High Powered Federal Committee on Agriculture holds second biannual meeting

Islamabad, April 17, 2019 (PPI-OT): The High Powered Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) mandated to oversee strategic measures for ensuring food security in the country, held its second biannual meeting on 17th April, 2018 under the chairmanship of Mr. Sahibzada Muhammad Mahboob Sultan, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research. Besides participations of senior officers of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the meeting was attended by the Provincial Agriculture Departments, State Bank of Pakistan, ZTBL, National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC), Pakistan Meteorological Department, Indus River System Authority and member, Food Security and Climate Change of Planning Commission of Pakistan. 2. While reviewing the performance of the Rabi crops (2018-19), the Committee observed that wheat production for 2018-19 is estimated as on April 7, 2019 is 25.16 million tons from an area of 8.83 million hectares.

Coupled with the last year’s left over stock of 3.0 million tons, the total availability of wheat will be about 28.16 million tons which is well over and above the total national requirements. The committee was informed that the Gram production for 2018-19 has been estimated at 439.0 thousand tons from an area of 943.7 thousand hectares. The committee also discussed the production achievements of other essential crops like Lentil, Potato, Onion and Tomato. 3. The FCA held detailed deliberations over the production targets for essential Kharif crops 2019-20 and decided to fix 15.0 million bales of cotton production target from an area of land 2895 thousand ha whereas fix 7433 thousand tons production target for Rice over 2880 thousand ha of land.

The targets for other crops such as Maize, Mung, Mash and Chillies were also fixed. The Committee fixed the production target (2019-20) of sugar cane at 68583.0 thousand ton overran area of 1183.9 thousand hectares. 4. Pondering over the availability of agricultural inputs for Kharif crops (2019-20), the committee was informed that sufficient water will be available in reservoirs. For the year 2019-20, the water availability in canals head will remain 108.67 million acres feet (MAF) as against last year which was 88.04 MAF. At present all the provinces are getting their satisfactory supplies in the system. 5. Meteorological department informed that overall normal to slightly above normal rainfalls are likely to occur all over the country during the month of May. However, based on gradual increase in air temperatures effective use of available water stocks is recommended.

The average temperature is likely to remain above normal throughout the country during the period. The expected rise in temperature during the next two months is approximately 1-2oC. The rise in temperature will accelerate the snowmelt in the Northern areas and subsequent increase in runoff in upper Indus region. Based on seasonal rise in air temperatures, the prevailing drought conditions over Tharparker region of Sindh may also sustain with variable intensity during the months of April-May 2019. 6 The Committee was informed that the availability of Rice and Maize seed will remain higher than the total seed requirement which would be 121.28% and 112.83% respectively.

The representative from State Bank of Pakistan informed that allocations of institutional credit for agriculture had substantially increased to Rs.1250 billion for 2018-19 and the disbursement up Feb-2019 is Rs: 701.6 billion which is 56.1% of overall annual target of 1250 billion which is 23.1% higher than the disbursement of 570.9 billion made during last year. 7. The FCA appreciated the positive impact of fertilizer subsidy scheme which contributed to high yield and noted that the supply of Urea and DAP fertilizers was satisfactory for 2018-19 Rabi Season.

Due to local production and available stocks, the supply position of Urea will remain comfortable and DAP will also remain on satisfactory levels. 8. The committee was informed that that the new government is trying its level best to help the farmers by taking various actions to uplift agriculture like: i. The Government has imposed agriculture emergency with around Rs. 290 billion projects for promoting agriculture growth in the next four years. 9. In the end, the Committee expressed satisfaction over the food security situation in the country however, emphasized the need for research and development as well as better coordination to consolidate the gains and ensure further progress of the sector.

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