ISLAMABAD  - The government estimates wheat production amounting to 24.02 million tons this year, fairly sufficing country’s annual requirement of noting less than 24 million tons, an official told Online on Saturday.

However, he informed that there was no risk of shortage of the commodity in the country.

The official said that net production is likely to fell down slightly against its target of 25 million tons due to certain factors and the major reasons are shortage of fertilisers and water scarcity. When contacted Federal Secretary Shafaqt Hussain Naghmi told Online that this year entire wheat production of the country is yet to be estimated, however in Punjab wheat production was estimated to be around 18 million tons.

“Wheat harvesting is going to start from mid April in Sindh and in the end of this month or in the beginning of next month in Punjab,” the federal secretary said, adding that this year wheat requirement is expected to remain about 24 million tons in the country. While talking to Online Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman of Agri Forum Pakistan said that wheat production target was set at 25 million tons for this year but the output could be around 23 to 23.5 million tons.

He said the country had 4 million tons of carry forward stocks and demanded that government should allow 1.5 million tons wheat export to Iran from fresh stock under barter trade system and in return petroleum products should be imported.

“This year Punjab should procure 3 million tons wheat from farmers while Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supplies Corporation (PASSCO) and Sindh 2 and 1.5 million tons respectively,” he added. According to the US Department of Agriculture report, Pakistan’s wheat production for the year 2012-13 is estimated at 23 million tons which shows down five per cent relative to previous year’s record harvest of 24.2 million tons. The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has already approved the purchase of 7,700,000 tons of wheat from farmers.

The ECC on Friday was of the consensus that the provinces have the inalienable right to lift the wheat but the debate went on the extension of credit cash guarantees to the provinces on the amount of purchasing wheat after the increase in the support price of wheat from Rs.950 to 1050.

It may be recalled that after the due process of devolution the provinces were allowed to lift the wheat to maintain strategic reserves.