LAHORE, Dec 6: Wheat crop might face further pressure as the import of urea fertilizer was delayed, farmer bodies said on Tuesday. The federal government had decided to import 350,000 tons of urea in November and December to meet the deficit. According to the import schedule, around 50,000 tons had to arrive in November and the remaining in December.

The country needs 700,000 tons of urea for wheat crop whereas the domestic production stands at 400,000 tons. The November consignment is yet to arrive and 300,000 tons due in December would also be late.

Nisar Ahmad of the Kissan Board Pakistan said wheat sowing had already been delayed owing to a variety of factors, which loomed large over the final yield. Now, a delay in the urea import could hurt the crop beyond redemption.

Till Nov 30th — ten days after the optimum sowing time — the sowing figure stood at around 50 per cent. The agriculture department’s claim that sowing would be completed by Dec 10 was ridiculous when taken in the backdrop of the current situation, he said.

He said the remaining 50 per cent of the area where sowing would take place in December would see a substantial drop in the final yield, thus cutting the wheat production at the national level.

“Farmers can make up for late sowing to some extent with the better use of fertilizer,” said an official of the Farmers Associates Pakistan. Both urea and DAP were crucial to wheat production. He said the DAP had become so expensive that only a limited number of farmers afforded it, as its price had gone beyond Rs1200 per bag. The urea was in short supply in addition to being expensive, he said, adding that all these things did not augur well for wheat crop.

At present, most of the area where sowing was to be done was in the cotton belt of the province. Farmers were picking even the last boll because of good price they were getting for it. So, in all probability, wheat sowing would be delayed even further.

This, he said, was the failure of the agriculture department’s extension wing, which had not motivated farmers in time and now the entire nation would face the trouble.

He urged the provincial government to force the extension wing into action before it was too late.

Punjab Agriculture Secretary Fayyaz Bashir conceded delay in the urea arrival, but said the federal government was trying hard to quicken the process of import. The Punjab government was pressing the federal government to make special arrangement for speedy disbursement of urea when it arrived in the next few days.

Both federal and provincial governments had taken steps to ensure quick distribution of urea and inland transportation would make up for some of the time lost in import process.

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