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Record wheat crop likely


ISLAMABAD: The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in its current report on ‘crop prospects and food situation,’ has stated that wheat producing countries in Asia, including Pakistan, have favourable prospects.

“Pakistan is forecast to record high wheat crop, reflecting adequate supplies of water for mostly irrigated crops and good price prospects encouraging an increased use of inputs to boost yields,” the report said.

The FAO report also forecast that Pakistan would have a good cereal crop with projected production of 3.2 million tons this year as compared to 2.3 million tons last year.  The cereal production peaked 4.0 million tons in 2010.

The report went on to record that despite floods last year which caused significant crop damage, there has been improvement in national aggregate cereal output in Pakistan and some other countries. The paddy production in 2011 improved in Pakistan following a recovery from floods.

Timely rainfall during winter has brightened prospects of a good wheat crop in 2012. Though Pakistan has set a target of over 25 million tons wheat this year, the FAO analysis projects a higher yield with provision of fertiliser and other inputs and favourable prices.

The FAO forecast that world wheat production will be the second highest on record at 690 million tons in 2012.

Although most of the wheat crop is irrigated, rain-fed wheat production is also likely to make a good prospect, and agricultural experts expect bumper wheat crop this year.

A senior official of the Planning Commission, when contacted, told Dawn that extended winter season is a positive factor and will have a good impact on the wheat crop.

The UN food agency analysis also says that wheat prices in Pakistan stabilised in February after rising steadily during the second half of 2011, mainly due to a slowdown in exports.

The FAO also announced that international food prices rose one per cent in February, the second increase in two months. The food price index climbed nearly two per cent in January, and at its current level, the index was 10 per cent below its peak in February 2011.