The country is likely to miss wheat production target of 25 million tons set for 2013-2014 as growers have reduced the area under wheat cultivation following provincial governments failure to increase wheat support price.
Wheat support price is generally announced before the start of its sowing season aimed to encourage farmers to cultivate wheat but provincial governments refused to increase the support price and decided to keep the support price for wheat at the last year’s level of Rs 1200 per 40kg, which has resulted in decrease in wheat sowing area, said farmer representatives and official of Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R).
Chairman Agri Forum Pakistan Ibrahim Mughal said that it was the responsibility of the provincial governments to announce the wheat support price in the middle of September or start of October but their failure to increase the support price is the reason why the country will miss wheat production target this year.
He said that if the provincial governments fail to increase the support price up to Rs 1500 per 40kg prior to harvesting in May farmers are unlikely to sell wheat to Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) and food departments thereby compelling the government to import over one million tons of wheat to meet domestic demand.
Mughal also said that if the government does not increase the support price this year it will provide an opportunity to traders to exploit the growers which will benefit importers. A senior official of Ministry of NFS&R said that due to a significant increase in input costs, the farmers find the support price of Rs 1200 per 40kg unprofitable. NFS&R has held a series of meetings with all provincial government departments but they refused to increase the support price of 2013-14 wheat crops by maintaining that any rise would benefit the middleman. The official said that the support price of wheat from 2008 to 2011 was static at Rs 950 per 40kg, while in 2011-12 government raised it to Rs 1050 per 40kg and further increased it to Rs 1200 per 40-kg in 2012-13.