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ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday set wheat production target at 26.78 million tons for Rabi season 2020-2021 from an area of 9.16 million hectares of land. The decision to this effect was taken in Federal Committee Agriculture (FCA) for Rabi season 2020-21 presided over by Syed Fakhr Imam, Federal Minister for Food Security and Research.

The committee reviewed the performance of the Kharif crops (2019-2020) and set production targets Rabi crops (2020-2021). He said that the meeting also fixed production targets for other crops including grams at 560 thousand tons from an area of 988.2 thousands hectares, 8.9 thousand tons lentil from an area of 17.1 thousand hectares, 4,871.0 thousand tons of potato from an area of 191.6 thousand hectares, 2,220 thousand tons of onion from an area of 165.0 thousand hectares, and 625 thousand tons of tomatoes from an area of 52.0 thousand hectares for Rabi season.

The committee also reviewed the performance of Kharif crops for 2020-2021 including sugarcane, rice, maize, chilies, and moong. The official said that the sugarcane production for 2020-2021 was estimated at 75.64 million tons from an area of 1.17 million hectares, showing an increase of 12.97 percent and 13.96 percent in area and production respectively over the last year. The rice production for 2020-21 is estimated at 8.18 million tons from an area of 3.3 million hectares showing an increase of 11.43 percent and 10.39 percent in area and production respectively as compared to the last year. He said that maize production for 2020-21 is estimated at 7.9 million tons from an area of 1.3 million hectares.

The production of maize remained stable during the year. The moong production for 2020-21 is estimated at 208.63 thousand tons from an area of 228.8 thousand hectares showing an increase of 22.54 percent and 57.13 percent in area and production respectively over the last year.

This increase in production saved more than 91.2 million dollars as import substitute, he said. The meeting also discussed seed availability, and the meeting was informed that certified seed availability for the Rabi crop will remain satisfactory. The meeting was also informed that Rabi crop will face water shortfall of 10 percent.

During the Rabi season provinces are allocated 33.09 MAF water and prevailing weather condition are supportive, the meeting was further informed. Representatives of the Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) informed the meeting that above normal rainfall overall 41 percent reported across the country in July to September 2020, however, Sindh province received 100 percent above more rains, whereas Balochistan 74 percent, Punjab 16 percent, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 8 percent, and Gilgt-Baltistan received 3q6 percent above normal rains. Sufficient amount of soil moisture is available for sowing of Rabi crops.

According to weather outlook for the period of October to December 2020 suggests that amount of rainfall will be below normal in agricultural plains of all the provinces. The meeting also informed that during financial year 2019-2020 the agri-lending banks/institutions disbursed Rs1,215 billion, which was 90 percent of the actual target of 1,350 billion and 3.5 percent higher than the disbursement of Rs1,174 billion made during the financial year 2018-19.

During the meeting, Imam said that the prime minister was giving priority to agriculture sector. Acquisition of modern agricultural technology, supply of better seeds, balanced use of fertilisers are mandatory for achieving higher yields and targets, he said.

He said that cotton production had declined in the country due to ball warm and white fly. The minimum support price (MSP) of wheat will be decided next week, and fertiliser will be subsidised. We are in dire need of increasing wheat production, he said.

The meeting was also attended by the representatives of provincial agriculture departments, Irsa, PMD, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL), National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC), Agriculture Policy Institute (API), Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department, Department of Plant Protection (DPP), Federal Water Management, Pakistan Oil Seed Board, Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Cooperation, senior official of the MNFS&R, and chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020