The government is likely to miss the GDP growth target for the current fiscal year with a considerable margin due to lower than estimated growth in agriculture sector. Sources on condition of anonymity told Business Recorder that 5.5 percent GDP growth for the current fiscal year based on 3.8 percent growth in the agriculture sector, 6.4 percent in the industrial sector and 5.7 percent in the services sector was very ambitious and unlikely to be achieved.
All the estimates so far received from the provincial governments suggest that the growth of agriculture would be considerably lower than the target set in the budget for the current fiscal year. Farm output growth would not be higher than 2.5 percent due to lower than projected production of cotton and wheat and this is an extremely optimistic estimate, sources maintained adding agriculture sector growth has not been over 2 percent during the past 5 years.
Sources further stated that wheat production is expected to be 25.5 million tons against the target of 26 million tons for the current fiscal year, as wheat crop especially in rain-fed areas suffered badly at germination stage due to drought conditions and consequently 20 to 35 percent lower production is expected in rain-fed areas which contribute around 1.6 million tons per year to the total production.
According to an official document of Ministry of National Food Security and Research, wheat crop was cultivated over an area of 8.8 million hectares against the set target of 9.1 million hectares owing to drought conditions in early Rabi season.
The government had estimated 26 million tons of wheat production for Rabi crops 2016-17 with an estimated 19.51 million tons production by Punjab, followed by 4.2 million tons by Sindh, 1.4 million tons by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 0.9 million tons by Balochistan.
The cotton production is expected to be around 10.6 million bales against the projected target of 14.1 million bales because some cotton areas was substituted by sugarcane crop in addition to adverse weather conditions, less sowing due to low cotton price in 2015-16, and usage of uncertified seeds.
Federal Committee on Cotton (FCC) presided over by Commissioner Ministry of Textile Industry held on April 2, 2017 expressed concerns over lower production of cotton in the current fiscal year and unanimously decided that Punjab will have to cover 2.429 million hectares to produce 10 million cotton bales, Sindh will have to cover 0.650 million hectares to produce 4 million cotton bales, Balochistan will have to cover 0.038 million hectares and produce 0.038 million bales and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have to sow cotton on 0.001 million hectares to produce 0.002 million bales of cotton.
The production of sugarcane is estimated at 71.71 million tons against the target of 60 million tons with Punjab contributing 47.959 million tons, followed by 18.159 million tons in Sindh and 5.592 millions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.