Pakistan’s agriculture sector(wheat) is poised for significant growth in the coming year, thanks to government incentives that have successfully revived the local agriculture sector, according to the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA).‘
The FCA informed Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research Zafar Hassan in their latest meeting that the government’s incentives introduced to alleviate the harmful effects of catastrophic floods and rains during the last monsoon season have led to a substantial increase in the production of Rabi crops.
The high-powered committee apprised that wheat output during the Rabi season 2022-23 increase by 1.6% compared to last year, with total output estimated at 26.81 million tonnes.
Farmers sowed wheat crops over 9.0 million hectares to meet the local demand for staple food and to sustain strategic reserves.
Furthermore, potato production also saw a growth of 1.9% during the season, with a total production of 7.9 million tonnes.
Potatoes were cultivate over 0.3 million hectares, while the tomato production for 2022-23 is up to be 563.6 thousand tonnes from an area of 45.7 thousand aectare.
There an increase in production of 1.2% over last year, while gram production is estimate at 313 thousand tonnes from an area of 820.6 thousand hectares.
However, due to rains and floods in July-September 2022, local onion production during Rabi 2022-23 decrease compared to last year.
To overcome this shortage, duty-free imports of onion and tomatoes were also allowed, ensuring there was no shortage in the market and prices remained stable.
The FCA also discussed production targets for essential Kharif crops 2023-24 and fixed rice production targets at 9 million by sowing the crop on over 3.1 million hectares of land.
In the meantime, the FCA set maize production targets at 7.6 million tonnes by cultivating maize on over 1.3 million hectares of land, and established sugarcane production targets at 78.6 million tonnes by growing it over an area of 1.2 million hectares.
Regarding the availability of wheat inputs for Kharif crops (2023), the water availability in canals head will remain 62.74 million acres feet (MAF) as against last year, which was 43.27 MAF.
At present, all provinces are receive satisfactory supplies in the system.
The meteorological department informe the committee that slightly above normal rains are expect in the next three months (April-June 2023), particularly over the upper half of the country.
Lesser rains are expect during the month of June, and the temperature may remain slightly above normal in most parts of the country.
Gradual rise in temperature will accelerate snow melting in the Northern Areas.
The seasonal rainfall may provide water for crops in the main rain-fed areas while lower parts of the country will remain deficient during the Kharif season.
The FCA appreciated the positive impact of the fertiliser subsidy scheme, which contributed to high yield.
The representatives of Nation Fertiliser Development Company told the committee that due to local production and available stocks, the supply position of Urea will remain comfortable subject to the operationalisation of all Urea Plants at full gas pressure. DAP will also remain at satisfactory levels.
The committee expressed satisfaction over the food security situation in the country.
However, emphasised the need for research and development as well as better coordination to the gains and ensure further progress of the sector.
In terms of financial support, the representative from the State Bank of Pakistan informed the FCA that allocations of institutional credit for agriculture had substantially increased to Rs1,819 billion for 2022-23, and the disbursement up to February 2023 was Rs1,073.5 billion; 59% of the overall annual target of Rs1,819 billion which is 28.5% higher than the disbursement of Rs835.3 billion made during last year.
Overall, the growth in Pakistan’s agriculture sector is a positive development that will have far-reaching impacts on the country’s economy, food security, and rural development. The government’s efforts to incentivise and support farmers are paying off, and it is hoped that this trend continues in the coming years.
Published in The Logical Baat, April 19th, 2023.