Land Reforms for Addressing Food Insecurity & Agricultural Stagnation: Options for Pakistan’s Tenth Five-Year Plan 2010-2015
Pakistan’s track record of weak food productivity growth, coincident with high population growth, poses significant food security challenges for the country. Food insecurity in Pakistan is a result of subdued agricultural productivity growth. I argue that this is caused by concentrated land distribution, weak enforcement of land tenure, an outdated system of land titling and registration, and a lack of incentives and penalties to promote efficient land use. I present three policy options for Pakistan’s 10th five-year plan (2011-2015): business as usual, a piecemeal approach as outlined in the five-year plan approach paper, and or an integrated land reforms programme. Based on a comparative analysis of the alternatives, I argue that sustainable gains in Pakistan’s food security cannot be achieved without undertaking integrated land reforms that use a combination of administrative, market-based and legal instruments to promote effective and efficient land use. However, political imperatives warrant that the introduction of reforms should be carefully timed to outweigh the political backlash from influential landlords with political gains in the form of enhanced mass support for the incumbent government and its commitment to reform.