Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bumper wheat crop likely in Sindh

By Saleem Shaikh

February 21, 2011

HEAT sowing in Sindh has surpassed the target, and chances for bumper production are bright provided the standing crop receives final doses of water and urea preferably before the end of February.

Wheat harvest usually begins from mid-March in lower Sindh, and is in full swing in April in upper Sindh districts.

In October, the Federal Committee on Agriculture had set production and sowing targets for Sindh at 3.682 million tons and 10,31,000 hectares respectively for the ongoing Rabi season.

Sindh Agriculture Department officials claim that wheat sowing in the province has crossed the target. “Till February 10, the crop had been planted on around 10,81,000 hectares, while cultivation will continue till mid-March, easily touching 11,00,000 hectares,” said Ashfaq Ahmed Soomro, additional secretary, Sindh Agriculture Department.

Officials say that owing to vigorous wheat cultivation activities in districts on the right bank of Indus River, wheat production target would be easily achievable. “We are expecting some 3.8 million tons of crop against 3.682 million tons for the current Rabi season,” they said.

For the ongoing Rabi season, per acre yield target was set at 36.1 maunds. But, Bashir Thebo, Director Statistics wing, Department of Agriculture, said average per acre yield was expected between 40-50 maunds; An average of 60 maunds in some areas, where quality of land was better, and farm inputs were timely available, was also being expected.

“Favourable climatic conditions, availability of quality seeds and fertilisers and luckily no viral attacks are other major positive factors behind vigorous sowing and higher acreage.”

There are also other factors behind the robust sowing such as: “Plans drawn up carefully for achieving the target were implemented in time. All farm inputs and other facilities were made available to growers at market price in proper manner to facilitate cultivation in maximum area,” said Asfaq Ahmed Soomro, additional secretary of the department.

Additional general secretary of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) Muhammad Hussain Khushik warns that the crop may post a decline of 25 per cent if the crop fails to get essential last doses of water and urea in time.

“The recent 23-25 per cent increase in prices of urea and DAP, may leave no option for the growers – particularly small farmers – but to avoid the essential doses,” he feared.

According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS), in December a urea fertiliser bag of 50kg was selling at Rs850 in most of the wheat growing districts of the province.

But, at present it is being sold at Rs1,200 per bag and reportedly at Rs1,250 per bag in some upper Sindh districts. Besides, DAP prices have also gone up by Rs150-200 per 50kg bag in the past two months. At present, a DAP bag is selling at Rs3,200, the FBS reports says.


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