Grid Pin, Opinions

Agriculture sector showing mixed trends

KARACHI: The country’s major crops have shown significant increases in yield per hectare during the last four years.

The State Bank of Pakistan’s “Statistical Bulletin – January 2019” reported that the yield per hectare of wheat grew to 2,917kg per hectare in 2017-18, from 2,762kg –– an additional 155kg per hectare over the period.

However, in FY18, the yield of wheat recorded a drop from last year, falling by 56kg per hectare.

Recently, the government allowed exporting wheat from the country –– currently in surplus –– but refused to offer subsidies since local prices of the crop exceed global levels. Total wheat production in 2017-18 stood at 25.507 million tonnes.

Major crops record high yields

Similarly, rice production also didn’t show any sign of water crisis (the crop requires the highest amount of water for cultivation) as the yield per hectare went up to 2,569kg in 2017-18, from 2,422kg per hectare in 2014-15 –– an increase of 147kg per hectare during the last four years.

The area under production, however, only only showed a marginal growth, edging up to 7.449m tonnes in 2017-18 versus 7.003m tonnes in 2014-15.

However, the export of rice fetched significantly higher amount. The country earned $1.933 billion through the crop’s export in FY18 as against $1.575bn recorded in FY15.

Sugarcane –– another water-heavy crop –– witnessed growth in both the area under cultivation as well as the yield per hectare over the last four years.

The yield per hectare of sugarcane jumped to 61,197kg in 2017-18 from 55,062kg in 2014-15 –– representing an addition of 6,135kg per hectare.

This significant surge in area and yield created glut of sugar in the country and the exporters found it difficult to export as the sugar prices were lower in the international market. As a result, the government allowed a total of 1.1m tones of sugar export but the exporters are demanding subsidies to cover up losses expected from foreign sales.

Despite the glut, however, the area under cultivation increased by 201,000 hectares to 1.342m hectares in 2017-18. Cotton also recorded an upward trajectory over the last three years but could not touch the highest yield per hectare recorded in 2014-15. The crop’s yield per hectare in 2017-18 was 752kg, falling short of 802kg in 2014-15.

The yield had dipped to 581kd per hectare in 2015-16 before recovering again in FY18.

Shahid Iqbal