December 30, 2013
Pakistan's wheat acreage decline by one to two million acres
By next year, Pakistan may import more than one million tonnes of wheat as the country is facing wheat under-sowing situation by at least one to two million acres, thus depleting foreign reserves which are already insufficient.
Sources said that the total demand of wheat stands at 26 million tonnes which needs 22 to 23 million acres wheat sowing. On the contrary, it has been sown only on 21 million acres that can produce 24.5 million tonnes at the most if the weather conditions remain favourable.
It is also said that in the current situation it appears that two million tonnes wheat will have to be imported during the next year.
Around 23 million tonnes of wheat was needed to fulfil the demands of the masses, 1.5 million tonnes for seed and one million tonnes for cattle and poultry feed while over 0.5 million tonnes of wheat is wasted during storage and handling.
Presently, the wheat price in the international market stands at US$300-310 per tonne that means at least US$300 million will be spent on wheat import during 2014 if only one million tonnes wheat are needed. In addition, freight charges will also cost a lot.
In 2012, 0.3 million tonnes wheat was imported from Russia at a price of US$285/tonne. But the Russian feed has no match with the local product and it has to be used by mixing it with local wheat otherwise it is unsuitable for humans and is used in cattle feed.
Earlier, Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) used to import wheat. Presently, private importers are allowed to import wheat, if needed. Import through TCP involved kickbacks that forced the government to allow private importers to import the product on their own.
Wheat shortage will also make the lives of the masses miserable across the country in terms of inflationary prices of wheat flour that has already crossed all previous limits and is being sold at PKR50 (US$0.47) per kilogramme. Pakistan has already been declared a food insecure country and the present situation will add much to the aforementioned status given to it.