Islamabad: Pakistan, the world’s sixth-largest consumer of wheat, expects to meet its production target after rains in the growing-areas improved crop prospects.
“The rain is extremely useful for the wheat crop as it lowered the temperature and increased moisture in the soil,” Akram Anjum, a director at the nation’s weather office here, said by phone.
Pakistan’s government in December had forecast production will rise 3.7% to 22.5 million metric tonnes in 2007, exceeding demand by one million tonne and helping the country export wheat for the first time in four years. The nation in January approved exports of 500,000 tonnes by April, buoyed by 2 million tonnes of stock from 2006.
The country’s southern Sindh and central Punjab provinces, which together grow 90% of the nation’s wheat, received as much as 2.6 centimetres of rain in the past two days, Anjum said. More rainfall in the area is forecast in March, he said.
Farmers plant the crop in November and December and harvest it from April to June.
The government in September increased the price at which farmers sell the crop to encourage production. Flour mills will buy wheat at Rs425 for 40kg in 2007, Rs10 more than they previously paid.
Pakistan, which last shipped wheat overseas in 2003, banned exports of the grain in 2004 after output fell that year because of a drought. The nation spent $287 million (Rs1,270 crore) to buy 1.4 million tonnes of wheat from Australia, Canada and other suppliers.
Agriculture accounts for about a quarter of Pakistan’s $129 billion economy.