A recent report, jointly prepared by experts from Victoria University in Australia and leading government officials in Pakistan, take such a strategic view. It identifies smallholder agriculture as a pivotal sector for Pakistan, arguing the comprehensive initiatives to assist smallholders could have major flow-on economic and social impacts. The starting point is that while the global economy experienced a major economic transformation between 1990 and 2015, Pakistan’s economy remained basically isolated from this transformation. Pakistan’s economy still relies heavily on agriculture, which accounts for 19% of the country’s GDP. Around 64% of Pakistan’s population lives in rural areas, most of who are employed directly or indirectly in agriculture. Small farms dominate Pakistan’s agriculture.
There is an urgent need for enhancing the policy focus on smallholders in general and on horticulture and livestock and dairy farming in particular, because of the dominance of small farmers in these segments of agriculture. Given the federal structure of Pakistan’s public sector, this transformation will need to be supported by both national and provincial level governments. In conclusion, smallholder agriculture in Pakistan is facing a multitude of challenges that are collectively holding down its performance far below its potential. Because small farmers are lacking in education and training in supplying to modern food markets, their productivity and household incomes remain low.
By following the recommendations of this report, central and provincial governments can help small farmers to overcome these challenges, integrate with modern food supply chains, and become much more efficient and prosperous.