Winter rains boost sowing of Rabi wheat crop

Post Source: Dawn – By Amin Ahmed – Wednesday, 11 Nov, 2009

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ISLAMABAD: The first winter rainfall, though delayed, has ended the prolonged drought-like conditions mainly in the barani tract and gave a big boost to the current wheat sowing of the Rabi season. 

More rainfall is required for the agricultural fields in barani areas, but the rainfall occurred two days ago has provided enough moisture for wheat seeds already sown in the field by farmers. 

The agriculture in barani areas chiefly depends on rain, through mini and small dams run-off water is saved for use in emergency situation. While small farmers depend on small dams for irrigating their crops, farmers having large farms have built their own mini dams. 

In the meantime, the ‘Crop Prospects and Food Situation’ report released by UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on its website on Tuesday stated that as a result of the large wheat production Pakistan is expected to switch back to a net wheat exporter in 2009-10. 

Wheat crop harvested in June this year is estimated at a record output of 24 million tons, some 3 million tons more than last year, reflecting a higher government supported purchase price of Rs950 per 40kg, favourable weather conditions, and subsidised fertilisers. 

In September the government removed the 35 per cent duty on wheat export. 

While the government has enough wheat in stock, weather experts have advised the government to keep intact the wheat in reserves in case weather conditions turn against the crop. 

Meanwhile, the harvesting of the 2009 paddy crop was underway, and the total paddy output is forecast at a record level of 9.6 million tons. The FAO Situation Report expects a rise in rice export from Pakistan in view of the record production. 

A leading rice exporter said that the domestic price had more-or-less followed the pattern of the international export prices. In nominal terms the latest monthly retail price of rice in the central location of Multan is 63 per cent higher than the corresponding price 24 months back. 

The retail prices of wheat, both nominal and real, have steadily climbed up over the last 24-month period. Wheat price in Pakistan is affected by cross-border exports to neighbouring Afghanistan, the situation report said.

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