Macro Bites

Macro Bite # 21

4 min read

At Macro Pakistani, we want to provide you with the good and the bad news on Pakistan’s economy. But we don’t just want to provide you with the headlines. We want to explain the why. We hope, having read our articles in the past, you are better able to understand why the Pakistani rupee is becoming stronger these days. At the same time, having understood issues with electricity in Pakistan, recent news of circular debt increasing at an alarming rate, should make more sense to you. If you read some economic news and have questions about it, feel free to reach out. You can even connect with us on WhatsApp if you like!

Weekly Data Watch

Macro Pakistani

The stock market began to recover from last week; the exchange rate to USD fell below PKR 160 for the first time in six months while gold continues its rally during the pandemic. The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) is the one to watch. Up almost 9% since last year, it is now showing signs of taking a turn for the better with food inflation coming under control. Doesn’t take away from the fact that the poorest 20% of the country (Q1) continue to experience a higher burden of inflation than the rest of the country:

What is the composition of soils in Pakistan? By Umer Vakil
Let’s dive into this series on Pakistan’s agricultural landscape by talking about one of the basics of crop production: soils in Pakistan. Read more

Read Featured Article

Starting with the basics of crop production, let’s dive into soils in Pakistan. Imagine you are a farmer and have recently taken charge of your landholding. Naturally, you would first want to find out the quality of land and then decide what you can grow on it. However, for most farmers in Pakistan, soil tests are a privilege they cannot afford. In fact, only 18% of farmers in Sindh and 28% in Punjab have availed soil tests in the past.

Most farmers rely on traditional knowledge passed down generations to determine what crops to grow. Only the most progressive of farmers properly evaluate characteristics of their soil in Pakistan. Let’s assume you are one of those progressive farmers. You sent a sample to a district lab and received the following results:

Would be quite confusing if you didn’t have a background in agriculture. Read the full article if you want to understand the details but broadly speaking:

  • Texture is important to understand. Loamy soils retain water and nutrients well and are ideal for most commonly grown crops in Pakistan. However, most soils are a combination of sandy, silt, clay and loamy.
  • Soil pH is ideal between 5.8 and 6.5. Most soils in Pakistan have a pH greater than 7.5, requiring interventions to improve uptake of nutrients.
  • Low soil salinity or Electrical Conductivity (EC). However, there is significant build-up of salt (especially in Sindh) due to waterlogging in Pakistan.
  • Soil Organic Matter is the most important factor in plant growth. Healthy amount of organic matter is 1.29% whereas most soils in Pakistan fall below 1%.

If farmers do not get their soil tested, it is likely they are unaware of the exact inputs required to make the most of their resources and increase productivity. Next, Umer will help Macro Pakistani readers understand the connection of this lack of knowledge with the large fertilizer sector in Pakistan.

What Else We’re Reading (Local)

The evolution of the State Bank of Pakistan over three decades – road to Central Bank autonomy and the impact of political pressure in the past (Dawn)
Imposition of support prices for farmers fails to serve any welfare objectives, leads to food inflation and highlights administrative failures of the worst order (Business Recorder)
Karachi’s most boring story identifies the profits made by underground water businesses by selling industrial areas water at twice the official rate (SAMAA)

What Else We’re Reading (International)

Incomplete roads in Karachi – the 3rd largest city in the world and ranked as having the worst public transport system globally – show what happens when a megacity becomes a political orphan (Bloomberg)
Biden on track for election victory after taking lead in Pennsylvania – the Democratic Party has sealed 264 out of the 270 required to win the Presidential elections so far (Financial Times)

Faiz Ahmed

MBA Candidate at Harvard Business School with prior experience at Bain & Company, International Finance Corporation and State Bank of Pakistan. He is also the Founder of Macro Pakistani.

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