Forest ManagementGeneral Silviculture

Nurseries and Propagules in Private/Community Sectors of Pakistan

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There are no estimated 13,474 private community nurseries in Pakistan. Most of these nurseries deal in horticultural plants for private and public sector users, few nurseries allocate a small portion of the nursery for the production of forest N Balochistan plants. This is because the demand for Sindh forest plants is low and unpredictable. Also, there is a stark difference among the nurseries in size and the number of plants they produce. Nurseries in Punjab and Sindh are smaller in size and scattered while in GB and Balochistan, larger size centralized nurseries are maintained.

The cost of land could be a factor because the cost of land in Punjab is quite high, and it is expensive to rent spaces for nurseries. Nursery growers therefore look for smaller pieces of land that are not suitable for other uses and are available at a low cost, for example, nurseries raised by roadsides along the bridges. Also, private buyers in Punjab and Sindh are many and mostly scattered in urban areas in the cities where costs are high for being located closer to the buyers. Therefore, nurseries are smaller in size.

The Forest Department of KP and GB support community-based nurseries with buy-back agreements for a certain number of plants (e.g., a maximum of 25,000 plants per nursery in the case of KP). With two consecutive large-scale afforestation projects (BTAP and TBTAP), this trend has gained momentum (especially in the case of women nursery farmers). It is not certain if the nursery farmers will continue this activity as a micro-business if the government stops buying from these nurseries.

Province-wise assessment of private/community nurseries is given in the following sections.

Nurseries and Propagules in Private/Community Sectors of Pakistan


The total estimated number of private nurseries in Punjab is 8,000 to 10,000. There is a large difference in the size of these nurseries ranging between 0.5 Acres to 50 Acres in different arms of the province. Most of these nurseries deal in horticultural and landscape plants/trees. Most of the plants are sold to individual buyers, housing schemes / private organizations, and the provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, and to some extent KP. Very little number is purchased by the Forest department in Punjab.

The nurseries in Punjab have sufficient access to seeds for raising nurseries. The seeds are either bought from the authorized seed sellers or collected by the nursery owners themselves, largely from plus trees to ensure better quality. Mostly the seeds used for nurseries are of high quality. A few nursery owners were not sure about the quality of the seeds. Half of the nursery owners reported facing challenges accessing appropriate equipment and tools for the nursery established.

They believe that the availability of the latest machinery and equipment will help grow and produce a larger number of seedlings. In addition, around 76% of the nursery owners reported easy availability of skilled labor that can work effectively whereas 24% find their availability a problem. However, all of them reported that their human resources needed proper training and equipment to produce quality of seeds and propagules. Demand for propagules keeps fluctuating. 47% of nursery owners said that demand for nursery plants is low whereas 42% reported high demand. The remaining 11% considered it as per their expectation. 62%

nurseries sell large Portions of plants to the consumers directly.38% of nurseries sell their seeds and seedlings to the sellers. Demand for tree seedlings was several under-construction housing schemes. Most of the nurseries collaborate for the production and sale of nursery plants. Availability of funds appears as the biggest and most common problem faced by nursery owners in Punjab. Other problems include scarcity of water, lack of and expensive machinery (tiller machines, sprayers).


Large numbers of private nurseries are operational in different areas of Sindh. A crude estimate is 3500 nurseries of which 1000 nurseries are in Karachi. These nurseries sell both horticultural and forest plants. Horticultural plants usually make up a larger segment of the nursery planting stock. The buyers include forest, department, private buyers (individuals and organizations) as well buyers from the province of Balochistan (public and private) in the form of feeder or distributor nurseries.

These nurseries mostly rely on the seeds collected by themselves within neighbourhood of nurseries. Nearly 73% nursery owners collected seeds from plus trees. Nearly 50% nurseries buy the seeds from random seed stores (including 27% who exclusively rely on bought seeds). The quality of seeds is reported as superior by 50% of the nurseries whereas 25% nurseries have no knowledge about the quality of seeds they utilize.

Nearly half of the nursery farmers considered lack of equipment and machinery as a hurdle for efficient production of seeds and seedlings. Around 75% of the nursery farmers reported easy availability of skilled workers and that their workers did not require any training whilst 23% reported facing difficulty in finding skilled labour and felt that their workers needed training in nursery techniques.

In terms of demand, 50% of private nursery farmers reported high demand, 32% reported low and 9% nurseries reported a medium demand for their seeds and plantlets.

Around 70% of the nurseries reported meetings demands of consumers’ whilst others could not meet consumer demand. The private nurseries of Sindh similarly do not export seeds and seedlings to other countries. All the private nurseries tailor to the necessities of the direct consumers. Lack of funds, water scarcity. lack of skilled workers, machinery, and availability of space was viewed as major problems in establishment of nurseries. There were no seed orchards in the province to cater to the needs of the private nurseries. The nurseries collaborate with each other in production and marketing.


According to a rough estimate, there were 500 private nurseries in Balochistan. These nurseries have little or inconsistent tradition of producing forest plants. Most of the nurseries produce fruit plants or horticultural plants which are high in demand for home gardens or urban plantations for beautification. Private nurseries of Sindh and Punjab cater to the needs of Balochistan. According to Balochistan Forest Department, there were around nine private nurseries which served as distributors of plants procured from Pattoki (Punjab) and llyderabad (Sindh):

Sibi: 1 nursery (seasonal)

• Dera Murad Jamali: 3 nurseries (all year round)

• Dera Allah Yar: 3 nurseries (all year round)

• Usta Muhammad: 1 nursery (all year around)

• Sohbatpur: 1 nursery (all year round)

The private nurseries in the province dealing with ornamental and other plants buy seeds from different authorized seed stores. The quality of seeds is thus mostly superior. Use of low-quality seeds is also used. The nursery owners also collect seeds for their requirements from random trees without any additional tree selection. There is no seed orchard managed by the Forest Department Balochistan.

Plants are sold both to the private buyers (individuals, whole-sellers, and other enterprises) and the Forest department, though, the quantity of forest plants procured in private nurseries by the Forest department is almost negligible. Only 250,000 plants. were purchased in 2019-2020. Around half of the nurse farmers reported lack of availability of equipment and skilled labour and need for training. The demand of plants produced in the nurseries was reported to be high with only 23% of nursery farmers reporting difficulties in selling plants. The nurseries collaborate with each other and are interdependent for marketing.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

KP has a long and well-established tradition of nursery establishment for production of fruits and forest plants. An estimated number of private nurseries in the province is 1200 of which majority are located in Peshawar and central KP regions. These nurseries produce a limited number of forest plants and other plants used in avenue or landscape planting in urban areas. A unique feature of KP is the establishment of community-based nurseries supported by the Forest department on a buy back guarantee. This tradition started with the Dutch funded Social Forestry project (1989-1999) and WFP’s Environment Rehabilitation Project (1992-1998) later upheld by Forestry Sector Project of the ADB. This experience was replicated by BTAP (2014 onwards) and is currently supported by TBTAP. Currently, a total of 74 community nurseries are raised during spring season and 199 nurseries during the monsoon (2021). Many of these nurseries are tended by women. Each nursery is expected to produce around 25,000 plants

Nurseries and Propagules in Private/Community Sectors of Pakistan

78% of the nursery farmers buy seeds and propagules from the market. They also self-collect seeds and propagules for their requirements and sale. Seed is purchased both from authorized sellers as well as from unauthorized seed stores. Only one nursery reported that they buy seeds from a seed research center. All the nurseries however claimed that they use quality seeds. Half of the nursery owners believe that they have sufficient machinery and equipment required for their nurseries whereas, the rest complained shortage of equipment. Skilled nursery labor is available, however, their availability is dependent on the season. There is a competition for labor during the early monsoon for demand in rice transplanting fields in southern KP and central Punjab. Monsoon is also an engaging period for other agricultural operations in central KP including tobacco curing.

Most of the nurseries stated that the demand for plants was good but, in some years sudden fluctuation in demand was reported resulting in financial losses to the owners. The buyers included whole sellers, the forest department, retailers, and individuals. The nurseries cooperate for the procurement of materials and sale of plants. It is however important to note that most plant stocks were procured from Punjab, though there existed scope for the establishment of nurseries by the private sector in diverse climatic regions.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir

There are 24 private nurseries in MK over an area of 103 hectares On average these nurseries produce _ 4 million plants. Out of these, nearly 81% of plants were purchased by the Forest Department (over 3.3 million) during the last five years. Except for Pinu,s. roxburghii, all the species raised by private nurseries were broad-leaved. “‘Seeds were purchased from authorized dealers and were reported to be of superior quality. The lack of equipment impeded efficient plant production. Skilled laborers were reported as easily available. High demand for nursery plants and a good collaboration among nursery farmers existed for marketing planting stocks.

Gilgit Baltistan

GB’s private nurseries seem to share the largest proportion of seedlings in the public and private sectors. A private nursery at GB has a 5-10 kanal area on average and it supplies 18,000 plants. There are roughly around 250 private nurseries in GB. Recently, GB has started to produce plants on buy-back agreements with nursery entrepreneurs. Poplar is the main tree species, which is multiplicated through cuttings.

Nursery owners buy their seeds from Swat and their neighbors. Skilled labor is generally not available except in forest department-managed nurseries. This is because, nursery-raising coincides with the agriculture cropping season (plowing, sowing, weeding of maize wheat, potato, etc.), therefore, a shortage of labor is faced. The lack of skilled manpower to manage nurseries remains a problem.

Most of nursery farmers sell plants to private buyers except the nurseries contracted by the forest department which sells plants to the department. The demand for nursery stocks fluctuates, with commencing and ending government afforestation projects. Plants are also procured from Swat and Haripur as local nurseries fail to fulfill the high demands created by newly initiated projects. Shortage of inputs (e.g., fertilizers), and water were the main problem. Free grazing is also a challenge due to which fencing becomes necessary, which has a high cost.

Issues/Challenges faced by private nursery farmers

Machinery/equipment impediment

There is a significant impediment regarding access to machinery and relevant equipment for nursery raising, management, and seed collection. Only in case of 14% of respondents specifically in Sindh reported that they were fully equipped with relevant means and could access required machinery and equipment. In other provinces, a lack of machinery/equipment was reported as a key impediment.

Nurseries and Propagules in Private/Community Sectors of Pakistan

Availability of Skilled Labour

Overall. skilled human resources in Sindh, Punjab, KP, and AJK are relatively easily available. In Balochistan and GB shortage of skilled human resources was reported by 50% of the respondents.

Nurseries and Propagules in Private/Community Sectors of Pakistan

Other Issues

Nursery owners face water scarcity (especially in Sindh, Balochistan, and GB) and a shortage of funds (especially in Punjab, KP, and AJK). Other concerns included a lack of market information on demand, unpredictable demand from the market, and risk-prone land tenure, especially in the case of small nurseries which are located on marginal lands with insecure or informal lease agreements.

Nurseries and Propagules in Private/Community Sectors of Pakistan

Source: REDD+ Pakistan

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