LAHORE - The recent rain spell will have a positive impact on all major agriculture Rabi crops including wheat, gram and fodder in arid as well as irrigated areas, removing the fear of water shortage following long dry weather in December last year.

Agricultural experts said the countrywide rains and snowfall in hilly areas have proved the earlier calculations of weather experts as wrong, irrigating standing crops of the farmers all over the country free of cost.

The farmers, who usually spend around Rs600 for irrigation of one acre, will now save this money due to rains. Besides, the fogy season has also proved beneficial for wheat crop due to lack of frost, halting the growth of weeds, saving the cost of spray of pesticides, observed Javed Salim Qureshi, an agriculture expert and CEO of Four Brothers.

Qureshi, who is also Pakistan Engineering Council chairman, said that presently there is no water shortage , as dams are full, water flows in barrages and rivers are normal due to recent rains and snowfalls with nil outflows from reservoirs.

“The rain would be beneficial for standing crops of wheat, gram and fodder in arid and other areas, as rain-fed areas depend on rain and the farmers of these areas were fortunate that they received rain spells in January. It would not only increase per acre yield in the arid areas but also improve overall wheat output in the country,” he added.

He said that the country would have bumper crop of wheat, urging the authorities to adopt aggressive wheat export policy to benefit from high yield of wheat in Sindh as well as Punjab.

Pakistan Agri Forum Chairman Ibrahim Mughal said that ongoing rain spells in the country will bring about positive impact on all seasonal crops including vegetables and fruit orchids across the country. However, the negative impact of dry spell of last year’s November and December still persists, as the sowing of wheat and gram was affected in arid areas.

“Almost 0.3 millio acres of Bhakkar, Layya, Mianwali and Khushab which is the hub of gram production and totally dependent on rains, were badly affected owing to lack of rains at the end of last year,” he added.

In the same way, the wheat sowing was affected in Jehlum, Attock, Gujrat and Chakwal, reducing wheat cultivation area by around 1.5 million acres of land, Mughal said and added that less cultivation will cause a decline of around 1 million tons wheat. Due to long dry whether spell, the wheat plant was wilted but current rains would enhance the field moisture and help increase the growth of plant, resulting into a bumper production of present crop, he added.

He said that much awaited spell of rains would be most beneficial for wheat, cultivated over millions of acres in the county. Besides wheat, gram, mango and vegetables, the rains would also brought about positive impact on fodder crops and boost its production as it is cultivated over a large land to meet the food requirements of livestock, he observed.

He said that the government had set wheat production target at around 25 million tons for Rabi sowing season 2016-17 from an area of around 10 million hectares. Out of 25 million tons, Punjab is projected to produce 20 million tons, Sindh 4 million tons, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa 1.5 million tons and Balochistan 1 million tons.

Experts said that minor decline in wheat production will prove to be insignificant as the country has already huge stocks of wheat due to bumper crops in previous years and lack of disposal of this stock amidst inconsistent export policies of the government.

It is to be noted that the position of major water reservoirs level including Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma on Friday was as follow. Tarbela: Minimum operating level 1,380 feet, present level 1,427.85 feet, maximum conservation level 1,550 feet, live storage 0.905 million acre feet. Mangla: Minimum operating level 1,040 feet, present level 1,101.50 feet, maximum conservation level 1,242 feet, live storage 0.645 MAF. Chashma: Minimum operating level 637 feet, present level 640 feet, maximum conservation level 649 feet, live storage today 0.038 MAF.