ISLAMABAD: The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) on Wednesday set production targets for major crops such as sugarcane, rice and cotton and other crops for the kharif season in 2020-21.
The high-powered committee oversees strategic measures for ensuring food security in the country.
The committee set a production target of 69,801.5 thousand tonnes of sugarcane to be produced over an area of 1,180.6 thousand hectares. The target for rice, another cash crop of the kharif season, has been set at 7,990 thousand tonnes over an area of 2,957.0 thousand hectares, while the target for cotton was fixed at 10.8 million bales from 2,310 thousand hectares.
The target for maize has been set at 5,012 thousand tonnes over an area of 1,338.9 thousand hectares. The target for mash is 605.9 thousand tonnes and chillies 2,481 thousand tonnes.
The targets have been set keeping in view the estimated water availability for irrigation and agricultural inputs. The committee was informed that the water availability in canal heads for 2020 will remain at 71.153m acres feet (MAF) compared to 65.233MAF last year. Presently, all provinces were getting satisfactory water supply from the irrigation system.
The committee was also informed regarding the higher-than-needed availability of rice and maize seeds at 168.93pc and 53.196pc respectively.
Encouraged by local production and available stocks, the FCA was informed that the urea and DAP supply during the kharif season will be enough to meet the projected demand.
The FCA appreciated the positive impact of the fertiliser subsidy scheme which contributed to high yields and noted that the supply of urea and DAP fertilisers was satisfactory during the 2019-20 rabi season.
A State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) official informed the meeting that the allocations for institutional credit to agriculture had substantially increased to Rs1.350 trillion for 2019-20 and disbursements by the month of March were at Rs912.2 billion - nearly 67.7pc of the overall annual target of Rs1.350tr, up 13.3pc from the Rs804.4bn last year.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department informed the FCA meeting that the overall normal to slightly above normal rainfalls are likely to occur all over the country during FY21. During July to September, Sindh and Kashmir are likely to receive moderately above normal — 20pc more rainfall. Area-weighted normal rainfall of Pakistan during July and September is 140.8mm.
Therefore, sufficient water will be available for irrigation and power sectors, the meeting was informed.
While reviewing the performance of rabi crops during the outgoing season, the FCA observed that wheat production for 2019-20 has been estimated to be 25.45m tonnes from an area of 8.813m hectares, up 4pc from 24.47m tonnes last year.
The FCA was also informed that the production of gram for 2019-20 has been estimated at 502.6 thousand tonnes from an area of 940.0 thousand hectares, up 14.2pc from 440.2 thousand tonnes last year. Meanwhile, the meeting also discussed production of other essential crops like lentil, potato, onion and tomato. Potato production during the last season was 4.4m tonnes whereas it is estimated to be 4.43m tonnes in the FY21. Balochistan produced a bumper crop of tomato this year, the committee was informed.
Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam, who chaired the meeting, emphasised the need for an increase in wheat production, saying that the country needs to develop a high-yield wheat variety through genetic engineering.
He directed the members present at the meeting to increase awareness especially to farmers regarding international protocols for export of fruit and vegetables. He also emphasised the need to implement international protocols at all levels of growing and selling in the internal and external markets as it the only way to modernise agriculture in the country. He said these protocols are the frontiers we have to break.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2020