A record production of four major crops will earn billions of dollars in foreign exchange for the country, besides generating additional income of around Rs400 billion for farmers, projected Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Imam revealed that the production of wheat and rice had hit record high, and cotton and sugarcane harvest would also surge.

“Cumulatively, the growth will be around 37%,” he said, adding that maize output had also increased.

Giving details, the food security minister revealed that the production of wheat rose by 2.2 million tons to 27.5 million tons. “Had we imported this additional wheat, the country would have spent around $900 million,” he noted.

The production of cotton was expected to reach 9 million bales as compared to 7 million bales in the previous year, an increase of 2 million bales, he said.

If the additional 2 million bales were exported, it would earn around $750 million for the country, Imam calculated.

Likewise, rice crop was also showing a record production of 9 million tons, he said, adding that there was also carry-forward stock of 2 million tons.

“So, the country is in a position to export around 8 million tons when local consumption of 3.5 million tons is subtracted,” Imam underlined.

The country earned around $2.1 billion from the export of rice last year, he said, adding that this year exports were expected to reach $4.75 billion, an increase of $2.6 billion.

“We expect China and other rice importing countries to purchase more,” he voiced hope.

Sugarcane harvest was expected to grow from 81 million tons to 89 million tons, he said and added that maize production inched up and reached 9 million tons from 8.9 million tons.

Read ‘Agriculture sector vital for growth’

Imam was of the view that agricultural production increased due to “prudent policies of the government”.

Lauding the efforts of provincial governments and farmers, he underlined that improving the quality of life of the general public was among top priorities of the government.

“The government is rigorously working on promotion of the agriculture sector, with an aim to enhance planning and development activities.”

Moreover, Imam emphasised the need for increasing the milk processing capacity and value addition to tap full potential of the sector.

The government was determined to transform animal breeding through various interventions, he added.

Earlier, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain claimed that farmers would get an additional income of around Rs400 billion owing to the increased agricultural output.

Giving statistics, he revealed that there would be an additional income of Rs118 billion from wheat harvest, Rs136 billion from cotton output, Rs46 billion from rice production, Rs96 billion from sugarcane harvest and Rs3 billion from maize output.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2021.

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