LAHORE – The production of rice likely to decline by 10 percent due to devastated flood effects in Sindh, Balochistan and in southern parts of Punjab beside unprecedented load shedding in rice-belt and high price of diesel contribute to the loss, it has been learnt.

Another major factor, the sources said, is expensive fertilizers, which has witnessed a 100 percent increase in price during the past two years and small farmers are no longer able to afford to give the required quantity of urea to their fields.

The farmers, however, blamed that the governments, both the Punjab and the Federal, had totally neglected the agriculture sector and put no attention on the two main crops, cotton and rice, which contribute 70 per cent of the agri export.

“Punjab had not achieved paddy cultivation target by about at least half million acres due to 40 percent below normal rains in the months of cultivation, markedly reduced river inflows in June and July, unaffordable cost of diesel and long hours load shedding in rural areas,” said an official of the Agriculture Department.

Similarly, he added that the overall losses to growers are estimated to be around 50 percent of Sindh’s paddy crop where it was damaged due to the monsoon rains. The rains in Sindh and Balochistan continued for five consecutive days breaking the 100-year record and played havoc in both provinces in mid of September, he added.

The country’s average annual paddy production stands at seven million tons of which three million tons is local consumption and the exports stand around 4 million tons. There are estimates that paddy sown on an area 2.3 million hectares in the country and Punjab, which produces 80 percent of the agriculture commodities, had missed cotton sowing target of 6.4 million acres by one million acres this season. And it was, the official said, due to scant rains and abnormally low flows in rivers of the country. He told that the country export was expected less than 3 million tons of rice due to said reasons.

He said that less rainfall, prolonged power outages and unavailability of irrigation water in districts of Sheikhupura, Narowal, Mandi Bahauddin, Gujrat, Gujranwala and other districts likely to contribute major share in missing the target. Last year Pakistan exported rice worth $2 billion and the same cannot be expected this year, he feared.

Farm Agri Forum President Ibrahim Mughal said that high authorities in agriculture department have had no concern with the agriculture and farmers instead they were getting good salaries and sitting in their offices without any aim. He regretted that there was no agriculture policy in the country which was the need of the hours.