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April 13, 2021

Pakistan poised for mammoth wheat production

LAHORE: Latest reports from fields suggest an upsurge in wheat production, which may turn out to be a blessing for the country and make it self-sufficient in the grain. Wheat production this year may surpass previous records with a big margin, crossing 28.75 million tons, two million tons more than the previous high of 26.67 million tons in 2016/17, according to a survey conducted by The News.

If this feat is achieved, Pakistan may not require further imports at least in considerable quantities. Owing to last two back-to-back failures of crops, Pakistan had to import over two million tons during the last one year to meet shortfall in grain production. These reports are, however, in complete contrast to what federal government projected about the grain output. While reviewing performance of the rabi crops (2020/21) last week, the Federal Committee on Agricutlure estimated wheat production at 26.04 million tons, showing an increase of 1.7 percent over the last year.

In Punjab, having share of around 75 percent in total production, wheat harvest may hover around 21.75 million this year, if present trend in early harvesting is something to go by. Official circles also lately voiced a significant upsurge in wheat output, at least in the Punjab.

According to a senior official of provincial Agriculture Department, more than 35 maund (40kg each) per acre average output is recorded in the crop cut samples. This is more than the 30 maunds average per acre output of wheat in the province. To have an idea about how much total production could increase with even a slight increase in per acre yield, an official said, provincial production jumped around 600,000 tons with one maund per acre increase in the production if present area under cultivation is taken into account. The official was optimistic about production close to 21.75 million tons in the province against the previous high of 20.46 million tons achieved in 2016/17. Last year, Punjab’s output was 19.40 million tons.

Against the official estimates of more than 33 maunds per acre, farmers seem more upbeat about harvesting much greater output of wheat in 2020/21 season. “We have never heard so consistently about 40-45 maunds per acre yield by so many growers this year,” said Ibrahim Mughal, chairman of Agri-Forum Pakistan. The conducive temperature for most period of crop, close to no rains which led to virtually no attach of rust due to low humidity and much of early sowing brought a synergy of three factors for cultivation of a super healthy crop this year, he observed. In districts like Rahim Yar Khan, Muzaffargarh and Layyah, many farmers even reported 50-55 maund per acre yield of wheat.

“Safely, we may see at least 1.5 million tons of more production than the initial estimates,” Mughal said. Procurement target by public sector department should be met at all cost so farmers could be able to get due share of their produce. Pakistan Kissan Ittehad also predicted one of the greatest jumps in wheat production in ongoing season, pegging national production at over 28.5 million tons.

Many farmers viewed that they are harvesting about 10 maunds per acer greater crop size this year compared with the last year. Reports of achieving 35 to 40 maunds per acre of wheat is normal nowadays. There could be a significant jump in yield of crop due to multiple factors. Increase in wheat support price gave an impetus to wheat plantation in the country. Early sowing and subsequent unprecedented old nights and cool days for almost three months gave an ample time for growth of plant and grain development.