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Opinion

September 11, 2015

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Agriculture and environment

Agriculture and environment

Agri-Environmental Indicators (AEIs) help evaluate the environmental performance of the agriculture sector of a country. The main AEIs are energy, fertilizers, land, livestock, pesticides, soil, water and air and climate change.
According to the FAO, energy use in Pakistan’s agriculture and forestry sector, which was 1.36 percent of the country’s total energy use in the year 2000, declined to 1.28 percent in the year 2009. Similarly, bioenergy production was 94.20 percent of the total renewable energy production in the year 2000 ; it declined to 92.44 percent in 2009.
The decline in energy use and production is due to the severe energy crisis in Pakistan. Comparing these figures with other top agriculture-exporting countries of the world such as the US, Germany and Brazil will further point out Pakistan’s relative status on the globe.
In the US, the energy used in agriculture and forestry was 0.91 percent of the total energy use in 2000; it increased to 0.98 percent 2009. Bioenergy production was 59.73 percent of the total bioenergy production 2000 increased to 62.83 percent in the year 2009. In Germany, the energy used in agriculture and forestry was 0.40 percent of the total energy use 2000, and it increased to 0.45 percent in 2009. Bioenergy production was 60.19 percent of the total bioenergy production in 2000, which increased to 69.60 percent in the year 2009.
In Brazil, the energy used in agriculture and forestry was 4.73 percent of the total energy use in 2000; it increased to 4.95 percent in 2009. On the other hand, bioenergy production was 63.92 percent of the total bioenergy production in 2000; this increased to 69.20 percent in the year 2009. Although, Pakistan is in better position in terms of producing higher bioenergy production, the declining trend is worrisome.
In Pakistan, the nitrogen fertilizer (nutrient use on arable and permanent crop area) was 107.09 (tonnes of nutrients per 1000 ha) in 2002, which increased to 152.83 (tonnes of nutrients per 1000 ha) in the year 2010. In 2002, the nitrogen fertilizer (nutrient use on arable and permanent crop area) for the US, Germany and Brazil was 62.29, 149.02 and 26.64 (tonnes of nutrients per 1000 ha) respectively. While in the year 2010, this indicators was 70.73, 148.32 and 36.87 (tonnes of nutrients per 1000 ha) respectively.
In Pakistan, the total agricultural area was 34.96 percent of the total land area in 2000 but declined to 34.44 percent in the year 2011. The annual percentage change in agriculture area was 0.26 in 2000 and 0.57 percent in the year 2011. Arable land was 79.01 percent of the total agricultural land in the year 2000; this dropped to 78.02 percent in the year 2011. The area under permanent crops was 2.44 percent of the total agriculture land in the year 2000; in 2011 this area had increased to 3.15 percent. The total area equipped with irrigation facility was 67.12 percent of the total agricultural land in the year 2000 but it increased to 76.08 percent in 2011.
Cattle and buffaloes were 16.57 percent of the total livestock in the year 2000; this number dropped to 13.21 percent in 2011. Sheep and goats were 26.52 percent of the total livestock in 2000 but in 20122 this number went down to 17.58 percent.
The percentage of pesticides-as-active-ingredient use in arable land and permanent crops was 0.29 (tonnes per 1000 Ha) in the year 1994, which increased to 0.54 (tonnes per 1000 Ha) in 2001.
The indicator of water withdrawal for agricultural use was 94.26 percent of the total water withdrawal in 2000; this number declined to 93.95 percent in the year 2008.
Pakistan performed well in some agri-environmental indicators. Being an agricultural country we mainly rely on this sector and thus there is a need to improve these indicators. There is also need to develop a detailed database of AEIs that would further help cover the weak areas.
The writer is an assistant professor at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad.
Email: [email protected]

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