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October 10, 2020

Food minister estimates wheat shortfall at 1.6mln tons

Business

October 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is expected to produce 25.2 million tons of wheat this year with shortfall estimated at 1.6 million tons, food security minister said on Friday.

Minister Fakhar Imam said wheat yields are estimated at 25.2 million tons with share of Punjab at 2.9 million tons, Sindh (1.3 million tons), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (84,567 tons) and Balochistan (65,082 tons).

Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation has 668,041 tons. There is a carry forward stock of 602,000 tons. Total wheat stock in the country is 5.1 million tons.

“The perception of magnified figure of wheat shortfall is fallacious,” he said during a meeting with Pakistan Flour Mills Association Chairman Asim Raza.

Imam said 840,000 tons of wheat will be imported by public sector and 1.1 million tons by private sector till January.

Meanwhile, the food security minister said Pakistan has policy recommendations for genetic improvement of dairy cattle through import of live animals, germplasm and embryos. Provincial Dairy Development Department have approved these polices and acts from respective corners, he said addressing a webinar on agriculture and energy sector coordination arranged by Board of Investment.

The minister said office of the animal husbandry commissioner deals with the certification of animal import. Planning Commission and provincial livestock and dairy development departments deal with the concrete development plans for livestock improvement that may require global support.

The minister said the country has 34 state of the art abattoirs meant for export of halal meat and meat products. The major importing countries are UAE, Saudi Arab, Kuwait and Afghanistan. The total exports of livestock sector during 2018/19 amounted to Rs94.9 billion showing an increase of 17.8 percent over 2017/18.

The major items exported were tanned hides and skins, meat and meat products, animal feed and animal products. Pakistan exported 53,400 tons of meat during the year 2019/20.

“Unfortunately, Pakistan has no beef breed however, plans are underway to develop and or to import beef breeds in Pakistan to promote beef production as well,” said the minister.

Imam enquired that if any French company will show interest in investment for making cheese it will be a big breakthrough for dairy industry.

On a question about billion tree program, he said the project is under the ministry of climate change.

The billion tree tsunami was launched in 2014 by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as a response to the challenge of global warming. The project would restore 350,000 hectares of forests by 2030 and degraded land to surpass Bonn challenge commitment.

Another project that started in 2015 with Rs22 billion brought 150,000 hectares of additional land under forests.

The minister said most of the horticulture produce is consumed domestically, and its domestic demand is increasing with the growing population and rising disposable incomes.

“Approximately, 91 percent fruits are consumed locally, 6 percent exported, and the remaining 3 percent processed into value added products such as pulps, juice, concentrates, frozen and preserved products including drinks, jams, jellies and pickles,” he said.