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April 20, 2019

Ministry denies food insecurity on rain-related crop damages

Business

April 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan on Friday ruled out any likelihood of food insecurity following rainfalls that damaged standing crops.

“The damage caused to standing crops due to heavy rains is moderate and there is no likelihood of food insecurity or emergency situation,” Sultan said. “The losses suffered by the farmers are indeed painful news.”

Food minister said the government is doing its best to estimate the damage and monitory and human losses. “Relief would soon be announced for the affected farmers.”

The ministry of national food security is in complete liaison with the provincial agriculture departments for updates regarding the affected villages and subsequent losses to crops due to recent rains, especially in the Punjab.

The Punjab agriculture department, however, said there is no threat to food security in the country or wheat shortage and the damage to wheat, maize and gram is moderate and does not indicate any shortage.

“Moreover, the speculations regarding the wheat shortage is not right,” the food ministry said in a statement.

Wheat production, as on April 7, 2019, was estimated at 25.16 million tons from an area of 8.83 million hectares. Coupled with the last year’s leftover stock of three million tons, the total availability of wheat will be about 28.16 million tons. Gram production was estimated at 439,000 tons from 943,700 hectares.

The latest report regarding crop-wise affected areas in the Punjab showed that the loss and damage occurred in wheat, gram and maize crops is of mild to moderate nature.

The food ministry is also collecting data for other minor crops and Punjab agriculture department is working to reach out to all possible areas to gauge the losses. “The data from other provinces is yet to be received and a letter to that affect is delivered to relative provincial departments,” the ministry said.

Minister Sultan said the government stands by the farmers and there should not be any uncertainty among them in face of the calamity.

“Our government will provide every possible relief to affected farmers,” he said. “He will visit the affected areas and it was also directed by Prime Minister that no effort must be spared until the relief is provided to affectees.”

The met department is directed to remain vigilant and maintain steady liaison with provincial agriculture departments to communicate timely weather reports to farmers.

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