ISLAMABAD: The high urea and DAP prices coupled with shortage is likely to have serious negative impact on agricultural growth as the country could miss the Rabi crops production targets especially, wheat production target set at 28.9 million tons.
This was the crux of a background discussion with various relevant officials and agriculturalist.
They said increase in the prices of urea and the DAP fertiliser will set aside all the positive impacts of the Rabi crops especially wheat; however, they maintained that the current spell of rain will have a positive impact on the crops grown in the arid areas of the country.
The federal government has fixed wheat production target for the Rabi crop season at 28.9 million tons against 27.3 million tons in 2020-21 season.
In Rabi season, farmers grow wheat, gram, lentil (masoor), tobacco, rapseed, barley, mustard, and vegetables like crops.
The current spell of steady rain and snowfall across the country will help moisturize the land, increase natural nitrogen level in soil, which will help increase output of various crops cultivated in the country.
Sources said that small farmers are facing difficulties in getting the urea and DAP fertilizer, which is due to lack of coordination between the federal, provincial and district administrations.
The officials said that despite, the increase in wheat support price, open market prices of the commodity and global situation, the farmers especially, small farmers, which are almost 90 percent of the farming community, therefore, the country is not going to meet the wheat production target and it will remain between 26.5 to 27 million tons.
According to officials of the Ministry of National Food Security and farmers, a two million tons shortfall in wheat output will force the country to spend an estimated $556 million dollars on wheat imports, considering the current global commodity price of $278 per ton.
Mohammad Farhan Rao, a farmer from district Bahawalpur, while talking to this correspondent by phone said that there, the urea and DAP shortage has made the situation unfavourable for wheat cultivation, adding that urea is available at Rs2,400 to Rs2,700 per bag in the market against the government fixed rate of Rs1,760.The dealers are selling DAP fertiliser at Rs9,500against the government fixed rate of Rs8,200 per bag.
He said that both the fertilisers are a must for saving wheat crop and improving its productivity. The growers fear an artificial shortage of urea and DAP fertilisers and their black-marketing, which continues unabated, may force the country to spend $1 billion on wheat imports this year.
“We are paying huge bill of importing wheat despite, the fact we have a capacity to produce more for domestic consumption as well as may export extra to earn enough income,” Rao said. Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman Agri Forum Pakistan, while commenting on the matter said that wheat production target of 29 million tons in the country was achievable, had the government took appropriate steps at the right time but now it is not possible as in majority of the country, wheat sowing time has passed.
He said that dealers have a huge stock of fertilisers but they are not selling on the government fixed prices because the relevant officials are not taking serious action.
He said that recently, the Punjab government announced launching a crackdown on fertiliser hoarders and profiteers to protect the interest of the farmers but practically, no serious step was taken.
He said that Pakistan was not only producing wheat for local consumption but Afghanistan, parts of Iran, and some central Asian states are also totally relying on Pakistan’s wheat; therefore, federal and provincial governments must provide sufficient incentives to the local farmers.
He said that provision of Rs100 million subsidies to farmers will help save at least $4 billion spending on food items imports.
Talking to Business Recorder, Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) Dr Ghulam Mohammad Ali said that the ongoing rain spell and snow fall will help increase water storage in arid areas of Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Pothohar region, Cholistan region, Balochistan, and arid parts of Sindh province.
He said that it will also help increase the fodder production for the cattle, as a result livestock production will grow, which is one of the most critical part of the agriculture growth.
He said that the PARC and the NARC have developed new varieties of ginger, rice, and wheat seeds having the capacity to increase the per acre yield.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021