Wheat production estimated to fall short by 2m tonnes

Published April 19, 2023
THE production of wheat was affected by devastating floods in 2022 that delayed sowing in Sindh. The country might be staring at a prolonged wheat shortage as data shows the area under cultivation has also shrunk to 9.1m hectares.—White Star / File
THE production of wheat was affected by devastating floods in 2022 that delayed sowing in Sindh. The country might be staring at a prolonged wheat shortage as data shows the area under cultivation has also shrunk to 9.1m hectares.—White Star / File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is estimated to produce 26.81 million tonnes of wheat during the ongoing Rabi season against the target of 28.4 million tonnes.

While production will be below the target, the area under wheat cultivation also reduced from 9.3 million hectares to 9.1 million hectares.

However, the reason for below-the-target wheat production was not explained during a meeting of the high-powered Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA).

Interestingly, a press release issued by the ministry of national food security and research on Tuesday highlighted that the production of 26.81 million tonnes of wheat this year reflects an increase of 1.6 per cent over the previous production year.

FCA satisfied with overall output of crops during outgoing Rabi season

Production plan for Rabi was affected by the 2022 devastating floods that delayed wheat sowing in Sindh. Not only wheat, the production of tomatoes and onion also suffered due to flooding in Sindh and Balochistan. The FCA has set the targets of major crops during the Kharif season 2023-24, anticipating better availability of irrigation water, and expressed satisfaction over the performance of crops during the outgoing Rabi season.

While reviewing performance of major crops during the outgoing Rabi season, the committee meeting chaired by secretary of the National Food Security and Research, decided to set the production target of nine million tonnes for rice over 3.1 million hectares of land; 78.6 million tonnes of sugar over an area 1.2 million hectares; and 7.6 million tonnes of maize over an area of 1.2 million hectares of land. Targets for other crops like moong, mash and chilies were also fixed.

The FCA observed that the potato production this year is expected to be 7.9 million tonnes from an area of 300,000 hectares of land, registering an increase of 1.9pc over previous year.

Tomato production is expected to touch the figure of 563.6 thousand tonnes from an area of 45.7 thousand hectares; the increase in production is 1.2pc over the last year. The production of gram for 2022-23 has been estimated at 313,000 tonnes from an area of 820.6 thousand hectares, showing a decrease of 1 per cent over last year which was attributed to floods in July-September 2022 period.

Similarly, the production of onion decreased due to climate situation, the FCA was informed. To overcome the shortfall and uplift of the agriculture sector, the prime minister announced special relief for the flood affected farmers under the Kisan package. Duty-free imports of onion and tomatoes were also allowed to ensure there is no shortage of the commodities in the market.

Pondering over the availability of agricultural outputs for Kharif crops, the meeting was of the consensus that water availability in canal heads will remain 62.74 million acres feet (MAF) as against last year which was 43.27MAF. Presently, all the provinces are getting their satisfactory supplies in the system.

The meteorological department informed the meeting that slightly above normal rains are expected during the next three months (April-June, 2023) particularly over the upper half of the country. Lesser rains are expected during the month of June.

The temperature may remain slightly above normal in most parts of the country. Gradual rise in temperature will accelerate the snowmelt in the Northern Areas. The seasonal rainfall may provide water for crops in the main rain-fed areas while lower parts of the country will remain deficient during the season of Kharif, according to the Met Office.

The committee was informed that the availability of rice and maize seed will remain available as per the requirement. The representative from State Bank of Pakistan informed that allocations of institutional credit for agriculture had substantially increased to Rs1,819 billion for 2022-23 and the disbursement up to February 2023 was Rs1,073.5 billion which is 59 per cent of overall annual target of Rs1,819 billion, which is 28.5pc higher than the disbursement of Rs835.3bn made during last year.

The FCA appreciated the positive impact of fertilizer subsidy scheme that contributed to high yield and National Fertilizer Development Centre representative told that due to local production and available stocks, the supply position of urea will remain comfortable subject to operational of all urea plants at full gas pressure. DAP will also remain available at satisfactory level.

The FCA expressed satisfaction over food security situation in the country, while also highlighting the need for research and development as well as better coordination to consolidate the gains and ensure further progress in the sector.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2023

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