Pakistan + 1 more

Special Report: FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Pakistan

Mission Highlights

  • Prolonged and progressively extending drought in parts of Pakistan has decimated livestock, and severely affected fruit and rainfed cereal production.
  • Balochistan, parts of Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab, in their third consecutive year of drought, have taken the brunt of the damage with livestock numbers in some districts reduced by up to 60 percent of their 1999 levels.
  • Fruit farmers in parts of Balochistan Province face financial ruin as large numbers of fruit trees have virtually dried up and the rest rendered unproductive by severe water shortages.
  • Rainfed (Barani) wheat production is about 70 percent below the average of the previous five years and 62 percent below last year’s reduced crop.
  • Total wheat production is estimated at about 18.7 million tonnes, 11 percent down on 2000, while rice production is forecast at 3.9 million tonnes, some 24 percent below last year.
  • Large cereal stocks from last year’s bumper crop are anticipated to cover this year’s shortfall in cereal production. However, wheat imports may be necessary to replenish cereal stocks.
  • Government interventions to mitigate the effects of the drought have so far been effective in averting large-scale human suffering. However, some 349 000 drought-affected people comprising farmers who lost the bulk of their fruit trees, pastoralists and landless rural households, are of particular concern and require emergency assistance.
  • Urgent assistance is also required to mitigate the severe water shortages in parts and to provide feed and vaccines for livestock and seeds for the next cropping season.


As part of a wider regional weather phenomenon which has affected a number of countries in South Asia and the Near East, a prolonged drought has seriously affected crop and livestock production in Pakistan. Last year, Balochistan and parts of Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab Province were particularly affected with serious consequences on the food security of a large segment of the population. The Government’s extensive efforts to reduce the effects of the drought by providing extra resources for food and feed rations, water and veterinary supplies have helped avert a humanitarian disaster, so far. However, continued extended drought conditions in the first half of this year have increased the scale and severity of the problem raising humanitarian concerns that require urgent attention.

Against this background an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, funded by UNDP, was fielded to the country from 23 May to 18 June 2001 to assess the impact of the drought and review agricultural and food supply prospects for the current marketing year. The Mission's findings are based on discussions with Federal, Provincial and District Authorities, UN agencies and NGOs based in the country, and field visits to all the provinces, particularly extensively in the drought affected Provinces of Balochistan, Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab.

The Mission found that rainfall, essential for both rainfed and irrigated food production, was between 50 and 80 percent below normal in most parts of the country during the last winter cropping season (January-March). Last year’s Monsoon rainfall (July-September) was also more than 40 percent below normal. Consequently, rainfed agriculture and vegetation in the grazing lands were severely affected. Rainfed wheat production, estimated at about 541 000 tonnes this year, is nearly 70 percent below the average of the last five years and 62 percent below last year’s reduced crop. However, as more than 90 percent of wheat production is irrigated, the overall impact of the drought is not great, though still significant. As of mid-June, latest total wheat estimates were put at about 18.7 million tonnes, 11 percent lower than last year's bumper crop. The 2001 rice crop, planted from May, is forecast at a reduced 3.9 million tonnes due to water shortages in irrigation schemes, compared to last year’s bumper 5.2 million tonnes and the average of 4.5 million tonnes for the last five years. With additional coarse grains crop of about 1.9 million tonnes, total cereal production in 2001/02 is, therefore, estimated at nearly 24.6 million tonnes.

From a national perspective, overall supplies will be just sufficient to meet the consumption requirements in 2001/02 marketing year. Domestic consumption and other utilisation requirements are expected to be met from current production and drawdown of large wheat stocks from last year’s good crop. Some exports of wheat due to earlier contracts are also forecast. Rice exports are anticipated to be lower than last year’s volume of 2 million tonnes. However, the prolonged drought has seriously eroded the food security of a large number of farmers, particularly in Balochistan, parts of Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab.

As a result of the prolonged drought, livestock losses of more than 60 percent of herds were estimated in some districts of Balochistan and Sindh. The livestock sector plays an extremely important role in the country’s economy, providing the main source of household income for many. In addition, vast remote pastoral areas have little or no access to alternative food sources and animals play a vital role in household food security, providing essential nutritional needs through meat and milk. Available estimates indicate that, for the country as a whole, animals provide around 20 kg of meat and nearly 160 kg of milk products per caput annually. The dietary contributions in the agro-pastoral regions is estimated to be much larger. Large losses, therefore, will have a direct and severe impact on household food security, especially for those in remote areas.

Distress sales of livestock have saturated the markets, specially in the second half of last year, leading to a sharp drop in prices. For instance, average price of a sheep have tumbled by nearly 90 percent from Rupees 2 400 in November 1999 to Rupees 285 in November 2000 in Pishin district in Balochistan. Similar drops have been observed in almost all parts of Balochistan and parts of Sindh. Prices have since recovered in Balochistan due to the sharp decline in livestock population and some hopes that resulted from scattered rains in March and April 2001, but have yet to reach their levels before the drought. In parts of Sindh, however, prices are still depressed reflecting expectations of continued drought and sharp falls in disposable income.

Fruit farms have also been severely affected with irreversible damage in large tracts of land, particularly in northern parts of Balochistan. Farmers face financial ruin as large numbers of trees have virtually dried up and/or been rendered unproductive due to severe water shortages. With ground water levels already very low and receding at an alarming rate, the recovery and continuation of fruit farms may have been compromised in these areas. Medium to long-term strategies to adjust to these emerging circumstances may be warranted.

Furthermore, the purchasing power of a large number of unskilled labourers in the drought-affected areas has been seriously eroded. Wage rates fell sharply, in some cases by more than one-half of their 1999 levels, due to the increased number of the unemployed following diminished opportunities within and outside agriculture. The Mission estimates that some 349 000 drought affected people, comprising smallholders, pastoralists, and landless rural households, particularly in parts of Balochistan, Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab, will require emergency assistance until next harvest in April 2002.

Prospects for the 2001 monsoon season, which has just started, are favourable with near-normal rainfall forecast over most of the monsoon receiving zones. In areas that fall outside the monsoon belt, mainly in Balochistan and parts of Sindh, a respite, if any, is not expected until the start of the winter season towards the end of the year. Overall, however, easing of the effects of the prolonged drought conditions and replenishment of ground-water levels will require several good rainfall seasons.

To revive production capacity for the next winter season, emergency support to the agriculture sector should include the provision of seed, recovery packages in the fruit sector, particularly to those farmers who lost their fruit trees; the provision of fodder and concentrate feed to meet extra feed requirements and mineral-vitamin blocks to balance livestock rations; the provision of vaccines to cover possible outbreaks of stress-induced diseases with a training package for vaccinators; and, finally, the provision of credit facilities to assist farmers in accessing the inputs and support services.


Sources include: Pakistan Economic Survey 2000-2001, Agricultural statistics of Pakistan 1999-00, Economist Intelligence Unit, Monthly Statistical Bulletin, Vol.49 No.5.

Pakistan is endowed with a land area of about 0.8 million square kilometres. The country experiences extreme temperatures, ranging from +50 degrees centigrade or more in the desert parts of Sindh and Balochistan to -50 degrees centigrade in winter on the northern mountain ranges. The population, estimated at 140.5 million at the beginning 2001, is overwhelmingly rural. The population growth rate fell to an estimated 2.1 percent this year from 2.4 percent in 1998 and 3.1 percent in 1972-81. Today, Pakistan is the seventh most populous country in the world.

Growth of the country’s GDP slowed in the 1990s to an annual average of 5 percent in the first half and 4 percent in the second half from an average rate of 6 percent in the 1980s. Growth performance during 2000/01 was adversely affected by the worst drought in decades and also by falling export commodity prices, and the persistence of high oil prices on the international market. Real GDP growth in 2000/01 is estimated at 2.6 percent compared to 3.9 percent last year. Agriculture accounts for a large share in GDP, contributing about 25 percent in 1999/2000. It employs about 44 percent of the labour force and supports about 75 percent of the population. The total cultivable area was estimated at 31.1 million hectares last year, which is about 38 percent of the total area, mainly concentrated in the Indus plain. In 1999/2000, the total cultivated area was estimated at almost 22 million hectares, or 70 percent of the cultivable area, consisting of 21.3 million hectares of annual crops and about 0.7 million hectares of permanent crops.

Over the last decade, agriculture grew at an average annual rate of 4.5 percent with some fluctuation in growth mainly on account of weather conditions. Agricultural growth has, however, suffered a severe setback during 2000/01 due to the unprecedented drought situation and shortage of irrigation water, causing a decline of 2.5 percent as against an impressive growth of 6.1 percent last year. According to the calorie-based poverty definition (headcount ratio), the incidence of poverty, which declined sharply from 46.5 percent in 1970 to 17.3 percent in 1988 has increased significantly in the 1990s, rising from 17.3 percent in 1988 to 31 percent in 1997. Recent estimates suggest that poverty has further increased to 33.5 percent in 2000.

Inflation, as measured by the changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), averaged 9.7 percent per annum during the 1990s, with 11.5 percent in the first half (1990-95) and 7.9 percent in the second half (1996-2000). During the first ten months (July-April) of the current fiscal year, CPI is estimated at 4.7 as against 3.4 percent in the comparable period of last year. Food and non-food inflation generally followed the overall inflationary trends. Food prices increased at a rate of 4.1 percent as against a 2.0 percent rise in the same period last year. The comparatively higher increase in the current fiscal year may be attributed primarily to an increase in the government administered prices such as oil price hike, upward adjustment of gas and electricity tariffs, and increase in the prices of food items such as sugar, milk, pulses and tea. The pressure on Pakistan’s currency, the rupee, also mounted due largely to heavy demand for US dollars to clear up foreign repayment obligations and oil import bills. From the beginning of the current fiscal year, the rupee has depreciated by about 20 percent, from Rs52.5/US dollar in July 2000 to Rs63.9/Us dollar in May 2001.

The growth pattern of exports in the 1990s exhibited a fluctuating trend - expanding by as much as 23.8 percent in 1990/91 and contracting by 9.8 percent in 1998/99. Exports rebounded in 1999/2000, rising by about 10 percent. The sharp fluctuation in exports growth is mainly attributed to the concentration of exports in few items and in few markets. Five categories of goods, cotton yarn, garments, cotton cloth, raw cotton and rice account for over 60 percent of export earnings. Import trends have also seen large fluctuations in the 1990s, expanding by as much as 21.4 percent in 1991/92, mainly due to huge imports of machinery and wheat and falling sharply by as much as 14.9 percent in 1997/98. The contraction was due to the effective demand management policies pursued to restore macroeconomic stability which compressed import demand. A further decline of about 6.8 percent was recorded in 1998/99 due to import restriction measures. Imports rebounded by about 9.3 percent in 1999/2000 mainly as a result of sharp surges in the prices of crude oil and petroleum products.


3.1 Rainfall

During 2000/01, drought conditions that have prevailed in parts of Pakistan since 1999 extended further, covering almost all provinces, making it the worst prolonged drought on record. In parts of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab the drought has prevailed for more than three years. In the last winter cropping season (January-March) precipitation generally halved compared to the long-term average. In Balochistan, the worst affected province, winter rains compared to long term average were down by 63 percent. As most parts of the Province do not receive monsoon rains, a respite is only likely towards the end of the year.

Despite the favourable forecast for the summer (Kharif) cropping season in monsoon rains receiving areas, preliminary meteorological forecast indicates that availability of irrigation water will decline by 55 to 65 percent during the early part of Kharif season (April to June) and 16 to 26 percent in the latter part of the season (July to September) due to the cumulative effects of low rainfall seasons, including the main monsoon season.

3.2 Agricultural Production

Agricultural production during 2000/01 as compared to previous years is shown in Table 1. In the last six years, both total area sown and its distribution among crops varied slightly while output of major crops has been erratic due, mainly, to the drought conditions that prevailed over the last three years.

Table 1. Pakistan: Agricultural Production in 1995/96 - 2000/01
(Area ‘000 hectares - Production ‘000 tonnes)

22 590
22 730
23 040
22 860
22 760
22 760
Percent of cropped area to:
- Foodgrains
- Cash crops
- Others
- Area
12 473
12 112
12 617
12 598
12 734
12 184
- Production
22 968
22 960
25 161
24 774
28 380
24 581
- Area
8 376
8 109
8 355
8 230
8 463
8 430
- Production
16 907
16 630
18 694
17 857
21 079
18 735
- Area
2 162
2 251
2 317
2 424
2 515
2 060
- Production
3 966
4 305
4 333
4 673
5 155
3 900
- Area
2 997
3 149
2 959
2 923
2 983
2 560
- Production (‘000 bales)
10 595
9 374
9 184
8 790
10 600
9 700
- Area
1 056
1 155
1 010
- Production
45 229
41 998
53 104
55 191
44 000
35 000
- Area
- Production
6 091
6 187
6 295
6 345
5 846
5 564
- Area
2 715
2 651
2 680
2 646
2 556
1 917
- Production
60 383
60 518
61 300
60 500
58 414
43 810
- Meat (beef, mutton, poultry)
- Milk ('000 litres)
28 577
29 930
30 126
30 948
31 804
24 976
- Eggs (millions)
5 927
5 757
6 015
8 261
8 464
6 660

Source: Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock ,Agricultural statistics of Pakistan, 1999-00.
1/ Includes minor cereals such as sorghum, millet, maize and barley.

The 2000/01 forecast of cereal production compared to last year is summarised in Table 2, indicating an overall decline of about 13 percent against last year production.

Table 2. Pakistan: Cereal Production in 2000/2001 Compared to Last Year ('000 tonnes)

Percentage change 2000/01
on 1999/00
18 238
21 079
18 7351
- 11
Rice (milled)
4 487
5 155
3 9002
- 24
1 565
1 652
1 4892
- 10
- 8
24 849
28 380
24 581
- 13

1/ Revised Government estimates
2/ Mission forecast based on area planted and discussions with agricultural officials indicate an output of about 3.9 million tonnes. Coarse grains are also computed by the mission based on discussions and field observations.

Amongst the major food crops, wheat production is estimated at 18.7 million tonnes against 21.1 million last year, showing a decline of 11 percent. This year’s rice production is forecast to decline by 24 percent to 3.9 million tonnes against last year’s crop of about 5.2 million tonnes. Initial target for rice was about 4.2 million tonnes. However, irrigation water shortages that have affected early planting in the main producing areas of Punjab and Sindh have prompted a downward revision.

Table 3. Pakistan: Cereal Production by Province, 2000/2001* Compared to Average (‘000 tonnes )

Total Pakistan
5-year average
18 238
13 660
2 625
1 183
16 598
12 670
2 544
1 640
18 735
15 500
2 005
18 194
15 130
1 982
5-year average
4 487
2 054
1 911
3 900
1 785
1 660
5-year average
1 565
1 489
Other cereals **
5-year average
All cereals
5-year average
24 849
16 766
4 643
2 194
1 245
Percent share
24 581
18 275
3 750
1 670
Percent share
Percent change 2000/01 to average

Source : Agricultural statistics of Pakistan, 1999-00, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock

  • Estimates for 2000/2001 based on revised forecasts, discussions with agricultural officials and field visits. ** Other cereals include sorghum, millet and barley.

As indicated in the above tables, production estimates of other minor cereals (maize, sorghum, millet and barley) were also reduced by the drought in 2000/2001 compared to both last year and the previous five year’s average.

3.3 Fruit production

Fruit production includes citrus, apples, apricots, almonds and mangoes among others. Total production for last five years averaged 6.2 million tonnes annually, including 2 million tonnes of citrus, 900 000 tonnes of mangoes and about 532 000 tonnes of apples. While the figures for 2000/01 are not yet available, it is estimated that apple production was reduced by at least 50 percent due to drought. Fruit farmers, particularly in parts of northern Balochistan are facing financial ruin as large numbers of trees have dried up and are being cut as firewood. With ground water levels already very low and receding at an alarming rate, the recovery and continuation of fruit farms may have been compromised in these areas. Medium to long-term strategies to adjust to these emerging circumstances may be warranted.

3.4 Vegetables

Total vegetables production over the last five years averaged 4.3 million tonnes, but in 2000/01 output was reduced by between 6 and 10 percent. Compared to last year’s production, onion output was reduced by 9.2 percent and potato by 7.6 percent. Chilli, however, increased by 42 percent, while mung bean and mash beans increased by 10 percent and 8 percent respectively.

3.5 Livestock production

Livestock production plays important roles both in contributing to the national economy and livelihood for a large number of people living in rural and urban areas in all provinces. In normal years, livestock production contributes nearly 9 percent to GDP, about 37 percent to the agriculture sector output and about 10 percent of total export earnings of the country. Available estimates indicate that, for the country as a whole, animals provide around 20 kg of meat and nearly 160 kg of milk products per caput annually. The dietary contributions in the agro-pastoral regions is much larger. In addition, vast remote pastoral areas have little or no access to alternative food sources and animals play a vital role in household food security, providing essential nutritional needs through meat and milk. Large losses, therefore, will have direct and severe impact on household food security, especially for those in remote and inaccessible areas.

Total livestock population, including cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, asses and mules, is estimated at 55 million heads. About 23 million or nearly 42 percent are found in Balochistan province, while NWFP hosts 15 million, Punjab 12 million and Sindh nearly 5 million. Out of these it is estimated that the drought has affected about 43 percent in Punjab, 40 percent in Balochistan and NWFP, and 66 percent in Sindh. Table 3 summarises the livestock situation nation-wide and at the provincial level. The cumulative loss, in the last three drought years, is estimated at 43 percent of the country's livestock population. Heavy direct losses due to animal mortality, production losses and distress sales of animals have been widely reported.

Table 4. Pakistan: Impact of Drought on Livestock Population by Provinces (in millions)

Total livestock
Livestock affected
Percent of total
Livestock losses (in million rupees)
1 332
13 843
5 266
1 471
4 060
3 046
15 175
5 595
1 632
4 426
3 522

3.6 Emergency Support Required to the Agriculture Sector

From the above, the following emergency measures warrant serious consideration:

  • water supply, both for humans and livestock, is most urgent, including the rehabilitation of the traditional community based water management system of using karezes;
  • as household carryover seed stocks will be negligible, appropriate seeds of cereals are likely to be needed for the winter planting season;
  • animal feed stocks need to be boosted and made accessible to farmers.

Details of rehabilitation needs, associated costs and other measures required, including the establishment of an Early Warning System, will be issued in a separate report by FAO’s Special Relief Operations Service.

3.7 Early Prospects for Current Summer (Monsoon) Season Production

Although any projections for the monsoon 2001 season crops, being planted, are tentative, projections of favourable rainfall should assist some recovery. Early forecasts from the Department of Meteorology indicate normal to above-normal rains for most monsoon rainfall receiving areas. However, water shortages have already compromised land allocations under rice prompting downward revisions of paddy production. Furthermore, for areas that fall outside the monsoon belt, mainly in Balochistan and parts of Sindh, a respite, if any, is not expected until the start of the winter season towards the end of the year. Overall, however, easing of the effects of the prolonged drought conditions and replenishment of ground-water levels will require several good rainfall seasons.


4.1 Government Measures in Response to the Drought

In response to the severity of the drought this year, the Government has undertaken a number of emergency measures including:

  • cash support of Rs 2 000 per household provided to 1.2 million most poor and vulnerable households, costing Rs 2.5 billion;
  • provision of financial support to 2.5 million poorest households through the disbursement of Zakat money, amounting to Rs 2 billion;
  • launching of the micro-credit (Kushali) Bank in all four provinces to help improve poor people’s access to credit;
  • initiation of small public works in rural areas and small towns to provide employment opportunities and improve infrastructures in these areas;
  • increased public awareness about water use and conservation and better allocation of water resources;
  • changing cropping patterns from high delta to low delta crops including a ban on planting rice in certain areas of Sindh;
  • promotion of efficient cultivation methods;
  • improvement of some 8 000 watercourses;
  • assisting farmers in installing skimming tube-wells in each province;
  • provision of sprinkler and drip irrigation systems for demonstration purposes and construction of small dams in rainfed areas.

During 1999/2000, the Government also distributed more than 400 000 acres of agricultural land to about 54 000 landless families in the four provinces. Land distribution to poor families was also launched in the drought affected Tharparker area of Sindh Province.

4.2 Cereal Imports and Exports

Imports of food commodities, notably edible oils, sugar and grains, play a prominent role in Pakistan’s total food supply. Grain imports consist predominantly of wheat. Traditionally, Pakistan is a net importer of wheat and in the late 1990s, imports of wheat were expanding, peaking at more than 4 million tonnes in 1997/98 (Figure 1). It is estimated that these imports cover from 10 to 20 percent of national consumption needs. In 2000/01, however, a record wheat crop, estimated at about at about 21 million tonnes more than satisfied domestic requirements and hence there were no imports. Wheat imports in 2000/01 consisted of WFP donations for Afghan refugees in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2001/02, officials maintain that there will not be any need for wheat imports, despite the 11 percent drop in output, due to the large stocks available.

Although wheat exports are generally disallowed, some unrecorded quantities move into Afghanistan. This year the Government has approved wheat sales for export to Afghanistan to regularise these shipments. Total wheat exports already committed to Afghanistan and other destinations, some of which have already been shipped, are estimated at about 500 000 tonnes.

Pakistan is a major rice exporter and all trade is done by the private sector. Major export destinations include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and countries in the Middle East. In the 1990s amounts of rice exports varied from a low of about one million tonnes in 1993/94 to a high of above 2 million tonnes in 1997/98 and 2000/01. During 2001/02, exports are expected to contract due to the forecast fall in production.

4.3 Current Market Situation

In Pakistan, the wheat and rice markets, among others, are regulated to provide price stability to producers, consumers and traders. Procurement prices are fixed annually by the Government on the recommendation of the Agricultural Prices Commission. The procurement price is usually announced before the crop is sown. This is a price received by the farmers and private traders who sell their produce to the Government procurement centres. The procurement prices act as a floor price below which the free market prices may not fall.

Table 5. Pakistan: Support and Market Prices of Wheat and Rice 1996/97 - 2000/01 (Rs/40kg)

Rice (Basmati Paddy)
Support Price
Market PriceSupport PriceMarket Price

Sources: Agricultural Statistics of Pakistan 1999-00; Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Economics Vol. 4 No. 1

Domestic prices for flour and bread increased significantly last year due to a 25 percent increase in the support (procurement) price of wheat and reduction in consumption subsidy.

As already indicated, the severe drought has had a devastating effect on range vegetation, as well as on the availability of feed from grain and crop residues, especially in rainfed areas. The drastic fall in feed has led to widespread loss in livestock. Distress sales of livestock have saturated the markets, specially in the second half of last year, leading to a sharp drop in prices (Figure 2). Compared to earlier years, for instance, average prices of sheep have tumbled by nearly 90 percent from Rupees 2 400 in November 1999 to Rupees 285 in November 2000 in Pishin district in Balochistan. Similar drops have been recorded in almost all parts of Balochistan and parts of Sindh. Prices have since recovered in Balochistan due to the sharp decline in livestock population and some hopes that resulted from scattered rains in March and April 2001, but have yet to reach their levels before the drought. In parts of Sindh, however, prices are still depressed reflecting expectations of continued drought and sharp falls in disposable income.

Furthermore, the purchasing power of large numbers of unskilled labourers in the drought affected areas has been seriously eroded. Wage rates have fallen sharply, in some cases by more than one-half of their 1999 levels, due to the increased number of unemployed people following diminished opportunities within and outside agriculture.

4.4 Cereal Supply/Demand Balance in 2001/02 (May/April)

The cereal balance for 2001/02 (May/April), shown in Table 6, is based on an estimated mid-marketing year population of 141 million and the following assumptions:

  • total cereal production in 2001/02 is estimated at about 24.58 million tonnes, consisting of 18.7 million tonnes of wheat, 3.9 million tonnes of rice, 1.5 million tones of maize and 0.5 million tonnes of other cereals (sorghum, millet and barley). Together with carryover stocks, this gives a domestic availability of 28.4 million tonnes of cereals.
  • opening stocks of about 3.85 million tonnes of cereals, consisting of about 3.55 million tonnes of wheat, 200 000 tonnes of rice and 100 000 tonnes of coarse grains, reflecting last year’s bumper wheat crop.
  • per caput cereal consumption of 160 kg/annum, consisting of 138 kg of wheat, 14 kg of rice, 6 kg of maize, and 2 kg of other grains.
  • other Uses (including feed, seed and losses) estimated at 10 percent of production for wheat and rice. For coarse grains, however, about 820 000 tonnes, the bulk of which is for feed, are assumed.
  • cereal exports, (including wheat commitments) are estimated at 2.2 million tonnes.

Table 6. Pakistan: Cereal Balance Sheet for 2001/02 (May/April) (‘000 tonnes).

Rice (milled)
Domestic Availability
28 433
22 287
4 100
1 564
- Opening stocks
3 852
3 552
- Production
24 581
18 735
3 900
1 489
28 433
22 287
4 100
1 564
- Food Use
22 560
19 458
1 974
- Other Uses (seed, feed, losses)
3 082
1 874
- Export*
2 200
1 700
- Closing Stocks
Import Requirement

* Export estimates for wheat are based on commitments.

With an estimated cereal production of about 24.58 million tonnes, the country's cereal shortfall in 2001/02 (May/April) marketing year is expected to be covered by a drawdown of large carry-over stocks from last year’s bumper crop. However, a sharp drawdown of cereal stocks as indicated in the table, particularly for wheat, may not be acceptable to the government and therefore some wheat imports may be necessary to keep stocks at higher levels.


5.1 Government measures taken so far

While recognizing the immediate needs of the population, the Government’s drought mitigation strategy in 2000/1 also emphasised on the implementation of medium and long-term activities. This strategy will continue to be the guiding principle for drought relief activities in 2001/2002. In response to the widespread drought of 2001, the Government of Pakistan requested all provincial authorities to undertake assessments in their respective provinces and submit proposals for funding. Relief/Crisis Management Centers have been established to coordinate drought activities in all provinces. Working groups have been constituted at the district, provincial and federal level to assess losses caused by the drought and the worst affected areas have been identified as calamity stricken areas. The federal government has established an emergency relief cell in the Cabinet Division to coordinate with the provincial relief cells.

In 2000, the Central Government provided Rs 0.9 billion to the Balochistan province and Rs 1 billion to the Sindh province for the drought relief operations. The Governments of Japan, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria donated emergency funds and in kind assistance to the Pakistan Government for Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

Balochistan Province

In addition to Rs 0.9 billion received from the federal government, the provincial government allocated Rs 0.245 billion from its own budget for drought operations in 2000. Additional donations in kind and cash were received directly from the provincial Governments of Punjab and NWFP and external financial support countries from such as Japan, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

The relief commission was established to co-ordinate the drought operations on behalf of the provincial government in 2000. A parallel structure in the army, the drought crisis control centre, was established to co-ordinate the operations of the army and to particularly assist with logistical operations. These two structures regularly liase to share information and jointly plan activities. During the relief operations of 2000, thirty-five relief centers were established in 22 districts for the distribution of food and feed. In the initial stages of the relief programme, eight camps were established for families in search of food and water to congregate. The Government policy was later changed to encourage people to stay in their villages with food, water and medical services to be taken to them.

In line with the Government policy, the major part of the drought relief activities in Balochistan was undertaken as short, medium and long-term projects. These projects included installation and rehabilitation of water facilities, construction of roads, improvement of rangelands, extension of veterinary facilities, production of stock of feed, distribution of wheat seed and soft loans to farmers. This year, the provincial Government of Balochistan has identified 23 districts as drought affected areas and projects worth Rs. 4.3 billion for drought rehabilitation for the year 2001/2002.

Sindh Province

In Sindh, drought relief activities started in September 1999 when Thar district was designated as calamity stricken. In 2000, the provincial authorities provided support to four districts, as the drought became more widespread. The provincial government waived land tax, postponed the recovery of loans and provided subsidised wheat at half the market price for two months for the population in the areas designated as calamity hit. Medical and veterinary teams were constituted to provide treatment of humans and animals. Free fodder was provided to livestock keeping households and tube wells were installed to improve the drinking water supply. A wide range of short, medium and long term measures such as the construction of roads, installation of pipeline water scheme, electrification and public work programmes have been implemented. These public works projects have created some employment opportunities for the local population and have to some extent strengthened the ability of households to cope with the losses in the agricultural and livestock sectors.

This year, the Government has designated the districts of Tharparkar, Mirpukhas and Sanghar and Kachho and Kohistan regions of Dadu and Thatta as calamity-hit areas and has allocated Rs 312.16 million for various relief measures. These calamity-hit areas are exempt from water charges and land taxes and recovery of loans have been postponed. Additionally, the Government will provide subsidies for 40 kg of wheat per family for three months and as well as subsidies for fodder. The Government of Sindh will continue to place emphasis on the medium and long-term measures.

Punjab Province

The Punjab Government has announced a relief package to mitigate the effects of drought in the 10 out of 34 worst hit districts for 2001. It includes the remission of agricultural income taxes, land taxes and water charges, the postponement of recovery of agriculture loans, free distribution of wheat to affected families, medical care for livestock and improvement of water facilities. Punjab province, which produces about 75 percent of the total national wheat production, provided food assistance and livestock feed to Sindh and Balochistan provinces in 2000.


Similar to the provincial Governments of Punjab and Sindh, the North West Frontier Province plans to waive the agricultural income taxes, land taxes and water charges, the postponement of recovery of agriculture loans, distribute subsidized wheat to affected families, medical care for livestock and improvement of water facilities for the drought affected districts during the current year. The emphasis of the drought mitigation activities will be medium and long-term interventions.

5.2 WFP Programmes

The World Food Programme has been providing assistance to Pakistan for about 29 years, principally working in natural resources management, promoting primary education for girls to increase their enrolment and attendance, promoting pregnant women’s attendance to health centres for antenatal care and health and nutrition education and emergency assistance for the Afghan refugees.

From July 2001, WFP will begin implementing a country programme with a total value of US$8 million per annum through three activities:

  • Promotion of girl primary education. WFP provides oil as incentive in food insecure areas to poor families to encourage them to send their girls to school.
  • Promotion of safe motherhood. The program is encouraging pregnant women to attend antenatal clinics to ensure that the mother has safe delivery and the child starts new life with improved childcare. Tetanus shots and nutrition and health education are included amongst the planned services.
  • Creating Assets for Rural Women (CARW). This component is largely community based and will create physical, economic and social assets for women to improve their well being. Food insecure participating households will identify community needs, which will form the basis of their work activity, and in return they will receive food stamps. In Tharpkar in Sindh province, WFP plans to implement the CARW to improve drinking water supply in partnership with NGOS.

In addition to the three development activities, WFP is currently implementing an Emergency Operations, which is providing emergency food assistance to about 65 000 recently arrived Afghan refugees in NWFP, Pakistan

Although WFP did not have an Emergency Relief Operation for drought, it provided a one- time assistance of 400 tonnes of wheat and 72 tonnes of oil to 105 000 drought affected people in Balochistan and 352 tonnes of oil to 62 000 families in Sindh.

5.3 Household Coping Mechanisms

Close to one in four people or 33 million people in Pakistan live in the Barani (or rainfed), semi-arid, dry lands, deserts and the drought prone areas. These areas of Balochistan, southern Sindh and parts of NWFP and Punjab primarily depend upon rainfall for agricultural and livestock production. These areas have received below average rainfall in the last two years. Compared to the irrigated areas where two or three crops are grown, the Barani and dry areas can grow only one crop. The income sources in these areas are less diversified and their levels lower than the irrigated lands.

In Balochistan, the major livelihood is livestock production as about 70 percent of households own livestock. Three livestock production systems exist; 1) the nomads are almost entirely dependent on livestock, 2) the transhumant livestock population primarily depend upon livestock but also grow rainfed crops and 3) the sedentary population grows crops but also keep livestock and may have access to irrigation. Each of these groups comprise of 30-35 percent of the population. In northern Balochistan, fruit production is also a major source of income. In the arid areas of Sindh, livestock rearing is the main source of income but the majority of livestock households are sedentary and settled.

In a normal year, pastoralists sell livestock and milk products and the incomes from these sources are used to purchase wheat for household consumption and other non-food needs. Livestock also provides meat, milk, and yogurt for household consumption. It is estimated that up to 70-80 percent of incomes of the nomadic population is from livestock. A holding of 20 animals, although considered small, is adequate to support the basic needs of a family through sale of the off-take, while maintaining the breeding stock.

During the 1999/2000-drought year, households lost 40-45 percent of their livestock. Livestock owners did not breed their animals due to lack of water and poor pasture conditions and therefore do not have the off-take needed for sale. This coupled with the fewer animal holdings has deprived households of a major source income. The worst affected households are the smallholders who normally have less than 20 sheep and goats but now have less than 10.

In northern Balochistan, about 60 percent of fruit trees have dried and the remaining trees are unlikely to survive as the water table continues to recede. The uplands are the worst affected areas, where 60-100 percent of the fruit trees have dried in Loralai, Killa Saifulla and Pishin.

These upland areas in northern Balochistan also have the largest losses of animals. In a normal year, low income households in these areas have 10-15 fruit trees and about 10 goats/sheep. In the past, such small holdings provided sufficient income for food and other basic needs. Smallholders in the upland areas with landholdings of less than half an acre have lost all fruit trees, as they have no access to tube well irrigation. Households are now selling the dried trees at Rs 25 per 40 kg as firewood. This is the last income to be earned from fruit trees that used to generate gross revenue of about Rs 5000 per tree every two years. Many are now planning to move to urban centers to look for employment, which is getting scarce due to the slowdown of the economy.

Prior to the drought, migrant labor was a good secondary source of income for rural households during. Households normally have male members working in nearby urban centers and/or irrigated areas during off-farm season for a short period. In Balochistan, off-farm season activities have been wage employment in coal mines and construction. The orchards provided employment to the landless and nomadic and transhumant pastoralists.

In the Barani and desert areas of Sindh, Punjab and NWFP, the major sources of off-season employment are the urban centers and/or irrigated areas, particularly the big urban centers of Karachi and the high crop producing areas of Punjab.

In Killa Abdulla, Balochistan for example, the district authorities estimated that 25-30 camps of nomadic populations have settled near orchards with functioning water sources (one camp had 30 households). The majority of the nomadic populations in these camps arrived two years ago but there were some new arrivals noted during the mission. The normal migratory pattern of the nomads appears to be disrupted. They are staying longer at one place as many lost their livestock last year. This has led to some social conflicts.

The three-year drought has intensified the dependence on migrant wage labor. In all villages visited, households mentioned sending young men outside the village to look for employment. However, the increased supply of labor has resulted in the decline of wage rates from Rs 100 per day in June 2000 to about Rs 40-60 in 2001. In 1999, livestock prices declined by 90 percent compared to 1998. Although, livestock prices have increased in 2001 (due to improved conditions of animals as result of the reduced stock) they have not gone back to the 1998 prices. In Sindh, livestock prices have continued to decline and are lower in 2001 than in 2000. Thus, the drought-affected households have not only lost their livestock, they are also receiving less income from the sale of their animals.

In general, the nominal price of wheat has remained stable as the wheat price is regulated. However, a 50 percent decline in the wage rate and 90 percent reduction in the price of livestock means that drought-affected households are facing a significant increase in the real price of wheat and other essential commodities. This has severely eroded their capacity to cope.

During the last two years (and in some areas four to six years), households have absorbed the shock through the sale of livestock, wage employment, borrowing and the relief measures implemented by the provincial authorities. Now in its third year, the drought is taking a heavy toll on the households as their coping mechanisms have almost diminished. Moreover, hosting communities in the irrigated areas are no longer welcoming the migrant wage earners, as their number is exceeding the expected levels and their length of stay has gone beyond the usual period.

Furthermore, some of the irrigated areas have received lower than average rainfall this year and have very limited employment opportunities and water to share. In addition, the increased number of people in the irrigated areas is not only a potential source of conflict but also epidemics.

Households reported changes in food consumption dating back to last year in Balochistan and as far back as two to three years in Sindh. Many households reported dropping off pulses, meat and milk from their diet. Bread and in some cases rice have remained the major dietary components, as they are not often able to afford other foods. In Sindh, households reported consuming chillies, onions and bread. Vegetables could not grow in parts of Thar as the water is too brackish to support even vegetable production.

The decline in consumption of important food items like milk, meat and vegetables is a major nutrition concern for women and children who already have high malnutrition and anemia in these two provinces. About 42 percent of children are malnourished, and 45 percent of pregnant and lactating women are anemic while 10 percent of women are severely anemic. Rural households have higher levels of malnutrition and anemia than urban households.

Households identified the lack of water as the most severe community problem in all the villages visited. This has resulted in increased workload for women and children in parts of Sindh and Balochistan. Many women are now covering longer distances to fetch water as the underground water sources have receded and surface sources have dried up. In many areas, there is increased crowding at the water sources due to fewer and lower available water resources. The provincial authorities in Balochistan and parts of Sindh and Punjab, reported school dropout due to migration and in some cases the lack of food and the need for extra income earning hands in towns. In some areas, especially in Dadu, there is an increased reliance on women’s income earned from sale of crafts. In some households, it is the only income as many men have been unable to find alternative employment.

Although the forecast for the monsoon rains (June-September) in 2001 is favourable, many of the severely affected districts are outside the monsoon range. These districts receive winter rains between December and April. Improvements in pasture, water and food security conditions are not expected until after December and harvest is not expected until April. For districts within the monsoon ranges, improvement in pasture conditions could be expected in July when rains are expected. However, even for these monsoon areas, planting of the Kharif (summer) season is partly over. Table 7 presents the provincial governments’ classification of drought districts in the four provinces of the country.

Table 7. Drought Affected Districts by Province - Government Classification

Severe Moderate Severe SevereModerateSevereModerate
Very Low rainfall areas
Killa Abdulla
Killa Saifulla
Dera Bugti

Monsoon rain areas
Umar Kot
D.I Khan
L. Marwat
Low Dir
D.G. Khan
4 14 6 46104

5.4 Emergency Food Aid Requirements in 2000/01

Except for the Punjab province, Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP governments plan to provide subsidized wheat at half the market price for three months during summer. The provision of subsidized wheat will enable the majority of the population to buy wheat at a lower price but the poorer households have very limited income to buy wheat over a long period especially after the three month subsidy programme ends. Targeted food assistance will be required to the most vulnerable households that have lost livestock, fruit trees and the landless living in the worst affected non-monsoon areas of Balochistan and Sindh where the drought has persisted for the last three to four years for the following reasons

  • Extreme low prices of animals and fewer animals and/or loss of fruit trees have eroded households’ purchasing power;
  • Significant decline in wages and saturated labour markets have further reduced the ability of households to cope with income losses,
  • Lower price of livestock and wage rates mean high wheat price in real terms (even though nominal wheat price have been stable),
  • Even if normal rains were to return during winter, households in the non-monsoon areas would be able to harvest crops only in April 2002. For orchard owners, the recovery will take longer as they have lost trees and will have to grow other crops.
  • For households with livestock, breeding may have to be forgone again due to the continued lack of pasture and water in these areas and therefore improvements in herd size may not occur for another 18 months.

Although 45 districts have been identified as drought affected by Government, the mission recommends assistance to the upland areas of Pishin and Killa Saifulla and Kharan and Chagai in Balochistan and in Sindh, to vulnerable households in Dadu, Badin and Thatta. Even though Tharpakar has been designated as calamity hit area, the Mission takes note of the large presence of NGOs there that are already providing assistance compared to other affected districts. Therefore, it is has not been included as a district to receive food assistance. In addition, WFP will be implementing Food for Work under its Creation of Assets for Rural Women (CARW) activity from July 2001, which will provide food stamps to vulnerable households participating in the programme.

The Mission held discussions with key informants at community level to identify the most vulnerable groups and estimate their numbers. Based on these discussions, the Mission estimates that 5-10 percent of households are the "tail end" poor and another 15-20 percent are poor households. The tail end poor primarily includes the landless that earn their living through provision of labour as livestock herders, and/or in the orchards but now have lost their usual employment due to drying of orchards and/or reduced numbers of livestock holdings. The 15-20 percent households comprise of the following types of households that would not be able to meet their food needs even with the current government programme in place:

  • Smallholders in the upland areas of northern Balochistan with less than half of an acre of fruit trees, have lost more than 60% of fruit trees, have no livestock and no access to migrant work;
  • Pastoralists (nomadic and transhumant) that have lost 50 percent of more of livestock and now have less than 5 sheep/goat, and no access to migrant work
  • Vulnerable Afghan refugee households in non-monsoon ranges with no access to migrant work in the orchards. Refugee households face similar problems as host communities but their problems become even more accentuated as their coping mechanism are more limited compared to the hosting populations.

In Sindh, the provincial government has identified the villages worst affected and estimated the population living in the worst affected villages. The estimated number of targeted population that is being recommended for food assistance is based upon the population figures provided by the Government and the key informants’ estimates of the most vulnerable population.

Table 8 shows the estimated number of people requiring assistance by district and the total amount of food required for the period October 2001 to March 2002. In Pishin and Killa Saifulla, the uplands, which comprise about 70 percent of the population, are the targeted areas. In Sindh, the areas to be targeted are Dadu, Thatta and Badin districts where 20 percent of the population in the villages identified as calamity stricken by government authorities will be targeted.

Table 8 Pakistan: The Number of People in need of Food Assistance and the amount of Wheat, Wheat Soya Blend, Pulses and Oil Required as Food Assistance, October 2001-March 2002

Rural Population
Popn living in the severely affected areas
Percent Popn in need of assistance
Number of Targeted Population
Wheat in MT For 6 months
Wheat Soya Blend In Mt
Pulses In Mt
Oil in Mt
218 265
179 755
179 755
54 000
2 916
209 995
182 278
182 278
55 000
2 970
407 857
385 046
269 532
54 000
2 916
K. Saifulla
184 688
162 258
113 580
23 000
1 242
Vulnerable refugee*
6 000
1 020 805
909 337
745 145
192 000
10 368
1 032
1 032
1 850 585
1 458 739
260 000
52 000
2 808
1 169 576
1 038 930
300 000
60 000
3 240
1 165 889
972 800
227 146
45 000
2 430
4 186 050
3 470 469
787 146
157 000
8 478
Total Target population
5 206 855
4 379 806
1 532 291
349 000
18 846
1 880
1 880

*UNHCR (Balochistan) estimate

5.5 Nutrition Considerations

The Mission recommends targeted food assistance to be provided to 349 000 people (58 000 households) consisting of 300g of wheat flour, 30 g of pulses and 30 g of vitamin A fortified oil per day. This will provide about 1400 Kcalories per day or 67 percent of the daily energy requirements. A partial ration is recommended to prevent total dependence on food aid. Moreover, households will need additional foods, such as vegetables and dairy products, to ensure an adequate diet. Food aid will free up the limited household income to enable purchasing additional foods that are currently missing from the diet and will reduce their debt. It is further recommended that 100 g of fortified Wheat Soya Blend be provided to targeted households with children of less than five years of age and pregnant women to prevent further deterioration of an already existing poor nutritional status of women and children.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Abdur Rashid
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495

Khaled Adly
Regional Director, OMN, WFP
E-Mail: Khaled.Adly@WFP.ORG
Fax: 0020-2-7547614

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