EXPRESS TRIBUNE: Wheat harvest target may be missed

Country: Pakistan
EXPRESS TRIBUNE: Wheat harvest target may be missed
11 March 2024

In Islamabad, Pakistan, concerns are rising over the country's wheat production target for the year, with indications pointing towards a potential shortfall due to various factors, including high energy costs and alleged manipulation in urea prices. Farmers are reportedly facing inflated prices for urea fertilizer, which is crucial for wheat cultivation, leading to difficulties in affording necessary inputs for crop production.

The caretaker government has taken notice of the situation and referred a case against fertiliser manufacturers to the Competition Commission of Pakistan, citing alleged price manipulation. Despite these efforts, the country is expected to produce around 29 million tons of wheat in the current season, falling short of the targeted 32 million tons.

Additionally, concerns are heightened due to anticipated heat waves in the coming weeks, which could further damage wheat crops. Wheat harvesting is set to commence soon, with Punjab expected to contribute the largest share of production followed by Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan.

Mismanagement in urea transportation and seasonal effects have also raised worries about meeting the wheat output target. Moreover, the lack of uniform wheat prices across provinces poses challenges to the state agency responsible for procurement drives.

The federal government has urged provinces to set uniform prices for wheat, but responses from Sindh and Balochistan are still pending. Sindh has already revised its support price for wheat, which may complicate procurement efforts, while Balochistan has set an even higher price, exceeding the agreed-upon rate.

This disparity in wheat prices between provinces could lead to issues in procurement, impacting the livelihoods of common farmers who may not receive fair returns for their produce. The government is urging provinces to reconsider their pricing decisions to ensure stability in the wheat market and support farmers across the country. However, challenges persist as the procurement campaign faces hurdles related to production, hoarding, smuggling, and weather uncertainties.

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Photo credit: Reuters

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