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ISLAMABAD: Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MoNFS&R) has proposed import of three million metric tons (MMT) of wheat fearing upto 10 percent shortfall in production due to drought and low fertilizer offtake, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

The Ministry argues that in case wheat is not imported from Russia on G2G due to sanctions on Russia, TCP may be allowed to import the entire quantity of 3.00 MMT of wheat through international tendering, the sources added.

Sharing the details, sources said, National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) in its meeting held on January 26, 2022 directed that MNFS&R, in consultation with PASSCO worked out a plan to import 0.50 MMT of wheat for building strategic reserves to avoid any untoward situation before the arrival of fresh produce.

Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) in its meeting held on October 7, 2021 fixed wheat production target at 28.89 MMT from an area of 22.758 million acres.

According to MoNFS&R, due to drought conditions during November and December, 2021, KP and Balochistan did not achieve their sowing targets. Resultantly, sowing shortfall of two percent was reported at the national level. However, in Jan, 2022 water availability improved by eight percent and overall irrigation shortfall was reduced to 20 percent.

Wheat shortfall: timely imports are key!

The sources maintained that due to drought, low fertilizer offtake i.e. DAP 9.9 percent less offtake and urea 7.7 percent less offtake, forecasting of normal rainfall in the month of March, 2022, high cost of agricultural inputs and weather pattern, Punjab has reported its initial observations/estimates of wheat production showed a shortfall of 6.56 percent as compared to the allocated production target of 16.21 MMT.

MNFS&R has made the hypothetic analysis on the basis of contributing factors according to which wheat production targets of 28.89 MMT may face three shortfall scenarios: @ 6 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent which shows production estimates at the level of 27.15 MMT, 26.57 MMT and 26.00 MMT, respectively.

According to MNFS&R public sector, including PASSCO and Provincial Food Departments have reported that they would be left with carry-forward stocks of 1.556 MMT at the start of new Food Year as on May 01, 2022.

The national wheat requirement for the Food Year 2022-23 is estimated at 30.79 MMT, including a quantity of 2 MMT of strategic reserves, as the quantity was enhanced from the existing 1 MMT approved by the NPMC meeting in its meeting held on May 03, 2021.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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