Introduction: In Pakistan, the flourishing real estate sector has cast a long and ominous shadow over the agriculture sector, posing significant threats to the nation's food security and economic stability. This blog delves into the damages inflicted by the rapid expansion of real estate on agriculture, supported by available statistical data and credible sources.
- Conversion of Agricultural Land: The unchecked growth of the real estate sector has led to the conversion of vast tracts of agricultural land for residential and commercial purposes. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, between 2002 and 2017, Pakistan lost approximately 6,650 square kilometers of agricultural land, equivalent to nearly 1% of its total agricultural area . This loss of fertile land reduces the country's capacity to produce essential food crops, leading to increased dependence on imports.
- Fragmentation and Land Fragmentation: The encroachment of real estate into agricultural areas has resulted in land fragmentation, further exacerbating the damages to the agriculture sector. The United Nations reports that Pakistan's urban population is expected to reach 50% by 2030 . As urbanization spreads, agricultural land becomes fragmented, making it difficult for farmers to sustain large-scale farming operations.
- Water Stress and Unsustainable Practices: Real estate development often places immense strain on water resources, exacerbating the water stress faced by the agriculture sector. The Pakistan Water Council highlights that the country's per capita water availability has drastically declined from 5,260 cubic meters per year in 1951 to a mere 908 cubic meters in recent times . The diversion of water for real estate projects further limits water availability for agricultural irrigation, affecting crop productivity and exacerbating food insecurity.
- Economic Implications: The decline of agriculture due to real estate encroachment has grave economic implications. The State Bank of Pakistan reports that the agriculture sector's contribution to the country's GDP has steadily declined from 25% in the 1990s to around 20% in recent years . This decrease not only weakens the overall economy but also threatens the livelihoods of millions of people dependent on agriculture for their sustenance.
Conclusion: The relentless expansion of the real estate sector in Pakistan has dealt a severe blow to the agriculture sector, endangering the nation's food security and economic well-being. Urgent measures are needed to protect agricultural land from encroachment and ensure sustainable water management practices. Government policies should prioritize the preservation of fertile agricultural land, encourage efficient land use planning, and promote responsible urbanization. By safeguarding the agriculture sector, Pakistan can reclaim its self-sufficiency in food production, safeguard the livelihoods of rural communities, and foster a more balanced and sustainable economy.
 Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. (2019). Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey 2018-19. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.gov.pk/content/pakistan-social-and-living-standards-measurement-survey-pslm
 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. (2018). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision (ST/ESA/SER.A/420). Retrieved from https://population.un.org/wup/
 Pakistan Water Council. (n.d.). Water Scarcity Situation in Pakistan. Retrieved from http://pakistanwatercouncil.com/index.php/water-scarcity-situation-in-pakistan/
 State Bank of Pakistan. (2020). Annual Report 2019-20. Retrieved from https://www.sbp.org.pk/reports/annual/arFY20/index.htm