ISLAMABAD: The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates that Pakistan’s rice production is expected to be around 9.7 million tons this year despite devastations caused by floods and heavy rains in major parts of the country.
Despite floods, damage to paddy crop has been moderate and national paddy output will be 6.5 million tons in milled terms, which is 35 per cent above the last year’s crop, but below the bumper harvests in 2008 and 2009, the FAO said in a country brief on Pakistan.
Pakistan is the world’s fifth largest rice exporter and with the expectation of a good production in 2011, the potential exportable surplus for 2012 is forecast at about three million tons of rice, says the report.
According to the report, bumper cereal harvest has been estimated despite floods in parts of the country this year. The total production estimate for maize, sorghum and millet is put at 4.1 million tons.
In 2011, wheat crop reached a record level of 24.3 million tons, some 4.2 per cent higher than the previous year’s above-average output, reflecting favourable weather, subsidised fertilisers and a government implemented minimum support purchase price of Rs950 per 40kg.
The report says that the planting of wheat is currently under way under generally unfavourable weather conditions but the Pakistan Meteorological Department advises farmers to sow wheat as per requirement to take benefit of persistent dry weather.
The report says that the prices of wheat and wheat flour have increased in recent months while that of rice have been rising since the beginning of 2011.
With strong export demand prices of wheat and wheat flour have increased over the last three months after a post-harvest dip in mid-2011. However, wheat prices in November were generally near same levels as a year earlier.
Last month, domestic price for rice, which has been on the rise since the beginning of the year after the trend in export prices, was 28 per cent above its level in November 2011. Price of basmati rice, intended mainly for export, has been on the rise since August 2010.
The report concludes that the overall food supply situation in Pakistan has been satisfactory following consecutive years of relatively good harvests.
However, the country has been hit by severe floods for the second year in a row and this year’s rain induced floods affected over nine million people.
The number of houses damaged or destroyed has reached nearly 1.5 million.
Furthermore, the affected population suffered significant losses in crops, livestock and grain stocks.
Additionally, the impact of high inflation is a cause for concern, especially for the low income population.
The FAO has launched an initiative Pakistan Floods Rapid Response Plan 2011, which is funded by donor contributions with nearly $10.6 million, to provide about 91,000 flood-affected families with vital crop and livestock assistance.