25 million tonnes wheat target set for 2010
* Govt plans to launch ‘Produce More Wheat’ campaign to encourage wheat farmers
* Gondal urges banks to give loans to new farmers
By Ijaz Kakakhel
ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to launch a “Produce More Wheat” campaign for the 2009-10 Rabi season to increase wheat production and achieve the target yield of 25 million tonnes required for self-sufficiency.
Addressing a press conference after the 91st Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) meeting on Monday, Federal Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal said the 25 million tonne target would be achieved by plantation on 8.61 million hectares of land. He said a special strategy had been devised to achieve this target.
According to an official present at the FCA meeting, wheat production in some areas currently stands at 45-50 maunds per acre, while in other areas the production is only 15 maunds per acre. He said if the issue were properly addressed, the government could easily obtain an additional 3 million tonnes of wheat.
New farmers: Gondal told reporters steps had been taken for the provision of certified wheat seeds and fertilizers. He said the government had increased loan facilities for farmers and added more irrigation water. Officials said the FCA had asked the State Bank of Pakistan to introduce uniformity in the interest rate for agriculture loans. During the meeting, the agriculture minister emphasises the provision of agriculture credit to new farmers.
The FCA also fixed gram target at 0.749 million tonnes over 1.002 million hectares in Rabi 2009-10. The potato target was fixed at 2.749 million tonnes over 0.148 million hectares and the onion target was set at 1.902 million tonnes over 0.243 million hectares.
Gondal said the government would achieve all the Rabi crop targets because the inputs, including water, urea fertilizer and agriculture credit, were at comfortable levels. He said 26 million-acre feet (MAF) of water would be available for this year’s Rabi season. However, he added, the quantity of water might increase/decrease depending on the rainfall.
The meeting was also informed that the sugarcane and cotton crops of Kharif season 2008-09 had failed to achieve their target. They said initial estimates showed cotton production would be around 12.1 million bales against the target of 13.36 million bales. The sugarcane production, meanwhile, remained at 48 million tonnes against the target of 56.5 million tonnes. The minister said the sugar mills owners’ failure to pay the growers in time had led to the sugarcane shortage.
In the Kharif season, rice production remained at 6.4 million tonnes against the target of 5.949 million tonnes. The production of maize remained at 3.34 million tonnes against a target of 3.414 million tonnes.