LAHORE - The average per acre yield of wheat crop in Punjab is stuck to 30 maunds over the years hampering government’s efforts to gradually reduce the area under wheat cultivation to make it available for growing pulses and vegetables, official statistics show. At present Punjab is using its 17.143 million acres for wheat sowing leaving little space for nontraditional crops which fit into the idea of modern day farming with high returns for the farmers.

Punjab Agriculture Department is hopeful to meet wheat production target for 2015-16 which are set as 19.5 million ton despite small reduction in sowing area as compared to last year. Wheat had been sown on 17.247 million acre in 2014-15 and 17.054 million acre in 2013-14.

Last year wheat production was 19.282 million ton, according to the Agriculture Department. Punjab shares 76 per cent of country’s total wheat production. The govt in its efforts to increase wheat yield had distributed free of cost top quality seeds among farmers. It also spent Rs 11 billion in terms of subsidy on fertilizers under Prime Minister package for farmers.

The Federal government had announced Rs 20 billion subsidy for year 2015-16 to keep down the fertilizer prices. But the efforts failed to bear some fruit as the ground situation is unchanged. Official sources said the department spent Rs 222.120 million on seed distribution in 23,500 villages of Punjab on basis of one village one farmer. A farmer was provided four bags of quality seed after balloting and he had been ensured to distribute the same seed among farmers during next year on government prescribed wheat price. The seed varities of Faisalabad 2008, Galaxy 2013 and Chakwal 50 had been distributed among farmers.

The shortage of water in canal irrigated areas, loadshedding on agriculture tube-wells, government failure to stop the distribution of low quality seed, pesticides and fertilizers besides the farmers own failure to adopt modern techniques of irrigation are being said the main reasons behind non-achievement of desired results of per acre yield in the province.  An agriculturist states that not only Punjab but countrywide production of country’s main crop wheat shows a declining trend in per acre yield.

According to official data, the per acre average yield in Punjab’s Rawalpindi division is 31 maunds, Sargodha division 23 maunds, Faisalabad division 36 maunds, Gujranwala division 25 maunds, Lahore division 36 maunds, Sahiwal division 37 maunds, Multan division 36 maunds, D.G Khan division 31 maunds and Bahawalpur division is hovering around 35 maunds. The figures show some districts like Jehlum, Attock, Mianwali, Gujrat, Sialkot are Narowal are producing below 20 maunds per acre wheat. Okara, Pakpattan, R.Y Khan, Bahawalnagar, Vehari, Khanewal, Nankana Sahib, Toba Tek Singh, Lodhran, Sheikhupura, Hafizabad and Jhang are top producing wheat areas with more than 35 maunds per acre yield of wheat crops.