ISLAMABAD: The overall prospects for the 2017 wheat production are positive, with a current forecast of FAO pointing to an output of 25.1 million tonnes.
This is slightly below last year’s bumper level but above the five-year average. The small decrease is the result of a contraction in planting in the rain-fed (barani) producing areas which accounts for only ten per cent of the national output, following dry conditions during the planting period from Sept-Dec 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations said in a report on Pakistan published on Thursday.
Wheat harvest in Sindh is coming to an end but it will continue till mid-June in Northern Punjab.
Meanwhile the Ministry of National Food Security and Research expects wheat production to exceed the target of 26.1m tonnes over an area of 22.2m acres.
Rain-fed areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan were the most affected by dry weather. However, adequate water supplies in the irrigated areas, coupled with the increased use of fertilisers and herbicides, boosted overall yield prospects and partly offset the decrease in plantings.
Planting of 2017’s main ‘kharif’ crop — maize — is currently underway in the main growing areas of Punjab and Sindh. The total area planted to maize this year is officially forecast at 1.2m hectares, an increase of 5pc compared to the 2016 high level in response to sustained demand from the feed industry.
Assuming good weather conditions, FAO tentatively forecasts the 2017 maize production at 5.5m tonnes.
FAO preliminary forecast for this year’s rice output is 10.3 million tonnes, a three percent recovery from last year’s above-average level, assuming that plantings return closer to average after 2016’s reduced levels, supported by recoveries in local quotations.
FAO forecasts Pakistan’s rice exports in calendar year 2017 at 3.9m tonnes, 4pc below last year’s high level but remaining above the five-year average. The year-on-year decline reflects reduced exportable availabilities, following the smaller crop obtained in 2016.
Wheat exports in the 2016-17 marketing year during May to April are estimated to have increased by 13pc from the previous year’s low level to 850,000 tonnes, in line with the 2016 overall good output and large carryover stocks.
Prices of wheat grain and wheat flour, the country’s main staples, declined in most markets in April when the new supplies from the 2017 harvest started to reach the markets. Overall, prices were above their year-earlier levels.