pakistanPakistan is located at the strategically important crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia and Western Asia regions. It has a 650 miles coastline. The country is divided into five provinces and some federally administered areas. The provinces are divided into devolved districts, tehsils and union councils administered by the local government. Its population is about 187 million (2010).

Pakistan’s climate varies from tropical to temperate, with arid conditions in the coastal south. The country has coastal, desert, plain and mountainous regions. There is a monsoon season with heavy rainfall. Temperatures are quite high during the summer.



Agriculture sector is of great importance even though yields have been steadily declining. Livestock sector’s contribution to the GDP is 11 percent, which is higher than that of crops. Pakistan is the fourth largest milk producing country in the world. Fisheries and fishery industry are also important for the national economy. Food processing industries utilize most of the agricultural output. Majority of the farmers are subsistence, but large farms also exist. The main crops are wheat, rice, maize, sugarcane and cotton; cotton and rice are main exports. Key fruits include citrus (kinnu), mango, apricot, apple and dates.

Pakistan has an impressive irrigation system comprising rivers, canals and groundwater. Its infrastructure, however, lacks proper maintenance. Land degradation due to salinity and water logging is a persistent problem. Rain-fed agriculture needs proper technology. Land tenure issues remain complex. The private sector has active business of seed, pesticides and fertilizers.

Key Statistics and Indicators




Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)











Fertilizer consumption (Kg per hectare of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)









GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)











Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)





Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population*

Rural population (% of total population)*

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of  total economically active population in agriculture)*

















Sources: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO


History of Extension and the Enabling/Disabling environment

During 1960s and 1970s, Pakistan’s extension services played a distinct role along with research and other stakeholders in bringing about the Green Revolution. During 1970’s the country’s extension services significantly benefitted from major projects funded by the World Bank when the Training & Visit system of extension was being promoted.

Although agricultural extension in Pakistan has been public from the start, yet it has never been a federal government’s responsibility. Until the start of devolution process in 2001, the main agricultural extension department, headed by a Director-General, was located at provincial level in all five provinces. Although the provincial extension offices have not been disbanded, the extension responsibilities have been shifted to district level administration. Now each district has an extension directorate, which is a part of provincial department of agriculture. Local Government is now actively involved in agricultural activities including extension.

According to a recent survey conducted by FAO, Pakistan’s investment in agricultural extension during the year 2009 was US$ 86,923,170, and the extension agent to active rural population ratio was 1: 6,881. Agricultural extension services in Pakistan, which were already criticized for their less than satisfactory performance, have suffered under devolution. The devolution-related problems for agricultural extension in Pakistan include confusion about new role of extension, abundance of bureaucratic paperwork, burden of non-extension tasks, isolation from provincial extension office, and enhanced political interference. In addition, several administrative levels simply create more red tape delaying decision making. The role of provincial vis-à-vis district extension offices needs to be re-defined as the provincial offices feel disconnected from the field.

Extension services in Pakistan remain traditional, using old extension methods and top-down and technology-driven approaches. Linkages with research and agricultural academic institutions are minimal at best. There is hardly any female field extension staff. The organization suffers from a lack of in-service training, mobility means, scant career development opportunities, and grossly inadequate operational funds. Gender-sensitivity is non-existent in terms of extension access by rural women.

In spite of a plethora of research stations, contacts between research and extension remain scant. The private sector has been very active for years in the sale of various farm inputs like seed, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, farm machinery, etc. However, sometimes, the prices are too high for small farmers. Pakistan has both rain-fed and irrigated areas. Improved technology for rain-fed areas is not adequate. It is not easy for small farmers to get credit in some parts of the country due to collateral requirements. Although the majority of farmers are subsistence, with small holdings, there is sizeable number of commercial farmers who run their large farms like business.

Huge floods of 2010 and 2011 devastated the rural life by killing people and livestock, and by destroying villages and standing crops on thousands of acres, and rehabilitation has not yet been done fully in several areas. In recent years, there have been persistent security concerns in the northern part of the country and it is not safe to do extension fieldwork with relaxed mind in certain areas. Frequent power shutdowns and sometimes disruptions in the transport system present problems in working at offices and in undertaking inter-province travel.

Several UN agencies, especially FAO, have been very active in Pakistan with several projects in agricultural and rural development. Presently, FAO is executing a European funded Food Facility Project. IFAD has recently had major project on community development and rural poverty. Bilateral donors such as SIDA, DANIDA, SDC, etc. are also active. The main areas of projects are food security, livestock, dairy, and rural poverty.

From agricultural extension point of view, however, the World Bank, FAO and USAID participated in a Round Table on Agriculture and Water held in Islamabad in March 2011. The purpose of the event was to discuss the implementation of the latest national development plan. The meeting was organized by Pakistan’s Planning Commission in collaboration with the World Bank and the Embassy of The Netherland. One of the products of donors’ participation was a discussion paper on transforming agricultural research and extension in Pakistan, jointly prepared by the World Bank and FAO.

Extension Providers

Major Institutions Providing Extension/Advisory Services

Public Institutions

Provincial Directorates General of Extension

In spite of devolution, the Directorate-General of Agriculture and Applied Research still exists. This office carries out various duties including advice on agriculture sector to the provincial government, implementation of provincial projects and maintenance of links with the district governments for agricultural extension matters. The responsibility for livestock extension lies with the Veterinary Officers and Veterinary Assistants of the provincial Livestock and Dairy Department. A Directorate-General for On-Farm Irrigation exists at provincial level. But like the Directorate-General of Extension, it also provides policy advice to the provincial government.

District level extension organization

Under the District Coordination Officer are a number of Executive District Officers (EDO), and one of them is for agriculture, called Executive District Officer for Agriculture (EDOA). The EDOA coordinates agricultural activities with other departments at district level. Under the EDOA is a District Officer for Agriculture (DOA) who is also based at district level, and is responsible for overall agricultural extension work in the particular district. At district level, the Livestock and Dairy Department has more or less the same structure as the Department of Agriculture, staffed by District Livestock Officers, Veterinary Officers and Veterinary Assistants. The Irrigation and On-farm Water Management Directorate provides extension advice on relevant matters mainly through Water Users Associations. Within the districts, extension offices are located at the following lower layers of bureaucracy:

Tehsil level extension offices
Under the DOA are many Deputy District Officers for Agriculture (DDOA), based at tehsil level. Their number corresponds with the number of tehsils in the particular district. The DDOAs handle agricultural extension activities in their respective tehsils.

Markaz level extension offices
Under the DDOA, there are many Agriculture Officers (AOs) based at markaz level. These numbers correspond with the number of markaz in the particular tehsil. The AOs are responsible for carrying out agricultural extension responsibilities in their respective markaz.

Union Council level extension offices
Under each AO are several Field Assistants (FA) based at Union Council level. Their number corresponds with the number of Union Councils in the particular markaz. The FAs are frontline agricultural extension workers. Extension advice is provided in the areas of crops, fruit, vegetables, livestock, fisheries, and marketing. Under each FA are two Beldars who are fieldworkers. They are more laborers than technical persons, and help the FA in daily agricultural activities.

Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC)

Although PARC is essentially apex agricultural research body, it has a social sciences wing, which is engaged in policy level activities in marketing and extension. Statutory functions of PARC are to aid, promote and coordinate agricultural research, expedite utilization of research results, establish research facilities, train high-level scientific human resources, generate, acquire and disseminate agricultural information, and establish a research library. The PARC sets national agricultural research agenda, maintains national and international coordination and conducts in-house strategic research on national issues. Pakistan’s national agricultural research system (NARS) consists of 20 federal research establishments for basic and applied research, 10 provincial research institutes for applied research, 14 agricultural universities and colleges for basic research, and private agro-industry research organizations for applied research on pesticides, fertilizers, seed and machinery, and it is PARC which provides strategic thinking and orientation to the entire NARS.

Public universities

Just like agricultural research, Pakistan has a vast network of universities. Main agricultural universities are the following:

All these universities have agricultural extension departments which offer degrees up to Doctorate. University of Agriculture at Faisalabad is the oldest and largest institution in Pakistan among agricultural academic institutions. Besides a Directorate of Extension, the university has six faculties covering disciplines of agriculture, agricultural economics and rural sociology, agricultural engineering and technology, animal husbandry, veterinary science, and basic sciences.

Table 1: Number of Key Agricultural Extension Staff in Provinces of Pakistan as in 2011


Number of Agriculture Officers

Number of Field Assistants













Gilgit and Baltistan






Source: PowerPoint presentation made by the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (March, 2011) in the Roundtable Discussion on Agriculture and Water, organized by the Planning Commission, USAID, The Embassy of Netherland and the World Bank

Table 2: Number of Key Livestock Extension Staff in Various Provinces of Pakistan as in 2008


Number of Veterinary Officers

Number of Veterinary Assistants













Gilgit and Baltistan






Source:  Afzal, M. (2008). Overview of Agricultural Research and Extension in Pakistan. Pakistan Agricultural Research Council

Non-Public Institutions

Private sector

There are many private companies actively engaged in extension advisory work. Some of them are as follows:

These companies work in most cases with only those farmers who have signed contracts with them or have informally agreed to follow their instructions in crop production. They do not charge any fee to their farmers. Motives behind extension support by the private companies are either to obtain good quality raw materials from growers, and/or to enhance the sale of companies’ products. Of course, farmers also benefit in many ways such as gaining technical knowledge and skills and enjoying satisfaction of a guaranteed market for their harvest at reasonable prices.  The extension support by private companies excludes those farmers who do not join their programs.

Subjects of extension advice include plant protection, plant nutrition, introduction of new and improved varieties, entire crop production cycle (sugarcane covered by sugar mills; tobacco covered by national and multi-national tobacco companies; maize by seed and corn-processing companies; oil seed by edible oil processing companies and Oil Seed Development Board; and milk by national and multi-national companies), and credit (covered by micro-finance institutions and commercial banks).

The companies maintain well-equipped, well-educated, experienced and mobile staff in the field, and are apparently popular among farmers. Their extension methods include demonstrations, field days, and visits to individual farmers, farmers’ group meetings, training of farmers, tours to model farms, phone calls, and published materials. The staff usually works through progressive farmers who are in most cases large landholders.

Non-governmental organizations

Pakistan has hundreds of NGOs, both national and international. A comprehensive list of the NGOs may be seen on the website A few examples of NGOs in Pakistan are as follows:

Farmers-based organizations and cooperatives

There are quite a number of farmers’ or famers-based associations. Some examples are:

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Pakistan. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.


Training Options for Extension Professionals

Pre-service education of would-be extension professionals takes place at the agricultural universities located at Faisalabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, and Tandojam (mentioned in a previous section) which offer academic degrees in a number of agricultural disciplines including extension. These universities also offer short training courses on regular basis.

For the purpose of in-service training, the following institutes are used by agricultural staff:

  • In-service Agricultural Training Institute, Sargodha (Tel: 451-714 177)
  • Barani Agricultural Training Institute, Dahgal, Rawalpindi (Tel: 51-557 2116)
  • In-service Agricultural Training Institute, Rahim Yar Khan (Tel: 731-9230137)
  • Pak-German Institute of Co-operative Agriculture, Multan (Tel: 61-377 339)
  • Extension Services Management Academy (ESMA), Garhi Dopatta, Azad Jammu & Kashmir (Tel: 588-103 2596); 


Info-mediaries and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

Pakistan has a National Information and Communication Technology Strategy developed by the Ministry of Education It has National ICT R&D Fund established in 2007. The ICT expenditure (% of GDP) in Pakistan was reported at 4.37 in 2008. Recently, the ICT sector has been deregulated by the government. In spite of all this, the use of ITC in support of extension is quite limited. Several cellular phone companies launched Interactive Voice Response based agricultural services in the Punjab Province but were discouraged due to lack of revenue. While urban areas have been increasingly adopting modern ICT, most rural areas are still behind due to low literacy and poor infrastructure not to mention the absence of electricity and frequent lengthy power outages. In cities and in some villages especially those close to major cities, the use of the Internet is becoming common as indicated by the presence of Internet cafes. The cellular phone though is prevalent in both urban and rural areas. There are hundreds of “call centers” at private shops in mostly cities but some located in rural areas are also available to the public for making international telephone calls.

According to the World Bank, in 2010, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Pakistan was 57.13. The number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country during the same year was 16.78.

The Punjab province has a Directorate of Agriculture Information, which has established a “help line” for farmers. However, its use has been very limited as most farmers are unaware of this facility. The country has been having radio and television programs for farmers for several decades.  An NGO, Pakistan Social Association (PSA), has started a project under the title of E-Village with the objective of reaching rural population through the Internet. Details of the project may be seen at  


Resources and References

Ahmed, I., Muhammad Idrees, Naeem Shah and Syed Waqar Shah. (2009). Performance digest of agriculture extension services rendered by public sector and NGOs in District Kohat of NWFP, Pakistan. J. Agric. Vol. 25 (4), 2009; Pp. 617-621

Beintema, N. M. Waqar Malik, Muhammad Sharif, Gewrt-Jan Stads and Usman Mustafa. (December 2007). Agricultural Research and Development in Pakistan: Policy, Investments and Institutional Profile; ASTI Country Report. International Food Policy Research Institute and Pakistan Agricultural Research Council

FAO (2010). Pakistan country sheet on global survey of agricultural research and extension. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 

Government of Pakistan (December 31, 2009). Final Report of the Working Group on Agriculture and Food Security for the 10th Five Year People’s Plan 2010-2015. Food and Agriculture Section, Planning Commission, Islamabad,

Iqbal, M.Z., Tanvir Ali, Munir Ahmad and Saif-ur-Rahman Saif Abbasi. (2007). Evaluation of in-service agricultural training institutes in Punjab, Pakistan. Pak. J. Agric. Sci. Vol. 44 (3), 2007; Pp 518-524

Luqman, M., Kafeel Ahmed, Muhammad Yasin Ashraf and Zafar Iqbal Khan. 2007. Effectiveness of decentralized agricultural extension system (a case study of Pakistan). African Crop Science Conference Proceedings; Vol. 8; Pp 1465-1472

Qamar, M. K. (2011). Introducing Demand-Driven Extension Approach in a Traditional Region: A Case Study from Pakistan. FAO Rome; Also on

Qamar, M. K. (2011). Transforming Agricultural Research and Extension in Pakistan in Response to Global Changes (Discussion Paper prepared for FAO and the World Bank; in the process of being published)

Riaz, M. (2010). The role of the private sector in agricultural extension in Pakistan. Rural Development News, 1/2010; Pp 15-22

Siraj, M. (2012). A Model for ICT-based Services for Agriculture Extension in Pakistan. CABI International;

USAID (November 2008). Pakistan’s Food and Agriculture Systems


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