Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Unravelling Water Use Efficiency in Sugarcane and Cotton Production in Pakistan (Vol. 59 No.2-2020)

The present Policy Viewpoint explores water use efficiency between the two competing cash crops of the Kharif season, sugarcane and cotton. It is concluded that the sugarcane crop consumes about 3.5 times more water than the cotton crop. Moreover, one litre of water used in cotton production generates about 4 times higher monetary benefit at both the farm gate and at the processing stage. Sugarcane alone consumes about 42 percent of the total annual household water demand of Pakistan.

Contribution of Sugarcane

Pakistan ranks 5th among the world’s sugarcane producing countries by cultivating it on 1.3 million hectares and with a yield of about 83.3 million tons, giving an average of 62 tons/ha during 2018-19. Most of the sugarcane cultivated area is in the Punjab province (64 percent), followed by Sindh (25 percent), and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) (11 percent). Sugarcane accounts for 2.9 percent in agricultural value addition and 0.5 percent in the overall GDP (GoP, 2019a). In Pakistan, around 980,000 farmers are engaged in the cultivation of sugarcane and around 5 million employees are engaged directly or indirectly in the sugar business (Malik, 2018). Sugarcane is a very water- guzzling crop, and is grown under irrigated conditions when water is available either through surface canal or underground water.


Uzma Zia