Govt revises wheat production target to 22.3mt from 25mt

Post Source: DailyTimes – By Ijaz Kakakhel

ISLAMABAD: After droughty situation, the government has revised major crops estimates and the reset target for wheat is now 22.3 million tonnes instead of 25 million tonnes. Officials in the Ministry for Finance told Daily Times on Monday that the latest crops estimates includes cotton (12.7 million bales against the initial target of 12.10 million bales), rice (6.7 million tonnes against the initial target of 6.37 million tonnes), sugarcane (47 million tonnes against 56 million tonnes), and maize (3.2 million tonnes against 3.4 million tonnes).

The targets for Rabbi Season 2009-10 were set during the 91st meeting of the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA), held on October 12, 2009. The six major crops for which targets have been reset have considerable contribution 7.10 percent in determining the size of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the Ministry for Finance figures.

Sources in the Ministry for Food and Agriculture said the droughty situation would result about 2 million tonnes wheat production shortfall for the current season but it would have been worse than it had the government not taken necessary steps to counter it.

There was no rain across the country in November and December 2009, which resulted into lover production of wheat in the current season. Achieving the national wheat target mainly depends upon the crops produced from rain-fed areas areas.

Agriculture Development Commissioner Qadir Bux Baloch claimed that the government would be able to achieve wheat production as required by the country. He also claimed that wheat was lying in surpluses quantity in previous years so there would be no shortfall in the country. The government, he said, had arranged provision of all-important inputs including availability of urea fertilizer, certified seeds, land leveling, provision of subsidy on Potash, and many others.

He claimed that only 10 percent wheat sowing fields were in barani areas, which gave 2 million tonnes wheat production and that here was a need for rain after November 15 till December 2009 but it did not happen, because of which wheat could not have been sown.

Last year, the government campaign for increasing wheat production from 24 mund to 27 mund per acre remained successful, he said. The government had moved to increase wheat production from last year’s 27 mund to 30 mund per acre in the current season.

He said, “The government would cover deficiency of 2 million tonnes wheat production in barani areas through increase in per acre production. The attractive support price of Rs 950 per 40 kg wheat would encourage the farmers to produce more. According to breakdown, of 25 million tonnes, 19.205 million tonnes wheat would be gain from Punjab, 3.682 million tonnes from Sindh, 1.210 million tonnes from NWFP and 0.903 million tonnes from Balochistan, he said.

Ministry for Food and Agriculture officials claimed that provinces had informed the ministry that they had achieved wheat-sowing targets for fiscal year 2009-10. The wheat sowing data revealed that the government had achieved the first requirement – wheat sowing target – and time would decide the accomplishment of achieving production target.

The officials claimed that the government had a surplus of about 2.5 million tones wheat. Conservative estimates suggest that the federal government has at least 1.5 million tones strategic reserves with liberal releases to the millers.

The wheat sowing data revealed that Punjab had sown wheat over 6.841 million hectare achieving 100 per cent target, Sindh over 1 million hectare against the target of 1.031 million hectare, NWFP over 0.665 million hectare and Balochistan over 0.290 million hectare.

Keeping in view the track record of the wheat production in the country, it suggests that the country achieved a record production when the drought-like situations was being feared.

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