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A bumper wheat crop is expected in Pakistan
KARACHI: A bumper wheat crop is expected in the country this season, as Sindh and Punjab - the two largest producers - hope to beat their respective targets after heavy rainfall spells since October.

Top officials in the provincial agricultural ministries of Sindh and Punjab told Daily Times that the recently assessed sowing conditions showed that the cultivation areas are ready to produce more than targeted 20.2 million tonnes of the crop.

“We are hopeful to beat the wheat production target,” said Murtaza Jatoi, advisor to Sindh government on agriculture. “We have reassessed the situation recently and prospects are bright to achieve or even cross the target,” he said.

Concerns over volatile water availability kept haunting the planners early this season but later heavy rains across the country significantly made up for the losses of the Sindh farmers, who were faced with water shortage.

The federal committee on agriculture last year targeted 20.2 million wheat production for current season but shortage of water faded the hopes of meeting the target. However, heavy October downpours blessed the growers across the country. Sindh growers say the sowing target was almost completed and after bumper cotton crop this season, the province is set to achieve extra wheat production.

“We have covered almost 80 percent sowing area so far,” said Qamar-uz-Zaman Shah, president Sindh Chamber of Agriculture. “And our target is 2.5 million tonnes wheat this season but if the same pace of sowing continues, I think we can beat the target.”

He said the Sindh agriculture sector performed much better than the expectations this season as the province had already produced almost three million cotton bales.

The federal government estimated Punjab and Sindh as top wheat producing provinces for the current season and envisaged total 20.2 million tonnes wheat production across the country.

According to the province-wise output target Punjab was projected to produce 16 million tonnes, Sindh 2.5 million tonnes, NWFP one million tonnes, Balochistan 0.6 million tonnes and Azad Jammu Kashmir was targeted to produce one million tonnes for the first time. AJK did not exceed than half a million tonnes ever.

The favourable climate has also lifted hopes of authorities in Punjab, which estimated to sow over 75 of country’s total sowing area on 15.5 million acres out of total 20 million acres wheat cultivation area throughout the country.

“The harvesting is due in April,” said Arshad Khan Lodhi, Punjab minister for agricultural. “It is little early to give exact figures but we are confident to achieve the targeted 16 million tonnes crop.”

He said water availability was source of prime concern in early sowing days but it was covered through winter rains. He said availability of swift loans to the Punjab farmers also helped in continued sowing of the crop.

Wheat production last season remained at 19 million tonnes - almost a million tonnes short of targeted 20 million tonnes. Shortfall in demand and supply pushed the authorities to import 1.5 million tonnes of the commodity, which burdened almost Rs 10 billion on the exchequer.

MGR Archive 13.2.2005
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