KARACHI: The Federal Committee on Agriculture has set crop targets for the Kharif season which runs from April to September.
Among major crops, the target for cotton crop has been increased by 10 per cent to 14 million bales compared to last year’s production of 12.7 million bales.
Sugarcane target has been fixed at 53.7 million tons against production of 47 million tons last season while rice crop is expected to be of 6 million tons, down from last year’s 6.7 million tons.
However, the major challenge facing farmers is an inadequate supply of water, which will make it impossible to meet crop targets.
“Water supply from Kotri Barrage, which feeds the farmlands of Thatta, Badin and Mirpurkhas, is 3,000 cusecs, which should be 44,000 cusecs in April,” Nadeem Shah, Information Secretary Sindh Abadgar Board, said while talking to The Express Tribune over phone from Hyderabad.
He said that cotton is sown over 150,000 to 160,000 acres in Sindh. Last year, the province produced a record crop of 4.23 million bales due mainly to cultivation of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton seeds.
This year too, he said, BT cotton would be sown extensively in the province as its weather suits the seed.
However, it will be difficult to meet the target if water shortages persist, said Shah, also a member of the Sindh Seed Corporation. This is the second largest foreign exchange earner for Pakistan after textiles which earns $9-10 billion a year. Local consumption of rice is 3 million tons.
In the case of sugarcane, the farmers are expected to go for large-scale cultivation after the government last week allowed sugar mills to produce power from cane waste. Shah demanded an adequate supply of fertilisers and approved seed varieties.
Power crisis Prolonged
power outages continued last week.
Industrialists staged protests in Punjab denouncing staterun power utilities for their inefficiencies.
They warned that they would close down their manufacturing facilities and businesses if power and gas outages were not controlled. Industrialists said they had suffered losses and failed to meet export orders on time.
Power shortfall in the previous week reached a high of 5,900 megawatts, leading to eight hours of power disruption in Punjab.
“Electricity supply is cut to the industries for about eight hours a day,” Zaheer Bhutta, Chairman Lahore Township Industrial Association. “Fifty per cent of industries have been closed in the industrial area and thousands of workers have been laid off,” he claimed. The government continues to give assurances that the problem will be solved as new power plants are in the pipeline.
The government is also considering importing electricity from Iran which has made an offer. Iran is already exporting electricity to Turkey.