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Govt for enhancing kharif crop production

Updated April 14, 2019

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Farmers prepare a field for cultivation of hybrid seeds of maize at a farm in Faisalabad on April 1. Maize production at country level for kharif 2018 was reported at 5.521 million tonnes.—APP
Farmers prepare a field for cultivation of hybrid seeds of maize at a farm in Faisalabad on April 1. Maize production at country level for kharif 2018 was reported at 5.521 million tonnes.—APP

ISLAMABAD: The government will promote indigenous production of agricultural crops that would substitute the import of edible oil as well as enhance production of kharif crops in the upcoming meeting of Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA).

The FCA meeting, which would be held on April 17 to set the target for sowing of kharif, is organised by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR). The biannual meeting will take stock of the previous production patterns and fix targets of all major and minor crops in consultation with provincial agriculture departments and other stakeholders.

Despite the fact that the MNFSR hosts the FCA meeting in order to enhance domestic agricultural production through increasing per yield acre, provincial representation is seen at the level of officials only. No provincial agriculture ministers attend the meeting, according to the ministry.

Cotton, maize production falls

Sowing season for kharif crops including sugarcane, rice, cotton and pulses (maize, mung and mash) begins in April and lasts until June, while harvesting is done in October.

During the last kharif season, there was a decrease in the production of sugarcane, cotton and maize, while some improvements were made in pulses.

Sugarcane, a high-value cash crop, saw its output decreasing by 16.89 per cent to 68.25m tonnes in 2018-19, from 82.12m tonnes over the previous year. There is still a huge yield gap between average and potential yields despite continuous increase in area, yield and production over the last few years.

In 2018, rice was cultivated on an area of 2,83m acres while production decline 4.43pc year-on-year to 7.12m tonnes. The crop’s area under cultivation contracted due to lower economic returns to farmers on account of decrease in prices both domestically and globally last year.

According to estimates from provincial agricultural departments, maize production at country-level for 2018 was reported at 5.521m tonnes reflecting a decrease of 1.99pc.

For mung, the total estimated production in 2018 stood at 124,800 tonnes with average yield of 755kg per hectare while the area and production rose by 1.67pc and 2.25pc year-on-year.

Statistics from provincial bodies put cultivation area for mash at 13,400 hectares with a total output of 6,450 tonnes in 2018. The area under cultivation dipped by 12.44pc whereas production was down 10.42pc from the previous year.

Cotton crop area has also reduced due to preference for sugarcane and maize, and in Punjab alone, area under cultivation has declined by 19.7pc between 2006 and 2018. In CY18, the crop’s area sown was 2.406m hectares, 81.4pc of the annual target which was set at 2.955m hectares. Against the production target of 14.04m bales in 2017, the country achieved the output of only 11.94m bales.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2019