Internet. Details of the project may be seen at http://www.ngoworldpk.com/e-village/ .
Beintema, N. M. Waqar Malik, Muhammad Sharif, Gewrt-Jan Stads and Usman Mustafa. (December 2007). Agricultural Research and Development in Pakistan: Policy, Investments and Institutional Profile; ASTI Country Report. International Food Policy Research Institute and Pakistan Agricultural Research Council
FAO (2010). Pakistan country sheet on global survey of agricultural research and extension. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Government of Pakistan (December 31, 2009). Final Report of the Working Group on Agriculture and Food Security for the 10th Five Year People’s Plan 2010-2015. Food and Agriculture Section, Planning Commission, Islamabad, http://www.pc.gov.pk/
Iqbal, M.Z., Tanvir Ali, Munir Ahmad and Saif-ur-Rahman Saif Abbasi. (2007). Evaluation of in-service agricultural training institutes in Punjab, Pakistan. Pak. J. Agric. Sci. Vol. 44 (3), 2007; Pp 518-524
Luqman, M., Kafeel Ahmed, Muhammad Yasin Ashraf and Zafar Iqbal Khan. 2007. Effectiveness of decentralized agricultural extension system (a case study of Pakistan). African Crop Science Conference Proceedings; Vol. 8; Pp 1465-1472
Qamar, M. K. (2011). Introducing Demand-Driven Extension Approach in a Traditional Region: A Case Study from Pakistan. FAO Rome;
Qamar, M. K. (2011). Transforming Agricultural Research and Extension in Pakistan in Response to Global Changes (Discussion Paper prepared for FAO and the World Bank; in the process of being published)
Qamar, M. K. (2012). Transforming agricultural research and extension (in Pakistan), in FAO/World Bank (2012): "Pakistan - Priority Areas for Investment in the Agricultural Sector". COUNTRY HIGHLIGHTS, prepared under the FAO/World Bank, Cooperative Programme. www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/rust/docs/Pakistan_inside%20pages.pdf
Siraj, M. (2012). A Model for ICT-based Services for Agriculture Extension in Pakistan. CABI International; http://www.cabi.org
USAID (November 2008). Pakistan’s Food and Agriculture Systems
Edited by Burt E. Swanson
"The Division of Education and Extension consists of the departments of Agricultural Extension, Agricultural Education, Continuing Education and Rural Home Economics besides an Agriculture Information Centre (AIC).
The Division offers various under & post-graduate degree programmes i.e. B.Sc. (Hons.) Home Economics and postgraduate degrees of Ph.D. & M.Sc. (Hons.) in the discipline of Agri. Extension, M.Sc. Home Economics (Food and Nutrition) and M.A. Fine Arts.
The Division organizes in-service training courses for personnel from the Agriculture Department, Education Department, Army (both at commissioned and non-commissioned levels), Banks, NGOs and other agencies responsible for agricultural and rural development. The Division also coordinates/manages short term courses offered by different Departments of the University and in NAVTEC-Project. The Division also publishes a quarterly magazine (Zarri Digest) and special issues on various agricultural aspects for the guidance and education of the farmers and general public" http://www.uaf.edu.pk/directorates/div_education/edu_overview.html
Ministry of Food and Agriculture, MINFAL www.minfal.gov.pk
"The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is mainly responsible for policy formulation, economic coordination and planning in respect of food grain and agriculture. It also includes procurement of food grains, fertilizer, import price stabilization of agriculture produce, international liaison, economic studies for framing agricultural policies." (retrieved 5/17/2011) (no mention of advisory or extension service provision)
MINFAL carries out most of the agricultural extension through its provincial departments.http://www.rspn.org/
funded service for almost 40 years, during the
period since its independence in 1947 till 1988.
During this period successive governments experimented with several different models and styles of extension with the view to increase its efficiency but limited success was achieved. In 1988, a new experiment was tried, this time, to allow the private sector and especially the input supply companies to initiate their own advisory services along with their products delivery system. The idea was to gain impetus for commercialization of agriculture and attain food security. Today, after 20 years of this decision, there are several such companies successfully providing advisory services to the farming community and the experiment can be termed as very positive."
Introduction to "The role of the private sector in agricultural extension in Pakistan", by Muhammad Riaz, 2010