Ongoing Rabi crop season: Figures reveal govt missed wheat sowing target by 3%
By Ijaz Kakakhel
ISLAMABAD: The market figures revealed that the government has missed the wheat sowing target by 2 to 2.5 percent in the ongoing Rabi crop season for the year 2012, it was learnt on Monday.
Last year, the government had achieved 8.9 million hectares wheat sowing target for the year 2011 and the same was considered for the current year 2012. The initial estimates revealed that the wheat sowing target has been missed by 2.5 to 3 percent, which might affect wheat production target set by the government at 25 million tonnes. However, the government expects that final estimates of the wheat sowing might be final next month (February) for the year 2012.
The sources said the government has set 25 million tonnes target. In absence of Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture, the government failed to hold the high power Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) meeting, which was usually held by federal minister for food and agriculture before the Rabi and Kharif seasons. The FCA meeting sets major crops targets, availability of inputs including water, credit facility to farmers for purchase of inputs and many more. But after devolution of process and devolution of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the FCA meeting was not held for the last two seasons. In the FCA meeting, all the four provinces presented their crops estimates for coming seasons and reviewed the crop situation of ongoing season.
It is reported that Pakistan has missed the wheat crop sowing target by 1.8 million acres only in the Punjab province. Such a low wheat sowing target might lead to reduction of wheat production to around 23 million tonnes against the target of 25 million tonnes set for the current year.
Main reasons for missing sowing target are unnecessary delay in sowing; low acreage and high fertilizer prices what badly hurt the wheat production.
The sources also claimed the farmers are confronting severe problems while getting urea fertilizer across the country. On one side there is shortage of urea and on the other side the prices are very high.
Currently, the sources said that urea fertilizer prices are at Rs 1,645 per 50 kilogrammes (kg) bag while last year it was sold at the rate of Rs 800 per 50kg bag. The DAP currently values at Rs 4,000 per 50kg bag, while last year it was Rs 2,000 per 50kg bag. The sources claimed that fertilizer was usually sold in open market on black and the farmers were compelled to pay higher prices.
The farmers are losing interest in wheat because of worsening terms of trade of the crop. In the last one year, the cost of production has gone up by 30 to 40 percent only on the fertilizer and diesel heads.
Practically, it means that the farmers would be suffering a net loss of 20 to 30 percent if compared with last year’s price of wheat. It has simply turned the crop financially unfeasible for farmers.
There has been a great increase in the prices of seeds, electricity and pesticides along with the other input prices, which is why the farmers are reluctant to cultivate wheat. Similarly, the government is not even providing enough subsidies and high wheat support prices to the farmers, which is why the farmers are facing a lot of losses. If the government does not take immediate steps then the country might likely face a wheat production shortfall and the farmers will surely miss out on the wheat sowing target. It is time the government makes an efficient and effective plan to aid the farmers.
Last year, the government set wheat production target of 25 million tonnes but actually achieved 23.87 million tonnes wheat production over 8.9 million hectares sowing areas.
Although the government established the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, but still it is not fully functional and even operational budget was not provided to the ministry. There is no centralised place or ministry where data of all major crops might be compared.