Book: Agriculture and the rural economy in Pakistan: Issues, outlooks, and policy priorities


by Evgeniya Anisimova | January 18, 2017

spielman-pakistan-bookHistorically, agriculture has been crucial to Pakistan’s economic growth and development and remains so even today. The sector employs almost half of the country’s labor force, supplies key inputs to the country’s manufacturing sector, generates a significant share of export earnings, and nourishes a rapidly growing population. Further, beyond agriculture is the wider rural economy, including nonfarm economic activities such as small enterprises, transport services, village retail shops, local schools, and clinics, all of which account for an estimated 40 to 57 percent of total rural household income.

Given the importance of these rural activities, the slow growth of agriculture in recent years—averaging just 2.8 percent during the period 2010–2014—should be a source of concern for Pakistan. Can the country’s agricultural sector and rural economy once again play a significant role in growth and development? Can it contribute to poverty reduction?

Agriculture and the Rural Economy in Pakistan: Issues, Outlooks, and Policy Priorities seeks to answer these questions by examining the performance of both agriculture and the rural economy. The authors identify several measures that can promote agricultural productivity growth as well as wider economic and social development. These include increasing the efficiency of water use in the Indus river basin irrigation system, especially in the face of climate change; reforming policies and regulations that govern markets for agricultural inputs and commodities; and improving the provision of rural public services for health, education, women’s empowerment, and community development. The analyses and conclusions in Agriculture and the Rural Economy in Pakistan will be of use to policy makers, development specialists, and others concerned with Pakistan’s development.

"The book Agriculture and the Rural Economy in Pakistan: Issues, Outlooks, and Policy Priorities successfully traces the historical evolution of public policy on food security, agriculture, and the rural economy in Pakistan and provides a detailed analysis of the factors underlying the multidimensional nature of the current situation. The research-based insights and recommendations contained in this book are invaluable for researchers and policy makers in Pakistan. This book is a fine example of the International Food Policy Research Institute's mission to support countries with relevant policy research for effective decision making."—Sartaj Aziz, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Pakistan's Indus River basin is an extraordinary agricultural resource. This book documents how, when used properly with large investments and appropriate policies, agriculture brought rapid overall growth and poverty reduction. The wide-ranging, perceptive, quantitative, and qualitative analysis of this book has detailed, essential lessons, not only for Pakistan itself, but for all the stalled agricultural economies of much of Africa and select countries in Asia as well."—John W. Mellor, Cornell University


Spielman, David J., ed.; Malik, Sohail Jehangir, ed.; Dorosh, Paul A., ed.; and Ahmad, Nuzhat, ed. 2016. Agriculture and the rural economy in Pakistan: Issues, outlooks, and policy priorities. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press on behalf of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

To order the book, visit

Synopsis of the book is available here

View recording of the book launch event on January 25, 2017 at IFPRI

Related IFPRI blog How to revitalize Pakistan's agricultural sector and rural economy

This work was undertaken as part of and with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets.