ISLAMABAD: The government was betting on a bumper wheat crop amid favourable weather conditions, with Punjab aiming to surpass its sowing target of 16.2 million acres by 600,000 acres to harvest more grains, top agriculture officials said on Friday.
On Friday, Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, chaired the meeting of wheat review committee to asses the crop sowing position of 2021-2022 season.
Hussain Jahania Gardezi, Agriculture Minister of Punjab, and representatives of the other provinces attended the meeting. Gardezi informed the meeting that Punjab, the top grain producing province of all, was not only set to achieve its sowing target but was also planning to increase it to 16.8 million acres.
Of the total area under wheat in Pakistan, more than 70 percent is being cultivated in Punjab.
Wheat is the main Rabi crop, accounts for 9.2 percent of the value-added in agriculture and 1.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) on October 7, 2021 had fixed the wheat production target at 28.89 million tonnes for 2021-22 compared to 22.76 million set acres previously.
Punjab food minister said the province will surpass its sowing targets, but water availability was an ongoing limiting factor. “Punjab is working on improving its track and trace system for seeds,” Gardezi said while briefing the meeting.
Sindh that has so far achieved 76 percent of its over 2.97 million acres of wheat sowing target, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa completed 75 percent of the assigned target of 2.2 million acres, while Balochistan has sown wheat on 68 percent of the targeted area of 1.36 million acres.
During last Rabi season (2020-21), wheat production crossed the target of 27 million tonnes and achieved 27.5 million tonnes mark.
A month earlier, the government announced minimum support price (MSP) of Rs1,950/40kg for wheat crop 2021-22, up Rs150 from earlier price of Rs1,800/40kg.
Pakistan Meteorological Department representative Syed Mushtaq informed
the committee that lower than normal rainfall was expected in December and January, which would become normal in February.
Imam said the sowing was the most critical stage for wheat crop and any issues arising during that time should be timely catered in order for the cultivation to stay on track.
He further said that to ensure proper communication between all stakeholders and Indus River System Authority (IRSA) and National Fertiliser Development Centre (NFDC) would also be made part of the wheat review committee.
“Some parameters have been established to ensure that wheat crop sowing is monitored effectively,” the minister said.
These parameters, he said, included but were not limited to wheat sowing area and completion percentage of the assigned target, sowing method (drilling or broadcasting), quantum of fertiliser used during sowing practices (DAP and urea), fertiliser offtake, certified seeds, seed varieties used during sowing (old or new rust tolerant wheat varieties), availability status of herbicides and fertilizer, pricing status etc.
The federal minister ensured all the participants that necessary steps would immediately be taken to ensure factors
of production were available in ample supply.
The Punjab agriculture minister briefed the meeting the government of Punjab had conducted numerous seminars to create awareness in addition to partnering with five agricultural universities of Punjab to mobilise agricultural
students to ensure proper sowing of wheat seeds.
Afaq Ahmed, DG Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department, Abdul Kareem, DG Agriculture Policy Institute (API), and Imtiaz Ali Gopang, Federal Food Security Commissioner, also were present at the meeting.