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April 17, 2021

Annual wheat demand forecast revised up by 2 million tons

Business

April 17, 2021

LAHORE: The government revised up demand forecast for wheat consumption by two million tons for this year to 29.5 million tons, it was learnt on Friday.

Based on per capita consumption of 115 kg per year, the wheat consumption was calculated after taking into consideration total requirement of the grain while having a realistic view coupled with factoring in strategic reserves and yearly demands of various federating units and institutions.

The revised projection on wheat consumption was shared during the meeting of Federal Committee on Agriculture held on April 8.

Under the fresh assessment, Pakistan will need 29.5 million tons during year 2021 against last year’s requirements of 27.5 million tons.

The major difference in last year’s and latest wheat demand assessment has been calculation of requirement based on 115kg per person per annum for the population of 232.8 million tons in 2021.

Wheat demand for human consumption on population based now stands at 26 million tons including 14 million tons for Punjab, 6 million tons for Sindh, 4.5 million tons for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 1.5 million tons for Balochistan. This important issue was highlighted in these pages last month, in which it was emphasized that poor grain budgeting by the federal ministry and fixation of low wheat production target kept the country off-the track in its quest to meet wheat production according to national requirements.

It was reported that the federal government’s flawed wheat production estimate of 26.78 million tons for 2020-21 would likely bring the country on the verge of yet another grain crisis this year. The faulty estimation would likely slash grain output by 1.5-1.7 million tons against the consolidated yearly requirements.

When repeatedly contacted for about couple of months for getting version on this important issue, the most worrying thing in this regard had been the fact that the Federal Ministry of National Food Security and Research tried to buy time and gave no explanation for the fixation of national wheat production target on the lower side, both against last year’s target as well as yearly grain demand for 2021-22. Most importantly, ministry of food security now has formally added one million tons as strategic reserves in the assessment for year 2021. Regarding estimate about this year’s production, the meeting was informed that provincial crop reporting centers reported the estimated wheat production for 2020-21 at the level of 26.04 million tons. With the addition of leftover stocks of 0.324 million tons, and the estimated production of 26.04 million tons, the total availability of wheat at the start of Food Year (as of May 1) would be at 26.364 million tons against the national consumption of 29.50 million tons, showing a shortfall of almost 03 million tons. However, there are reports anticipating improved wheat yield this year, which may result in 1.5 to two million tons increase in overall production of wheat. Ground reports suggest healthy grain size this year could lead to a jump in per acre yield. However, any damage to standing croup due to inclement weather during harvesting could result in production loss.