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Kharif crop targets set amid irrigation water shortage

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) on Tuesday set production targets of major Kharif crops including cotton and sugarcane.

Target for cotton production has been set at 14.37 million bales; sugarcane at 68.157m tonnes, rice at 6.931m tonnes, and maize at 5.3m tonnes.

The target for cotton would be achieved from an area of 2.955m hectares whereas the target for rice would be achieved from over 2.805m hectares.

The crops are threatened by the shortage of irrigation water during June to September period.

Among other Kharif crops, the target of mung has been set at 120,600 tonnes, mash at 11,300 tonnes, chilies at 117,900 tonnes, and tomato at 166,700 tonnes.

This is the first time the FCA has fixed the target for cotton production. The subject of cotton was previously held by the Ministry of Textile and has now been transferred to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research under a notification issued by the government.

Likewise, the National Fertiliser Develo­pment Centre, previously administered by the Planning Commission has also been moved to the national food security ministry.

Explaining the decisions taken at the FCA meeting, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan told a news conference that the availability of water in canal heads will remain 62.03m acres feet (MAF) as against average usage of 69.4MAF.

“There will be 33 per cent shortage of water in early Kharif and 11pc in later period. At present all the provinces are getting their indented supplies in the system,” he said.

Pakistan Meteorological Department informed the meeting that winter snow cover is 20-25pc less than long-term average. However, the rainfall during April-June 2018 will be less than normal while the temperature is expected to remain one to two centigrade warmer than the normal.

The committee was informed that the availability of rice and maize seeds will be 85pc and 80pc respectively of the total seed requirements.

The allocation of institutional credit for agriculture had substantially increased to Rs1,001 billion for 2017-18 and the disbursement up to February this year was Rs570bn which is 57pc of overall annual target of Rs1,001bn. This is 39.4pc higher than the disbursement of Rs409bn made during last year.

The FCA appreciated the positive impact of fertiliser subsidy scheme which contributed to high yield. It was noted that the supply of urea and DAP fertilisers was satisfactory during 2017-18 Rabi season. Due to local production and available stock, the supply position of urea will remain comfortable subject to uninterrupted supply of natural gas to fertiliser manufacturing plants.

Mr Bosan said that three fertiliser plants have been closed down due to shortage of gas. If gas is provided to Pak-Arab, Dawood Hercules and Agri-Tech, fertiliser shortage would be eliminated, he said.

About the estimated wheat production from the current Rabi season, the minister stated that wheat production this year is expected to be 25.41m tonnes from an area of 8.76m hectares. Coupled with last year’s left over stock of one million tonnes, the total availability of wheat will be about 26.41m tonnes which is well over and above the total national requirements.

About maize, the minister expected a good crop this year saying that cultivation of maize has increased this year. Country has achieved record production of potato, onion and tomato this year, he added.