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Economic Activity of Punjab Province

Punjab’s economy is mainly agricultural,[1] although industry also makes a substantial contribution. The province is playing a leading role in agricultural production. It contributes about 68% to annual food grain production in the country, and 51 million acres of the province’s land are cultivated, with another 9.05 million acres remaining as cultivable waste in different parts of the province.

The province contributes 60% to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).[2] The Punjab Board of Investment and Trade, with the assistance of relevant government departments, has initiated the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the province. Punjab’s manufacturing sector currently contributes a 15% share to the National GDP and 25.7% to Punjab’s GDP. Punjab accounts for almost 60% of all industrial value addition of Pakistan. There are 11,820 cotton ginning industries, and 6,778 other textile industries. Other manufacturing industries include leather tanning, automation, surgical instruments, sports goods, furniture, paper, and ceramics.

Mining is another significant economic activity of the province. The districts of Chakwal, Jhelum, and Khushab are rich in coal deposits, iron ore, marble and granite, limestone, silica sand and dolomite, and gypsum.

Fresh water fishing[3] contributes 9.7% to Punjab’s economy.

AgricultureLivestock BreedingPoultryFishingBeekeeping/ ApicultureIrrigationMinerals and MiningIndustryHandicrafts

Agriculture; Punjab Province

Punjab is often referred to as the “bread basket” of Pakistan, due to its agricultural contributions. The province has about 29% of the total reported, 57% of the total cultivated, and 69% of the total harvested area[4] of Pakistan. It contributes a major share to the agricultural economy of the country by providing about 83% of cotton, 80% of wheat, 97% of rice, 63% of sugarcane and 51% of maize to total national food production. Among fruits, different varieties of mango account for 66%, citrus for more than 95%, guava for 82%, and dates for 34% of total national production.

Major crops of Punjab include wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton, maize, moong, maash, masoor and other lentils/ pulses, bajra, jowar (sorghum), guar seed, castor seed, sun hemp, groundnut, sesanum, fodder, rapeseed & mustard, millet, tobacco, barley, gram, safflower, canola, linseed, jute, and sugar beet.

Nearly all local vegetables are grown in Punjab. Some notable vegetables are onions, potatoes, tomatoes, okra, tinda, brinjal, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, pumpkin, luffa, long melon, cucumber, arum, beans, radish, turnip, carrots, spinach (other green leafy vegetables), cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potatoes, peas, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and coriander.

Major fruit orchards of Punjab include citrus, mango, banana, apple, pomegranate, guava, dates, apricots, peach, pear, plum, almonds, jaamun, leechee, phalsa, walnut, ber, loquat, mulberry, melons, and watermelons.

Figure 1.10 Rice crop being planted, Punjab

Figure 1.11 A woman picking cotton, Punjab

Figure 1.12 Mustard crop, Punjab

Figure 1.13 Sunflower crop, Punjab

Land Use; Punjab province

Punjab is Pakistan’s second largest province at 205,344 km2 (79,284 sq. mi.) in area and is located at the northwestern edge of the geologic Indian plate in South Asia. The province is a mainly fertile region along river valleys, while sparse deserts are situated near the border with Rajasthan and the Suleiman Range. The province contains the Thar and Cholistan deserts. The Indus River and its many tributaries traverse the province from north to south.

The province contains one of the largest irrigation systems of the world,[1] with about 3,000 irrigated channels present all over the province. Due to the presence of the extensive irrigation system, Punjab is rich with agricultural production.

The Punjab province covers about 29% of the total area of Pakistan, 57% of the total cultivated area and 69% of the total cropped area of Pakistan.[2] It contributes a major share in the agricultural economy of the country by providing about 83% of cotton, 80% of wheat, 97% rice, 63% sugarcane and 51% of all maize to national food production. Among fruits, mangoes account for 66%, citrus more than 95%, guava 82% and dates 34% of the total national production of these fruits.

The following table shows the land use statistics of Punjab province:[3]

Geographical Area 20,534,500 HA Reported Area[4] 17,518,000 HA
Cultivated Area 12,626,000 HA Net Sown 10,518,000 HA
Current Fallow[5] 2,108,000 HA Uncultivated Area 4,892,000 HA
Culturable Waste 1,530,000 HA Forest Area 475,000 HA[6]

Table 1.8 Punjab Land Use Statistics

Livestock Breeding; Punjab province

Livestock production is the second biggest economic activity for the rural population in the country. According to The Economic Survey of Pakistan 2012-13 the Livestock Sector contributed approximately 55.4% of the added agriculture value and about 11.9% to the National GDP during 2012-13; it also helps in converting crop residues and agro-industrial waste as well as by-products into edible products. Livestock breeding also provides industrial raw materials like wool, hides, and resources for the agro-based food industry.

Punjab has 49% of Pakistan’s cattle, 65% of buffaloes, 24% of sheep, and 37% of Pakistan’s goats.[6] It produces 62% of the total milk, 43% of beef, 32% of mutton and 75% of the total poultry of Pakistan.64% of the total population of Pakistan lives in its rural areas.[5] This rural population is mostly involved in agriculture and its allied livestock breeding. The activities of this sub-sector account for 10-25% of the income of small farmers and landless livestock producers.

The following table shows the livestock population of Punjab as of the 2010 Census of Livestock (Latest available) and as reported in Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19:

Cattle 13,204,000 Heads Buffaloes 16,019,000 Heads Sheep 4,942,000 Heads
Goats 17,392,000 Heads Camels 224,000 Heads Horses 101,000 Heads
Mules 73,000 Heads Asses 1,997,000 Heads

Table 1.9 Punjab Livestock Statistics

The native livestock breeds of Punjab are as follows:

  • Buffaloes: the Nili Ravi. They are also called Black Gold of Pakistan
  • Cattle Breeds: Sahiwal Cattle, Cholistani Cattle, Dajal, Dhanni, Rojhan
  • Sheep Breeds: Lohi or Parkanni, Kajli, Thalli, Sipli, Buchi, Cholistani or Khadali, and Salt Range or Latti
  • Goat Breeds: Beetal, Dera Din Pannah, and Nachi
  • Horse Breeds: Baluchi and Thoroughbreds
  • Camel Breeds: Baagri or Booja, Marecha or Mahra Camels, Mountain Camels and Brela camels

Figure 1.14 Nili Ravi Buffalo

Figure 1.15 Lohi or Parkanni Sheep

Poultry Farms; Punjab province

Poultry farming has now become one of the most dynamic of the associated parts of agriculture. The rate of growth of commercial layer and broiler (meat producing) poultry farms is steep to meet the ever increasing demand for proteins through poultry meat and eggs. Commercial poultry production is concentrated around the large urban centers in both provinces of Sindh and Punjab. In the rural areas, most of the farming community keeps a few head of poultry for their eggs and meat.

There are 14,352 Broiler Poultry Farms, 3645 Layer Poultry Farms and 522 Poultry Breeding Farms in the Province[7].

Fishing; Punjab province

The fishing industry plays a significant part in the national economy of Pakistan. In Punjab, freshwater fishing is carried out in the River Indus, its tributaries and small rivers, streams, lakes, and canals. Punjab is the largest producer of fish seed and supplies seeds of major carps to other provinces.[8]

Freshwater-capture fisheries are dominated by the species indigenous to the Indus River and its tributaries. The fish fauna of the Indus system in its northern part is the cold-water type, while the greater middle and southern parts of the system are warm-water zones. Fisheries in rivers and reservoirs account for more than 80% of total inland fish production. The riverine fishery management system is operated mainly by provincial fisheries departments. They enforce regulatory laws that restrict the catch of fish by size and establish closed seasons during which fishing is prohibited.

Six large reservoirs have been created through the construction of dams and barrages across rivers, which provide about 250,000 HA for fish production. In addition, there are several smaller reservoirs. The natural lakes in Punjab cover about 7,000 HA. Some of the lakes, such as Namal lake (480 HA), Uchhali lake (943 HA), Jahlar lake (100 HA), Kallar Kahar (100 HA) Kharal Lake (235 HA) and Khabekki lake (283 HA) are brackish, and are too saline to support aquaculture.

In Punjab, fish farms are located mostly in irrigated areas or where there is abundant rain and soil is alluvial. As a result, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, and Attock districts have larger numbers of farms, and account for approximately three-quarters of the total number of fish farms in Punjab.

Beekeeping/ Apiculture; Punjab province

Honeybee-keeping was recognized as an important economic activity for the rural population of Pakistan during 1976. A Honeybee Research Institute was established in Islamabad under the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council. This Institute was merged into the Institute of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences (INRES) in August 2002 and renamed Honeybee Research Program (HBRP). The Honeybee Research Program was disassociated from INRES on November 1, 2006 and merged into Institute of Plant & Environment Protection (IPEP). Honeybee-keeping now enjoys the privilege of a cottage industry in Pakistan.


There are various types of forests in the province like coniferous forests (evergreen forests, mostly found in Murree, Rawalpindi district), scrub forests (northwestern thorn scrub forests), range lands, irrigated plantations, riverine forests, canal-side plantations, roadside plantations, rail-side plantations, and miscellaneous linear plantations. In addition to the public sector forestry resources, tree cover exists in farmlands both in the form of woodlots and linear avenues along field boundaries and watercourses.

The statistics of designated forest areas of the province are shown in the following table, based on Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19:

Total Forest Area 1,648,612 A Linear Plantations[1] 46,981 km
Compact Forests (Govt. of Punjab, GoP) 528,752 A Un-classed forests[2] 280,860 A
Reserved Forests[3] Under GoP 796,132 A Resumed Land[4] 39,122 HA
Other Forests 3,549 A Chos Forests[5] (Area under GoP 197 A

Table 1.3 Punjab Forests (Punjab Development Statistics)

[1] Tree plantations along roads, canals, and railway lines

[2] Government Forests that are neither protected nor reserved.

[3] Area controlled by Forest Department

[4] Land taken over by government under various Reforms or Martial Law Regulations

[5] Land taken up for soil & water conservation.

According to the Punjab Forest Department,[1] various types of forests and their area in Punjab province are as follows:

Irrigated Plantations 1,71,900 HA Riverine Forests 71,104 HA
Scrub Forests 273,704 HA Coniferous 45,897 HA
Coniferous/ Scrub Forest 12,425 HA Range Lands 82,281 HA
Deserts 15,470 HA Miscellaneous 5 HA

Table 1.4 Punjab Forests (Types; Punjab Forest Department)

[1] Legal classification and Forest Types; Punjab Forest Department, 2013; Latest available

Some of the important irrigated forests of the province are Changa Manga (Lahore district), Gatwala Irrigated Plantation (Faisalabad district) and Chichawatni Plantation (Sahiwal district).

Riverine forests are being depleted due to shortage of water, since these are mainly dependent on inundation from rivers. Important ones are located in the Jhelum District along Jhelum River. The coniferous forests and scrub forests are mainly located in the Rawalpindi Division, mostly in the Murree region.

Some of the forests of Punjab province include Jhoke Riverine Forest, Bela Qila Jowar Singh, Dungi Reserved forest, Rakh Baral Reserved Forest, Pakhowal Reserved Forest, Bahawalpur Plantation, Kawah Gar Reserved Forests, Chichawatni Reserved Forest, Kala Chitta Reserve Forest, Mitha Tiwana Reserved Forest, and Warcha Reserved Forest.

Minerals and Mining; Punjab province

Punjab is a mineral rich province, with extensive mineral deposits of coal, gas, oil, rock salt (with the second largest salt mine in the world), dolomite, gypsum, and silica sand. The Punjab Mineral Development Corporation is operating over a hundred economically viable projects.

Manufacturing in the province includes machine products, cement, plastics, and various other goods.

The following minerals are found in the province:

  • Iron ore: Kalabagh, Mianwali District
  • Coal: Salt Range and Makerwal
  • Gypsum: Dadukhel, Mianwali District, Rakhimoonh, Khewra and Sufaid Koh-Rodi Area, and Suleiman range, D G Khan Area
  • Salt: Salt Range, Rock salt at Khewra, Warcha, Kalabagh, Bahadurkhel, Jatta, Karak, Chakwal, and Khushab
  • Limestone: Salt Range, Potowar Plateau, Margalla Hills and Zindipir, Attock District
  • Aluminum: Khushab District
  • Celestine: Daudkhel, western Salt Range
  • Natural Oil: Attock, Potowar Plateau, Jhelum, Rawalpindi
  • Natural gas: Uch, near Multan, and Adhi Rawalpindi
  • Marble: Dalbandin Hills, Attock District

Other minerals are also being mined in the province, and these include argillaceous clay, bauxite, bentonite, gypsum, silica sand, millstone, and laterite.

Irrigation; Punjab province

Punjab, with its arid and semi-arid climate and fertile alluvial lands, depends heavily upon canal irrigation, wells, and tube wells for agricultural purposes. Punjab has the distinction of having the largest contiguous gravity flow irrigation network in the world. The irrigation system of Punjab consists of about 37,311 km length of canals, which command an area of about 21 million acres.[1] The 24 canal systems, which have a total capacity of 110,000 cusecs, draw their allocated discharges from 14 barrages. The barrages also control the diversion of supplies to the inter-river link canals which transfer the water of the western rivers to the eastern rivers, to cater to the irrigation systems off-taking from these rivers. The water from the rivers is diverted to main canals/ link canals from barrages and head regulators and distributed to farmer’s fields through 58,000 outlets.

The major diversion sites of canals in Punjab are as follows:

River Indus Kalabagh, Chashma, and Taunsa headworks
River Jhelum Rasool headworks
River Chenab Marala, Khanki, Qadirabad, Trimmu, and Panjnand headworks
River Ravi Balloki and Sidhnai headworks
River Sutlej Sulemanki and Islam headworks

Table 1.16 Punjab Headworks and Rivers

Small dams include Khasala, Dhok Sandy Mar, Jawa, Misriot Dam, Nirali Dam, Dongi Dam, Shahpur Dam, Jalwal Dam, Shakardara Dam, Tilkana Dam, Basal Dam, Mirwal Dam, Kibla Mandi Dam, Ratti Kasi Dam, Channi Bor Dam, Kanjoor Dam, Thatti Sydian Dam, Jabbi Dam, and Rawal Dam.

The following table shows the mode of irrigation and area irrigated by each mode for the Punjab province as per Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19:

Total Area Sown 16,409,000 HA Irrigated Area 14,405,000 HA
Canal Irrigated 3,248,000 HA Well Irrigated 327,000 HA
Tube Well Irrigated 2,649,000 HA Canal Wells 263,000 HA
Canal Tube Wells 7,852,000 HA Others 66,000 HA
Spate Irrigation[2] 84,000[3] HA

Table 1.17 Punjab Irrigation Statistics

Figure 1.34 Irrigation System Punjab

Industry and Manufacturing; Punjab Ptovince

The Industry and Mineral Development Department of Punjab oversees the growth of industry and minerals in Punjab. According to Punjab Development Statistics 2013-14, there are 10,255 registered factories in the province. Lahore and Gujranwala have the largest concentration of small light engineering units. The district of Sialkot excels in sports goods, surgical instruments, and cutlery goods. The following table shows the number of industrial units in each district[9]:

District No. of Units District No. of Units
Attock 52 Bahawalnagar 271
Bahawalpur 252 Bhakkar District 14
Chakwal 32 Dera Ghazi Khan 201
Faisalabad 1,644 Gujranwala 2,986
Gujrat 703 Hafizabad 224
Jhang 154 Jhelum 43
Kasur 796 Khanewal 263
Khushab 42 Lahore 3,007
Layyah 25 Lodhran 94
Mandi Bahauddin 126 Mianwali 35
Multan 589 Muzaffargarh 162
Nankana Sahib 151 Narowal 122
Okara 395 Pakpattan 201
Rahim Yar Khan 290 Rajanpur 102
Rawalpindi 124 Sahiwal 335
Sargodha 426 Sheikhupura 748
Sialkot 2,670 TobaTek Singh 173
Vehari 194 Chiniot 92
  Total 17,738

Table 1.10 Punjab Industries

The major industries of the province include vegetable ghee/oil, sugar, beverages, cigarettes, cotton textile, woolen textile, leather tanning, footwear, paper & paper board, chemicals, fertilizers, cement, re-rolled steel industries, bicycle industry, diesel engines, electric fans, electric motors, electronic transformers, tractors, dairy products, sports goods, surgical instruments, wood products, refined petroleum products, rubber products, non-metallic mineral products, electrical lighting and other equipment, fabricated metal products, watches and clocks, and motor vehicles. There are 27 industrial estates in the province.

The Punjab Small Industries Corporation oversees the Small Enterprises in Punjab. This corporation has over 20 estates all over Punjab for the development of small/cottage industry and handicrafts. SME[10] Clusters in Punjab are specialized in production from low-tech cutlery products to hi-tech auto parts, from raw vegetable and fruits to value-added food stuff and juices, from handloom textile products to modern textiles, from hand stitched footballs and wooden sports goods to mechanized balls and composite material sports goods, from traditional carved furniture to modern aesthetic design furniture and many more. Different regions specialize in the production of different goods, spread geographically from Lahore to Sialkot, Faisalabad to Sargodha, and Multan to Rahim Yar Khan.

The main industrial clusters of Punjab are Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Multan, and Faisalabad, among others.

Figure 1.16 Brick-making in Pakistan

Handicrafts; Punjab Province

In various parts of Punjab, different types of handicrafts are produced. Examples include pottery, embroidery work (every district specializes in a different type of embroidery work), woodwork, articles made from camel-skin, stonework (articles made with marble and other stones), jewelry (various kinds of beads or gold, silver and precious or semi-precious stones), shoes, printed-works on textile (screen and block printing on cloth), bangles, hand-knotted carpets, leather goods, articles made with brass, and inlay work on wooden furniture.

Figure 1.17 Handcrafted room Partition from Chiniot

Figure 1.18 Hand Crafted, cane curtain called ‘chik’ from Bahawalpur

Figure 1.19 Lassi-making (yoghurt drink), using traditional methods



[1] Planning and Development Department, official website. Retrieved on April 2011.

[2] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[3] List of Reporting Bank Branches 2019 by State Bank of Pakistan.

[4] Power Generation Projects in Pakistan by Govt. of Punjab Energy Department.

[5] Program Monitoring and Implementation Unit, Irrigation Departmen. Official Webpage. Retrieved in March 2017

[6] Spate irrigation is the system of irrigation in which flood waters are diverted from the river beds towards the barani (rain-fed) areas

[7] The areas are mostly located in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts.

[8] Includes Private, Federal, and Schools owned by PAF and other organizations

[9] Includes Private, Federal, and Schools owned by PAF and other organizations

[10] For both men and women.

[11] Public/Private

[12] Public/Private

[13] Includes Private Sector also

[14] Pakistan Education Statistics 2016-17; latest available

[1] Official Website of Small Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA): Punjab Profile

[2] Punjab Board of Investment & Trade, official web portal (retrieved in March 2017)

[3] Punjab Economic Report: Towards a Medium Term Development Strategy. 2005

[4] Official Web Portal of Punjab Agriculture Department. Retrieved March 2017.

[5] Pakistan Population Demographics 2017 Census

[6] Official web portal for livestock sector Punjab, retrieved July 2017 http://www.pbit.gop.pk/livestock

[7] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[8] Assessment of Freshwater Fish Seed Resources for Sustainable Aquaculture. Melba G. Bondad-Reantaso, Food, and Agriculture Organization

[9] Pre-Investment Study 2012, (latest available) of each District

[10] Small Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA), official website. Retrieved on April 24, 2011.