ISLAMABAD, April 3: The output of wheat crop 2003-04 is likely to touch 20.1 million tons, which will be sufficient to fulfil the country's requirements during 2004-05, the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) was informed here on Saturday.

The FCA meeting, under the chairmanship of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind, reviewed the performance of various crops for 2003-04, fixed targets and considered availability of water and chemical inputs for the forthcoming Kharif crops.

The meeting was attended, besides the federal food and agriculture secretary, by Sindh Agriculture Minister Arif Mustafa Jatoi, the Punjab agriculture secretary and senior officials from NWFP and Balochistan.

The FCA was told that the actual production of wheat would exceed the target by a slight margin of 0.1 million tons in 2003-04. The output of the wheat crop of 2002-03, it was reiterated, was 19.2 million - a figure which, however, was contested by knowledgeable quarters.

The widespread skepticism on the matter tended to be reinforced by the sporadic shortages and spiral of wheat flour rates that continued throughout the outgoing year.

As regards other crops, the meeting was given the following estimates of production in 2003-04: Cotton 10.1 million bales; rice 4.9 million tons; sugarcane 52.6 million tons; maize 1.9 million tons; moong 0.168 million tons; potato 2.1 million tons; and onion 1.5 million tons.

The targets for different crops of Kharif 2004-05 were fixed by the committee as follows: cotton 10.7 million bales; rice 5.1 million tons; sugarcane 50.7 million tons; maize 2.1 million tons; and moong 164,000 tons.

WATER: The meeting was informed that water availability during Kharif 2004-05 was projected to be 67.4 MAF as compared to 65.9 MAF in 2003-04.

It was expected that the availability of water during the sowing season of cotton would fall short of requirement by four per cent. During the last year, the water shortage was two per cent.

Nevertheless, the committee was assured that the water availability situation during the remaining season would be better than the last year.

CHEMICALS: Nitrogen and potash fertilizers would remain available during the Kharif season. As regards pesticides, these would be available in required quantity for cotton and other Kharif crops.

A pesticide policy would be announced to ensure quality and moderate prices of these agro-chemicals, the meeting was further informed.

CREDIT: The meeting also noted that a credit line of Rs65.6 billion was available with the bank during 2004-05 as against Rs62 billion of the previous year.

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