Pakistan's farm sector may miss wheat, cotton targets

Finance ministry fears declining trend in agricultural sector during current financial year

Irshad Ansari April 29, 2020

 ISLAMABAD  : The finance ministry has expressed fears that locust attacks in Sindh could affect the wheat crop, while pest infestations coupled with bad weather conditions might affect the cotton crop, leading to a declining trend in the agricultural sector during the current financial year.

The April 2020 Monthly Economic Update Report issued by the ministry said that the country might not achieve wheat production target because of higher-than-expected rainfall this year. It added that locust attacks in Punjab and Sindh might also affect the crop.

Similarly, the report said that bad weather and pest infestations had affected the cotton crop, and as a result, cotton production fell to 9.45 million bales in the current financial year. It added that the volume of agricultural loans during the current financial year was Rs108 billion more than the previous year.

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Pakistan is in the grip of locust attack, which emerged last year. Swarms of locusts are wreaking havoc in the agricultural heart of the country, destroying the cotton crop in Punjab and Sindh. The government had declared a locust emergency and sought China’s help to deal with the crisis.

On Wednesday, China shipped pesticide and equipment to help Pakistan fight the second wave of locust infestations. Last week, China had sent 300,000 liters of pesticide and 50 sets of equipment to Pakistan.

The pesticide supply came after a Chinese team of experts visited Pakistan on February 23. They jointly conducted on-site investigations and determined emergency and comprehensive prevention and control measures.

“At present, the evolution of the locust plague in Pakistan is basically in line with the predictions of our experts,” an official of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in Beijing.

“A second wave of locust swarms is forming, which is a good time to use the drugs and equipment that China has provided to carry out the large-scale eradication,” the official added.

After the desert locust attacks in East Africa and South Asia, China attaches great importance to and supports other countries in combating the problem. In response to the locust infestations in Pakistan, China made plans, sent experts and provided medicine and equipment.

“The desert locust plague in East Africa is also continuing to develop. We are ready to provide technical support and material and equipment assistance together with relevant departments,” the official added.

With inputs from APP

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