ISLAMABAD: The Punjab Agriculture Department informed the wheat review committee on Thursday that the province would not be able to achieve its revised sowing target of 16.7 million acres due to the increasing price of fertilisers.

However, it said, the originally assigned sowing target of 16.2m acres would be achieved.

Punjab had voluntarily enhanced its sowing target to 16.7m acres, but due to the fertiliser crisis it reverted to its original target of 16.2m acres.

A meeting of the committee, chaired by Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam, was informed by Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan that they had achieved the sowing targets. Sindh had the sowing target of 2.9m acres, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 2.2m acres and Balochistan 1.3m acres.

Review committee told Sindh, KP and Balochistan achieved assigned sowing targets

However, the representatives of all provincial agricultural departments assured the committee that the assigned production targets would be achieved but expressed concern over the availability of DAP and urea and their prices.

It was a general consensus at the meeting that certified seed was adequately available, but high prices and unavailability of urea were an ongoing challenge. The meeting was told that the high price of DAP had also resulted in its overall lower usage during the sowing season.

The procurement target of Punjab stands at 3.5m tonnes and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan at 100,000 tonnes, respectively. The procurement target of Sindh is yet to be finalised by the provincial cabinet, but the anticipated target will be between 1.2m and 1.4m tonnes.

The meeting was informed that 30 per cent drought and disease tolerant seed was sown which would positively contribute to wheat production.

The Punjab agriculture secretary requested for the revision of minimum support price of wheat with a view to supporting the successful achievement of procurement target.

A representative of the Indus River System Authority informed the meeting that the shortage of irrigation water, which was estimated at 28pc at the time of sowing season, has now minimised due to the recent rainfall, and the shortfall for the current Rabi season could be 20pc.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department has forecast below normal rainfall in February and above normal rainfall in March, especially in central Punjab.

Mr Imam told the meeting that some parameters had been established to ensure that wheat crop sowing was monitored effectively. These include, but are not limited to wheat sowing area and completion percentage of the assigned target, sowing method, drilling or broadcasting, quantum of DAP and urea fertilisers used during sowing practices, fertiliser offtake, use of certified seeds, seed varieties of old or new rust-tolerant used during sowing, availability status of herbicides and fertiliser availability and pricing status.

The minister assured the provinces that necessary steps would be immediately taken to ensure that the factors of production, including fertilisers, are available in ample supply. He praised Punjab’s efforts to ensure that farmers sow wheat seeds timely.

The meeting was held to monitor the status of wheat crop in the country. Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Fehmida Mirza was especially invited to attend the meeting.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2022

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