MULTAN-Federal Minister for National Food Security & Reseech, Syed Fakhar Imam, said that climate change topped three major challenges Pakistan is faced with at present. Speaking at a ceremony held at Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture (MNSUA) here on late Saturday, Syed Fakhar Imam said that Pakistan missed 1.5 million tonnes of wheat target in last yield.

“The total wheat yield was 2.5 million tonnes. Of it, Punjab contributed lion’s share with 19.4 million tonnes while Sindh shared 3.95 million tonnes, KPK 1.25 m tonnes and rest of portion was produced by Balochistan.” he explained. Our departments procured 6.4 million tonnes wheat including Punjab 4 million tonnes, Sindh 1.25 million tonnes, PASSCO 1.2 million tonnes, Balochistan 1 million tonne whereas KP did not procure, the minister said and added it was purchased at 1400 per mound from farmer and after a short span it was being sold at Rs1,800 -1,900 per mound in Karachi and Peshawar. The shortage was due to international parity price, Fakhar Imam informed adding that when procurement price was Rs1,300 for seven to eight years in our country, the maximum rate was Rs1,150 at international level.

Moneyed people invested more this time to earn better  profit by selling  the wheat  locally because they did not bother about 25 per cent  Pakistanis living below poverty line in the country, he deplored. Keeping in view this situation, the govt decided to import wheat, the minister said adding that 4.3 million tonnes has reached Karachi port from where it had arrived in different cities. He stated that five crops including wheat, rice, cotton, sugar cane and maize are cultivated on 80 per cent land in the country while fruits, veggies, fodder and pulses are grown on rest of 20 per cent areas. Pakistan is importing edible oil of two-and-a half billion dollars annually which poses a big challenge. It turns out to be 85 per cent of our consumption while 15 per cent is obtained locally out of which 7 per cent is extracted from cotton seed as by product, Syed Fakhar Imam noted. He deplored that scientists, researchers and farmers could not come up to the level of curtail imports so far for different reasons. “It is our policy we should improve our research for this purpose gradually,” he suggested.

Regarding wheat cultivation last year, he stated that it was grown on 22 million acre including 16 million in Punjab, 4 million in Sindh and 2 million in KPK and Balochistan collectively while our average was 27.7 mounds. It was 31-32 mounds in Bangladesh and 33-34 mounds in India. The ministry is planning along with provincial governments to recommend better support price to farmers keeping in view international parity the minister said and added that they would submit their recommendations to Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and Federal Cabinet in this connection. He stressed the need of using pure and quality seed of wheat which will yield better results next time. Syed Fakhar Imam insisted that universities should extend improved opportunities of research to students as given by developed countries like China. He compared Pakistan’s agriculture with other countries and shed in-depth light on reasons of legging behind them. Provincial Agriculture Minister, Hussain Jahania Gardezi and Kissan Ittehad leader, Khalid Khokhar also spoke.