Pakistan is expected to fall short of its wheat production target by 1.7 million tonnes for the current fiscal year, as per a report by The News International. Wheat production is projected to remain at around 26.7 million tonnes, compared to the target of 28.4 million tonnes.
The officials have cited the negative effects of climate change and crop substitution as the major reasons for the setback.The Punjab region is expected to witness a significant decline in wheat production in the current fiscal year due to climate change and the cultivation of other crops that are more profitable.
The report indicates that the country is also facing a potential wheat shortage in the next fiscal year, and the government may have to resort to imports to meet the domestic demand for staple food.The import of wheat is likely to increase, at a time when the country is experiencing a severe dollar liquidity crisis.
Top officials have confirmed that the country may need to import 3-3.5 million tonnes of wheat to fulfill the domestic and Afghanistan’s requirements in the next fiscal year, which is more than the import target of 2.6 million tonnes set for the current fiscal year.The situation is expected to be worsened by the weather forecast of heavy rains for two weeks, starting from the third week of March, which could affect wheat production.
The anticipated wheat production target has also fallen in the danger zone, as the Ministry of National Food Security & Research has received a forecast from the Met office warning of possible heatwaves in the country between March and May 2023.The official data available with The News International revealed that the government had set a wheat sowing area target of 22.85 million acres for the fiscal year 2022-23, including a sowing target of 16.48 million acres in Punjab.
However, only 16.01 million acres have been sown in the province so far, achieving only 97.17% of the target.If the expected wheat production remains at around 26 million tonnes, the government will have to import at least 3.5 to 4 million tonnes of wheat in the next fiscal year. This could be a daunting task, given the severe dollar liquidity crunch currently being faced by the country.