MULTAN - The unprecedented rain spells in the months of February and March have proved to be a blessing for the water-thirsty wheat crop in South Punjab and experts anticipate that the region is likely to harvest a bumper crop.

Besides favourable weather, the under-cultivation area for the wheat has also increased as it has been sown on 6594000 acres of land this year compared to 6507000 acres last year.

“Keeping in view the crop condition, if the weather conditions remain favourable till harvesting time we are likely to harvest almost nine million tons from South Punjab,” anticipated Naveed Asmat Kahloon, Assistant Director Agricultural Information Multan Region, while talking to The Nation.

He said that last year South Punjab region produced about 8.2 eight million tons of wheat and the target for this year stood at 7.5 million tons. “But the crop condition and weather situation are highly favourable and we’re hopeful that we’ll easily surpass the target.”

Pakistan is one of top 10 wheat producing countries in the world

“The average wheat for Punjab province for the year 2017-18 stands at 31.70 maunds per acre while the same for the South Punjab region is slightly high as Multan division produced 36.18 maunds last year. However, this year we are expecting even higher average—40 maunds per acre in South Punjab,” he further explained.

Pakistan is one of top ten wheat producing countries of the world but it lags far behind from other countries when it comes to measuring the agricultural productivity.

A recent report released by a business policy advocacy group—Pakistan Business Council—disclosed that Pakistan produces 62 per cent less wheat from one hectare than France, the country with world’s highest wheat production average.

Pakistan produces just 3.1 tons of wheat from one hectare compared to 8.1 tons produced by France. Wheat constitutes 60 per cent of daily diet of a common Pakistani and the country badly needs to boost its per acre production of this crop due to its ever-increasing demand because of fast growing population.

Talking to this scribe, a wheat grower namely Malik Muzaffar said that the current rains brought a great relief to the farmers. “We were faced with serious scarcity of irrigation water. Our canals were dry and we didn’t have money to purchase water from tube-well owners,” he added.

He said that the rains brought the life back to the crop and now he was hopeful that he would harvest a bumper crop. He said that the rains also cut a major financial burden as they brought water for free which otherwise he would have to buy.

Another grower Arsalan Khan was of the opinion that whenever the crop felt thirsty due to shortage of irrigation water, Almighty Allah sent help in terms of rain. “This February and March we have received all rains at perfect time. In almost all instances, we needed water but we did not have canal water and suddenly we received a rainfall,” he added.

He was of the opinion that reasons like poor seeds and shortage of irrigation water played a key role in less productivity. “If the government supports agriculture, supplies new weather and disease resistant varieties of seeds and ensures continuous water supply to the crops, we can produce high average of yield too,” he added.