B. Socio-cultural environment
7. Agriculturep> Agriculture is the major source of the provincial economy. The area of cultivated land increased by 6 per cent annually between 1982 and 1992. Important crops in NWFP are maize, tobacco, sugar cane, wheat, vegetables and fruit. The yields are increasing as a result of improvements in inputs such as improved seeds, irrigation and chemical fertilizers. More than half (54 per cent) of the cultivated land is rain-fed with yields that are 25 to 80 per cent lower than those from irrigated areas, depending on the amount of, and intervals between, precipitation. The quality and quantity of water supplied for irrigation is also very important. Major sources of irrigation are canals, tubewells and springs. Any deterioration of the irrigation system would pose a serious threat to the economy of the province.
Although the average farm size is less then 2.5 hectares, and despite the fact that nearly two-third of the farm are tenant-operated mostly on subsistence basis, there are increasing signs of commercial agriculture particularly for fruit, vegetables and poultry.
Prime agriculture land is being steadily lost to non-productive uses such as housing, roads and other infrastructural projects. For example, in 1965, 67.6 per cent of the area of the greater Peshawar was under agriculture. By 1985 that area had been reduced to 55.2 per cent (Khan, A. 1986). Similar trends prevail near other urban centres, towns, big villages in the province. Industrial units and estates are also being established on the productive farmland which will eventually lead to a food deficit. The absence of any land-use planning legislation in the province should be urgently addressed to ensure that proper planning and management of land resources is introduced on a sustainable basis.
The livestock population has increased in all categories, especially in poultry. There has been shift from the use of draft animals to milk and meat producing animals, as a result of the mechanization of agriculture, as well greater demand for milk and meat. A large proportion of cattle, goats and sheep depend on the lower hillsides and plains wasteland for grazing in winter. During the summer, the upper watershed and alpine slopes are used for grazing. Afghan refugees have also contributed to the increase in livestock population.