ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam informed the National Assembly on Thursday that Pakistan was no longer self-sufficient in wheat as the per acre yield had declined.
He said that 25 million tons of wheat was produced this year against the target of 27m tons and to ensure that there was no shortage of the commodity and to keep its price stable, the government had allowed the private sector to import wheat.
The minister said the production of cotton, maize and sugarcane had also declined. The government, he said, would take measures to increase the per acre yield of wheat, sugarcane and cotton. A virus had damaged the cotton crop whose production declined to 7.3m tons from 15m tons, he added.
Mr Imam said assistance would be sought from Chinese scientists and experts to overcome the difficulties in cotton production under the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Committee set up to look after the issues pertaining to wheat import
Meanwhile, the ministry of national food security has constituted a monitoring committee to look after the issues pertaining to the import of wheat.
The five-member committee set up in pursuance of a decision of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet is headed by an additional secretary of the ministry and also includes representative of wheat importers association.
The committee will evaluate the process of import permit issuance and will monitor the quantity of wheat imported into the country, and streamline the task of import of wheat and will coordinate among stakeholders like the ministry of commerce, the Federal Board of Revenue and the State Bank of Pakistan.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has informed the Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (Passco) that it has decided to lift 100,000 metric tons of wheat as per the agreement signed a few days ago, and it issued directives on Thursday to start lifting the entire agreed quantity of wheat within next two to three days from designated Passco reservoirs.
The Balochistan government has also been assured of getting 15,000 metric tons of wheat. Additional facility of provision of wheat from Passco reservoirs located in Balochistan has also been extended in order to save on the expenses on account of transportation charges. The wheat will be released to Balochistan whenever desired by the provincial government.
Passco says arrangements for transportation of wheat from its designated centers will be the responsibility of respective provinces, however, it is ready for wheat dispatches.
President Arif Alvi on Thursday asked the ministry of national food security and research to chalk out a plan of action focusing on enhancing export of mangoes.
Value addition and an aggressive marketing strategy needed to be devised with an object to explore new markets for mango exports, the president said while chairing a meeting to increase the export of mangoes through trade diplomacy and showcasing of Pakistan’s superior quality mangoes in the international market.
Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam briefed the president about the issues and challenges being faced by the exporters and growers and emphasised the need for adopting best agricultural practices to increase mango yield.
The government has decided to establish a research institute to promote organic agriculture in view of the falling output of traditional crops in the country.
However, at the public sector level, a national institute of organic agriculture is working under the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2020