Bumper wheat crop but…



REGARDLESS of unprecedented floods of last year because of which wheat could not be cultivated in some areas as well as the hailstorm that recently damaged the crop, especially in the areas of Punjab province, it is a matter of great satisfaction to learn from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that the country has registered a bumper wheat crop of 27.5 million metric tons. Presiding over a meeting in Lahore, Shehbaz Sharif attributed this what he stated record production to government’s efforts, timely decisions, provision of quality seed, uninterrupted supply of fertilizers and Kissan package.

Whilst we really appreciate the efforts undertaken by the government to enhance wheat production but it is yet to be seen whether this year’s production will be enough to meet domestic requirements. According to some estimates the country requires close to thirty million metric tonnes to feed its people. This does not include one million tonnes of seed required for the next plantation as well as staple food requirements of Afghan refugees. Then we also largely meet the wheat requirements of Afghanistan. Hence, we understand that we will have to spend foreign exchange to import the wheat to ensure its uninterrupted supply in the country. At this point in time, it is however important that the wheat is procured in a timely manner from the farmers. Since the crop has been good, therefore, the farmers will also offer their previous year’s stocks for sale.  In fact we can minimize wheat imports this year if these carry our stocks are purchased from the farmers which will be more willing to sell them because of their storage issues.  Having said so, we still have a long way to go to really exploit the full potential in wheat production. We have fertile land and by brining more area under cultivation, we really can double our wheat production in a matter of a few years. Doing so will enable us to once again become a wheat exporting country. Necessary interventions need to be made especially the small farmers should be fully facilitated in order to enhance the agri production and ensure food security.