ISLAMABAD: Anticipating massive shortfall in irrigation water for the upcoming Rabi season, the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) on Thursday fixed the wheat production target at 25.6 million tonnes, which is 3.25 per cent lower than last year’s 26.46m tonnes.
The country produced 25.49m tonnes of wheat during the last Rabi season mainly due to delayed sowing in Punjab and Sindh owing to late start of cane crushing, water shortages and heatwave in March.
Federal Secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Dr Muhammad Hashim Popalzai, chaired the meeting which was attended by officials of provincial agricultural departments and all other stakeholders. Federal Minister, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehbub Sultan could not attend the meeting.
The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) informed the meeting that an allocation of 23.322m acre feet of water has been made for the Rabi season.
The prevailing weather conditions are not promising and shortage may exceed, it warned.
However, the water position will be reviewed in the first week of November, and measures will be taken to manage the shortage.
Production achievements of wheat, gram, potato, lentil, onion, tomato and chillies were also discussed in the meeting. The committee proposed the provinces to focus on oilseed and pulses cultivation with a view to reduce the import bill.
The maize production target was set at 5.5m tonnes from an area of 1,194,600 hectares.
The committee was informed that the urea supply will remain comfortable during the coming Rabi season due to enhancement of local production and import.
It was noted that the supply of urea and DAP fertilisers was satisfactory for 2018-19 Kharif season.
The committee reviewed the Kharif crop performance, and was informed that sugarcane and rice production was estimated at 68.25m tonnes and 7.1m tonnes, respectively, for for 2018-19.
A State Bank official informed the meeting that during FY18, banks achieved the target of Rs972.6 billion against target of Rs1,001bn. Total 3.7m borrowers were served during 2017-18 by 50 commercials banks, microfinance banks, Islamic banks and other microfinance institutions.
Agriculture Credit Advisory Committee set a target of Rs1,250bn for 2018-19. As of August, banks achieved a target of Rs121bn which is around 10pc of overall target.
Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2018