The government is committed to ensuring certified, high-yielding and rust-resistant seeds and fertilisers for wheat to achieve higher per-acre crop output during the coming season, said Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Thursday.

While chairing a meeting of Agriculture Policy Institute (API) Committee on Wheat 2021-22 Crop, Imam said that the government will formulate a policy to increase per acre production of wheat, adding that minimum support price would also be announced before of the sowing season.

Imam said that the government was focusing on availability of certified seed and for the upcoming season, around 530,000 metric tons would be available including 160,000 tons rust-tolerant varieties.

Emphasising on the improved productivity, the minister said that there was a need for paradigm shift in the yield of this crop as the country despite being the eight largest producer of wheat was still standing at the 64th position in terms of productivity at the global level.

The minister said that small holders will only be able to grow wheat if quality inputs were timely available and in the range of farmer’s access. He said that increase in minimum support price for wheat crop, from Rs1,400 to Rs1,800 produced a good result, which helped the country in harvesting the highest crop 27.5 million tons. Imam added that a number of factors helped in achieving the historic production including favourable weather conditions, availability of certified seed about 513,000 ton, availability of fertilisers and irrigation and water.

Imam said that the trend of increasing prices of DAP fertiliser ranging between Rs6,500 to Rs7,500 was a serious concern for the government. He added that the government would ensure availability of fertiliser on accessible prices particularly to the small growers. The minister stressed the need for establishing linkages between scientists and farmers mainly to minimise the gap between the results of research farm with that of the actual field.

During the meeting, API Director General Abdul Karim presented an economic analysis based on various key factors of the crop such as short and long-term growth trends in area, yield and production. He also apprised the meeting about the cost of production estimates, import parity prices, average market price in the post-harvest season.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2021.

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