Paddy production of the country may decline by 10 percent due to less rainfall, prolonged power outages and unavailability of irrigation water, an official at National Food Security and Research Ministry said. Pakistan’s average annual paddy production stands at 6.5 million tons of which 2.5 million tons is local consumption and the country exports around 4 million tons making it our second cash crop, the official maintained.
He said that paddy was sown on an area of 2.571 million hectares in 2011-12 as compared with 2.365 million hectares in 2010-11, showing an increase in sowing area of 8.7 percent. Last year Pakistan exported rice worth $ 2 billion, and Pakistan is the leading exporter of rice in the gulf region. The official said that if the provincial governments are providing necessary facilities to the farmers this year Pakistan’s paddy production should be 7 million tons. Paddy production in other major rice producing countries this year has declined due to weather conditions and price of the commodity in the international market is likely to skyrocket, which last year touched around $1,300 per ton for Basmati rice and around $500 per ton for Irri-6 rice. The country at present is facing unprecedented power outages and in hilly areas ice has still not melted which created serious problems for the farmers.
The official said that in this season there is neither sufficient water in canals nor had the country received required monsoon rains. Another major factor is expensive fertilizers, which has witnessed a 100 percent increase in price during the past two years and small farmers are no longer able to afford to give the required quantity of urea to their fields. In 2010, a 50kg urea bag was available at around Rs 1,100 in the country which at present costs Rs 18,000; moreover due to gas shortage in the country four major urea plants were closed and the country was forced to import urea, which was expensive and small farmers had no ability to purchase expensive fertilizer and as a result output of cotton and paddy was expected to remain below the target.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012