ISLAMABAD - Due to severe water shortage, the shortfall for Rabi crop 2018-19 may exceed anticipated 38 percent, Federal Committee on Agriculture was told Thursday.

IRSA advisory committee has anticipated shortfall of 38 percent for this year Rabi season and provinces have been allocated 23.322MAF of water. Prevailing weather conditions are not promising and shortage may increrqase.

The Committee was informed that sugarcane production for 2018-19 is estimated at 68.25 million tons from an area of 1115.27 thousand hectares. The rice production for 2018-19 is estimated at 7.1 million tons from an area of 2826 thousand hectares. The maize production for 2018-19 is estimated at 5.5 million tons from an area of 1194.6 thousand hectares. Production achievements of major and minor crops like wheat, gram, potato, lentil, onion, tomato and chilies were also discussed in the meeting. The Committee has fixed the production targets for Rabi (2018-19). The target for wheat was fixed at 25.6 million tons on an area of 8.8 million hectares. It was observed that the target area and production of sugarcane fixed by FCA as per first provisional estimates achieved.

Meteorological department informed that monsoon rains from July to September, 2018 remained 33% below average in the country. The significant decrease in rainfall was observed in Balochistan and Sindh region where it remained 54% and 88% below normal respectively. Punjab and Gilgit Baltistan also received 17% and 21% less than long term average rainfall, respectively. As per weather outlook for the period September-November, 2018, it is expected that amount of rainfall will remain slightly below normal in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, central & lower Punjab and Sindh province

The representative from State Bank of Pakistan informed that during the financial year 2017-18 banks achieved the target of Rs 972.6 billion against target of Rs 1001 billion. Total 3.7 million borrowers were served during 2017-18 by 50 commercials banks, micro finance banks, Islamic banks and other micro finance institutions. Agri Credit Advisory Committee set a target of Rs 1250 billion for the year 2018-19. As of August, 2018 banks achieved a target of Rs 121 billion which is around 10% of overall target.

Representatives of provincial agriculture departments, State Bank of Pakistan, ZTBL, National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC), Pakistan Meteorological Department, Indus River System Authority and senior officers of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research, Federal Water Management Cell and Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) participated in the meeting.