Govt to Set Ambitious Wheat Production Target of 33 million Tons for 2023-24

In a bid to secure food for its burgeoning population, Pakistan is considering an ambitious wheat production target exceeding 33 million tons for the 2023-24 season.

According to a national daily, the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) may set the national wheat production target at 33.5 million tons in its upcoming meeting on Saturday. This represents an increase from last year’s 28.4 million tons, achieved by cultivating the same 22.8 million acres and targeting an 18 percent jump in productivity.

“It will be a departure from the stereotypical approach of maximizing the area under cultivation, which is simply not possible due to a dearth of water for irrigation purposes,” the official emphasized the departure from the conventional strategy.

The agricultural sector, constituting about a fifth of the country’s GDP, has grappled with meeting the demand for wheat, a staple for over 240 million people. The focus lies on boosting productivity through increased per-acre yield, steering away from the traditional approach of expanding cultivation area, hampered by water scarcity.

The proposed wheat production targets for various regions include 25.6 million tons for Punjab, 4.5 million tons for Sindh, 1.85 million tons for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and 1.6 million tons for Balochistan.

The focus is on utilizing high-yielding, locally developed seeds to achieve a per-acre production of 40 to 50 maund. The provincial government of Punjab plans to ensure 0.5 million tonnes of certified seed, along with a subsidy of Rs. 1,500/bag on 16 high-yielding varieties covering 1.2 million acres.

The official acknowledged the challenging yet practical approach of the province, emphasizing that the growing demand for increased crop production is a significant factor influencing policy decisions. Vertical growth, focusing on available areas while leaving horizontal growth as a secondary means, is seen as the practical solution to sustain efforts in this direction.

The province aims to increase wheat production from last year’s 21 million tonnes to 25.6 million tons. This involves elevating per-acre yield by a significant 21 percent, reaching an ambitious 40 maund per acre from last season’s 33 maund per acre.

Challenges such as fertilizer availability and pricing are being addressed through concentrated efforts, including an awareness campaign in rainfed areas and the communication of production plans to field formations. Timely sowing, sufficient irrigation supplies, and the timely start of sugarcane crushing are deemed crucial for achieving good yields.

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