Estimated: Wheat target likely to be missed

FCA meeting sets production aims for 2016-17

Our Correspondent April 15, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) on Thursday fixed estimated targets for 2016-17 with the indication that the wheat target of 26 million tons is unlikely to be achieved.

“According to initial estimates, the country is unlikely to achieve the wheat production target of 26 million tons for 2015-16,” said Food and Security and Research Minister Sikander Hayat Khan Bosan at a press conference after the FCA meeting. “It is likely to remain at 25.5 million, which shows a slight decline.”

He said that the wheat production for 2015-16 is likely at 25.45 million metric tons from an area of 9.25 million hectares.

The FCA meeting reviewed the estimates for Rabi crops production and fixed targets for the Kharif season 2016-17. The meeting also reviewed agriculture input including fertiliser, water, seed and pesticides.

In the previous meeting of the FCA in October 2015, it had fixed wheat production target at 26 million tons for Rabi season 2015-16, with Punjab to produce 19.5 million from an area of 6.68 million hectares, Sindh 4.2 million from an area of 1.15 million hectares, Khyber-Pakhtunkwa (K-P) 1.4 million tons from an area of 0.75 million tons and Balochistan 0.9 million tons from an area of 0.4 million hectares.

During 2015-16, the wheat sowing area amounted to 9.25 million hectares, which shows an enhancement of 0.53% over last year’s.

Bosan said that the government has decided to enhance wheat procurement this year. The government will procure 7.05 million tons of wheat with the financial requirement of Rs218 billion, which has already been approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). The procurement operation has started in Sindh and will start in Punjab from Friday (today).

Out of 7.05 million tons, 4.50 million tons will be procured by Punjab, 1.10 million tons by Sindh, 0.3 million tons by KPK and 0.10 million by Balochistan and Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) will procure 1 million tons, he added.

“The production of gram crop 2015-16 was estimated at around 306,000 tons from an area of 944,000 tons.”

The FCA working paper shows that the area for gram crop for the year 2015-16 decreased by 0.45% as compared to last year and production decreased by 23.69% due to dry weather, while rain caused excessive weeds at the time of sowing and attack of termite and wilt.

The minister said that the production of potato crop for 2015-16 was achieved at 3,853.4 thousand tons.

He said that the committee fixed sugarcane crop production target at 67.5 million tons from an area of 1.13 million hectares, compared to last year production of 65.1 million from an area of 1.1 million hectares. The committee fixed rice production target for 2016-17 at 6.9 million tons from an area of 2.8 million hectares.

The target for maize crop was fixed at 4.6 million tons and Mung production target fixed at 111400 tons.

Bosan, while quoting Indus River System Authority (IRSA), said that water availability for Kharif crop 2016-17 would be 22% higher than last year.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2016.

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