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March 29, 2020

Food supply

Opinion

March 29, 2020

Wheat: We consume an average of 115 kg of wheat per capita per year for a total of 25 million tons a year. We produced 25.6 million tons last year and the target for this year is 27 million tons. Harvesting begins in March and lasts till July (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan).

For the record, Pakistan is the eighth largest wheat producing country in the world (after China, India, Russia, US, France, Canada and Germany). This year, wheat area has not changed much from last year but the yellow rust did attack the standing wheat crop in several districts in southern Punjab. As per best estimates, we will most probably harvest around 25 million to 26 million tons against a target of 27 million tons. We have enough wheat for all of us to consume for the following year. Conclusion: No need to stock up.

Sugar: We consume an average of 25 kg of sugar per capita per year for a total of 5.4 million tons a year. In MY2018 (marketing year), we produced 6.5 million tons of sugar. In MY2019, cultivated land declined by 12 percent and sugar production declined by 16 percent.

In MY2019/20, the forecast stands at 5.2 million tons. Pakistan is the sixth largest sugar producing country (after Brazil, India, China, Thailand and US). For the record, over the past eight years, sugar production in Pakistan has exceeded demand. We have almost enough sugar for all of us to consume for the following year. Conclusion: No need to stock up.

Poultry: We consume an average of 80 eggs per person per year and produce close to 18 million eggs per year (production exceeds demand). We consume an average of 7 kg of chicken meat per person per year and produce close to 1,500 million kilograms of chicken meat a year. We have enough eggs and we have enough chicken meat in our country. Conclusion: No need to stock up.

Milk: We are the fourth largest raw milk producing country in the world with average per capita consumption of around 119 liters per year for a total of 26 billion liters. Our yield per cow is low and a number of other countries consume a lot more milk than we do but as things stand right now we are self-sufficient in milk. Conclusion: No need to stock up.

Rice: We consume an average of around 13 kilograms of rice per capita per year for a total of 3 million tons while we produce around 7.5 million tons of rice a year (rice exports hit a record of 4.5 million tons). Obviously, no need to stock up.

Cooking oil: We import over a million tons of palm oil a year. For the record, the global per capita average is around 4 kilograms a year while we end up consuming two to three times that average. Yes, palm oil has a “high saturated fat content which can be harmful to cardiovascular health.”

Pulses: We are among the top ten importers of pulses in the world spending over a hundred billion a year. Two things: price of pulses are falling in the international market and our government will be waiving taxes. Conclusion: Do not stock up.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh