ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research was assured on Wednesday that there will be no shortage of wheat in the country despite the loss of stocked grain in Sindh in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the country.

The Managing Director of Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco), Saeed Ahmad Nawaz, presented details to the committee on the loss and damage of stocked wheat in Sindh and Balochistan, and said that the loss of wheat has been estimated to be Rs4 billion.

He explained that in Khairpur, 26,956 tonnes of wheat were damaged, while in Hyderabad, 564 tonnes of wheat were damaged due to a flash flood. Out of the stock of 22,00,000 lakh and 66,000 tonnes, Passco has lost 52,670 tonnes of wheat in Sindh.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) Secretary Zafar Hassan disclosed that the ministry has finalised the minimum support price for wheat for 2022-23 and has shared it with the prime minister. He said that the cost of production of wheat has been estimated to be Rs2,495 per maund.

The Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Industries and Production informed the committee that there is no shortage of fertilisers in the country. A government-to-government agreement has been signed with Iran to import 300,000 tonnes of DAP on a barter basis. He stated that Pakistan will supply Iran with rice and fertiliser. The government will also import 200,000 tonnes of DAP from China, he explained.

MNA Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan, who chaired the meeting, directed that the prices of fertilisers should be monitored properly by the relevant authorities.

Mr Ajmal feared that due to the flood situation, the area under wheat cultivation during the coming rabi season would be reduced by 20 per cent. He estimates that the flood waters will recede and the rehabilitation process will take at least two months.

Agriculture, livestock losses

The impact of the worst-ever flooding in Pakistan has been severe on agriculture in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab, with data shared by the provinces with the MNFSR showing an estimated loss and damage of Rs298 billion.

In its briefing to the MNFSR, the Sindh Agriculture Supply and Prices Department said that cotton and date palm crops were completely destroyed while sugarcane, kharif chillies, onion, tomato, kharif vegetables, rice, sesame and some other small crops were partially damaged.

In Punjab, the total area damaged by the floods was 0.83 per cent, which was about 30,340 acres of the total cultivated area of about 3,670,000 acres.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, out of the total acreage of 778,937 under twelve different crops, 14,397 acres were damaged. The KP government estimated a loss of Rs3662.70 million. The losses and damage to crops reported were maize, rice, oil seed, tobacco, vegetables, orchards, pulses, cotton, dates, potato and cotton.

Cotton was grown on an area of 1,467,579 acres while date palm was grown on an area of 101,379 acres. Details show that 69.774 acres of rice were damaged, followed by 40.70pc of chillies, 20.31pc of tomato crop, 27.95pc of onions, 54.57pc of kharif vegetables, 7.18pc of sugarcane crop and 22.55pc of sesame crop.

The Agriculture and Cooperatives Department of Balochistan has sent estimates of losses to the provincial government to seek funds to the tune of Rs30,916m for compensation of losses and damage. The department sought provision of subsidies to the affected farmers during the forthcoming seasonal crops.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2022

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