Pakistan Table of Contents
Pakistan's total land area is about 803,940 square kilometers. About 48 million hectares, or 60 percent, is often classified as unusable for forestry or agriculture consists mostly of deserts, mountain slopes, and urban settlements (see Topography and Drainage , ch. 2). Some authorities, however, include part of this area as agricultural land on the basis that it would support some livestock activity even though it is poor rangeland. Thus, estimates of grazing land vary widely--between 10 percent and 70 percent of the total area. A broad interpretation, for example, categorizes almost all of arid Balochistan as rangeland for foraging livestock. Government officials listed only 3 million hectares, largely in the north, as forested in FY 1992. About 21.9 million hectares were cultivated in FY 1992. Around 70 percent of the cropped area was in Punjab, followed by perhaps 20 percent in Sindh, less than 10 percent in the North-West Frontier Province, and only 1 percent in Balochistan.
Since independence, the amount of cultivated land has increased by more than one-third. This expansion is largely the result of improvements in the irrigation system that make water available to additional plots. Substantial amounts of farmland have been lost to urbanization and waterlogging, but losses are more than compensated for by additions of new land. In the early 1990s, more irrigation projects were needed to increase the area of cultivated land.
The scant rainfall over most of the country makes about 80 percent of cropping dependent on irrigation (see Climate , ch. 2). Fewer than 4 million hectares of land, largely in northern Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province, are totally dependent on rainfall. An additional 2 million hectares of land are under nonirrigated cropping, such as plantings on floodplains as the water recedes. Nonirrigated farming generally gives low yields, and although the technology exists to boost production substantially, it is expensive to use and not always readily available.
Data as of April 1994