Meeting of the Federal Committee on Agriculture was review of Kharif crops and production plan for Rabi (2017-18) was held on under the Chairmanship of Mr. Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research. The meeting had participants from Provincial Agriculture Departments, State Bank of Pakistan, ZTBL, National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC), Pakistan Meteorological Department, Indus River System Authority and senior officers of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research. Chairman PARC, D.G. NARC and heads of Ministry’s attached departments viz., Agri. Policy Institute, Federal Seed Certification & Registration Dept., Pakistan Oilseeds Development Board, Department of Plant Protection, Federal Water Management Cell and Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) also participated in the meeting.
The Committee reviewed the performance of the Kharif crops (2017-18) and deliberated upon production and availability plan for Rabi crops (2017-18). The emphasis of the dialogue was to ensure food security in the country by making the essential food items available at affordable prices as well as ensuring the profitability of the famers. The issue of import substitution and promotion of export of agricultural produce also remained in focus. The Committee thoroughly examined the availability, quality and cost of agricultural inputs for Rabi crops (2017-18).
The Committee was informed that sugarcane production for 2017-18 had been estimated at 81.4 million tons from an area of 1.312 million hectares. The Rice production for 2017-18 was estimated at 7.3 million tons from an area of 2.88 million hectares. The Maize production for 2017-18 was estimated at 5..3 million tons from an area of 1.24 million hectares. It was heartening to note that the country achieved self-sufficiency, rather exportable surplus in major crops by surpassing the targets both in terms of area under cultivation and Production. The committee also pondered upon the production profile of essential minor crops of Rabi season like Gram, Potato, Lentil, Onion, Tomato and chilies to ensure supply demand equilibrium.
The Committee fixed the production target (2017-18) for wheat 26.46 million thousand ton on an area of 8.95 million hectares. The FCA proposed to rationalize the area of wheat and enhancing the production of pulses, oilseed and other high value crops. In order to benefit from available export avenues for potato the Committee agreed to the production target of 3.81 million tons from an area of 0.17 million hectare. The targets for other crops such as gram, lentil, tomato, onion and chilies were also fixed by FCA.
Meteorological department informed that monsoon rains from July to September, 2017 remain 25% below average in the country. Monsoon rains stopped in August and September was dried. It was informed that 10-15% less rain will be expected than the average during October to December, 2017 whereas two to three spells of moderate rainfall are likely in KPK, AJK, GB and North Punjab. Met department informed that temperature will gradually and snow/glacier melt contribution to reservoirs will decline. Keeping in view the expected reduced rainfall the IRSA advisory Committee anticipated short fall of 20% in availability of water in 2017-18.
The said shortfall will be passed on Punjab and to Sindh provinces which are major user of water while KPK and Balochistan will remain exempted from adverse effects of shortages. During the ensuing Rabi season, provinces will be allocated 29.5 MAF of water whereas last year it was 29.7 MAF. It was further anticipated that prevailing weather conditions are not promising and shortage may extend to 25%. However, position will be reviewed in the first week of November, 2017. It was further informed that shortage will be managed accordingly.
The Committee was informed that the availability of wheat and Maize seed would be 35.49. % and 58% respectively of the total seed requirements.
The representative from State Bank of Pakistan informed that allocations of institutional credit for agriculture had substantially increased to Rs. 1001 billion for 2017-18. During the July-August the agri, lending institution have disbursed agri loans 97.6 billion which is 9-7% of annual target of 1001 billion. The Chair emphasized enhanced financial support to small provinces and efficient utilization of the available credit portfolio.
The FCA also noted that the supply of Urea and DAP fertilizers was satisfactory for 2017-18 Kharif Season. The supply of Urea will remain comfortable during Rabi season 2017-18 due to enhanced local production and sufficient stock position. However, availability of DAP may witness slight deficiency for the reason of low local production and import by private sector. Ministry of NFS&R was directed to make preemptive measures for ensuring sufficient availability of all requisite fertilizers at reasonable prices.
The Committee reiterated its advice to PARC and provincial research system for proactive role in variety development & crop diversification, availability of improved seed.