The Federal Committee on Agriculture on Thursday has set the wheat production target for this year at 26.04m tonnes – an anticipated increase of 1.7 percent over last year.
Cotton will be sown in an area of 2.33 million hectares, rice over 3.07 million hectares, and sugarcane on an area of 1.18m hectares. The target for maize production was set at 6.8 million tonnes. Production targets for mung, mash, and chilies were also set.
The committee meeting, chaired by Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam was attended by Chairman PARC and other federal ministers.
The committee was informed by the relevant department that the expected shortfall of irrigation for Kharif crops will be 16pc. Water availability in canal heads is anticipated at 67.60-million-acre-feet (MAF) for Kharif crops during April-September 2021 period. Presently, all the provinces are getting satisfactory water supplies in the system.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department that based on climate change projections for the coming months, the country will experience normal to slightly above normal rainfalls.
The gradual rise in temperature will accelerate the melting of the glaciers in the Northern Areas and subsequently increase runoff in the upper Indus region. Low rains may cause water stress for the standing crops, especially in the barani areas (rain-fed belt).
According to the representative, fewer rains and seasonal rise in air temperatures are likely to intensify the ongoing drought conditions over south-western Balochistan and Tharparker regions of Sindh. Accordingly, judicious use of available water stock is recommended.
The FCA was informed that potato production for 2020-21 has been estimated at 5,742.7 thousand tonnes from an area of 2,26.1 thousand hectares which showed an increase in production of 829.7 over last year. The committee also discussed the production achievements of other essential crops including gram, lentil, onion, and tomato.
The committee was informed that the availability of rice and maize seeds will remain as per requirement. Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the agricultural credit disbursement made by lending institutions is gradually picking up pace. From July 2020 to February 2021, agriculture lending institutions have disbursed Rs806.4 billion which is 53.8 percent of the overall annual target and 2.9 percent higher than the disbursement of Rs783.8bn made during the same period last year.
A few days earlier several ministers criticized their own government for inability to provide relief to the agriculture sector in, the country.
Federal Ministers were wary of the increased input prices and low output prices. Ghulam Sarwar Khan, the aviation minister said, “we have not been able to do anything for the agricultural sector”.
Pakistan this season, saw high demand for cotton yarn, however, the market had low supply leading to the government almost allowing the import of cotton from India.
If Kharif is not sown this season, the government may have to decide on the cotton import, as well as make a policy on incentivizing cotton crop growers to stay in the cotton sector rather than shifting to the sugarcane crop.