Pakistan's Food Potentials - a Survey

By Haidari, Iqbal | Economic Review, January 1998 | Go to article overview

Pakistan's Food Potentials - a Survey


Haidari, Iqbal, Economic Review


- a survey

The present cereal production is around 26.3 million tonnes. A production target of 54 million tonnes of cereal production would be sufficient to meet Pakistan's entire food needs and also to enable it to be the major exporter of grains to South Asia and the Middle East. Thus Pakistan has immense potential to turn into the food granary for the countries of Asia and Africa in view of its vast potential of water resources and its biggest canal system in the world.

According to an eminent agriculture expert, Pakistan through intensive cultivation can increase its cereal grain production more than three times the amount currently produced in the country. The present cereal production is around 26.3 million tonnes. A production target of 54 million tonnes of cereal production would be sufficient to meet Pakistan's entire food needs and also to enable it to be the major exporter of grains to South Asia and the Middle East. Thus Pakistan has immense potential to turn into the food granary for the countries of Asia and Africa in view of its vast potential of water resources and its biggest canal system in the world. Moreover, Pakistan's oil and climate are conducive to year round crop production. We briefly present the food potential and their future development.

Major sources of dietary proteins are cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables and animals. In the case of rice Pakistan already exports more than a million tonnes of rice to Middle Eastern and South Asia countries. Against the requirement of 20 million tonnes the production of wheat would be less than 18 million tonnes this year. Let us examine the cereal production including wheat, rice and pulses.

WHEAT

Target for wheat crop for the year 1997-98 has been fixed at 18.0 million tonnes showing an increase of 10.3 per cent over actual production of last year. Of the target 18.0 million tonnes. Punjab would produce 13.5 million tonnes, Sindh 2.47 million tonnes, NWFP 1.28 tonnes and Balochistan 911 thousand tonnes. Per hectare yield is extremely low unless this chief deficiency is firmly overcome the overall prospect for wheat will not brighten up. Yet another drawback is the wastage of wheat crop. Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) estimated that 40 per cent of wheat produced in the country is wasted annually either in the field, in storage or during transportation. Wheat stocks can be built for consumption and export only when scientifically constructed godowns are available in all regions.

RICE

Rice is the most important cash crop in Pakistan and it has assumed the first position in regard to foreign exchange earnings. Pakistan has moreover, a distinction of being one of the only two producers of Basmati rice in the world though with some justilication to be the world's finest, of delicate long grain and exotic. A unique combination of soil and climatic conditions confine this distinctive rice to Pakistan. While long grain rice has been grown with success elsewhere, notably in the United States nowhere has it been possible to duplicate or rival the particular flavour characteristics of fine Basmati rice. Rice production is estimated at 4.2 million tonnes during 1996-97 as compared to 3.97 million tonnes harvested last year.

[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

The gross inadequacy of storage capacity is, however, acutely felt. Although the Rice Export Corp. of Pakistan (RECP) has now a storage capacity of 831 thousand tonnes as against 590,000 tonnes at the time of its inception. It leaves much to be desired. The storage capacity must be increased without delay to cope with the increasing exports. If that has been done, it will make a difference for the better. This year there would be an exportable surplus of 1.5 million tonnes as against 1.37 million tonnes exported last year. It is estimated that rice exports are likely to fetch about $600 million as against $503 million last year.

PULSES

Pulses are called the poor man's meat in view of their comparative man's meat in view of their comparative cheap availability and for possessing high contents of protein, minerals and vitamin B. …

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