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Sindh decides to provide certified seed and fertiliser to farmers

  Wheat crop’s per acre yields may face challenges in 2023. Wheat is a major Rabi crop and its sowing usually ends by November. Yet it was s...


Wheat crop’s per acre yields may face challenges in 2023. Wheat is a major Rabi crop and its sowing usually ends by November. Yet it was still being sown till the end of December, which may impact its yields.

The Sindh government decided to provide certified seed and fertiliser to farmers since unusual rainfall coupled with a dysfunctional drainage system spelt disaster in the province’s right and left bank areas.

Sindh’s ruling party draws its electoral strength, by and large, from rural areas. The government was mindful of the fact that 2023 is an election year and that’s why wheat’s support price increased from Rs2,200 to Rs4,000 for the new crop.

But was not actualised because of a lack of necessary procedural requirements. Subsequently, the Sindh government decided to provide Rs5,000 an acre subsidy with whopping Rs13.5 billion expenditures for the purpose. Sindh government pitched in Rs8.39bn, and the federal government committed Rs4.7bn; disbursement was to begin at the start of the new year.

In Sindh, while wheat yields may be lower due to its delayed sowing, cotton and rice crops should be adequate if the weather permits

Wheat was grown across Sindh irrespective of climatic conditions of right or left bank areas, but delayed dewatering has hit its sowing. However, Sindh agriculture department officers insist that 960,500ha (85 per cent) acreage of the sowing target of 1,130,000ha have been achieved till December while sowing continues.

Last year 1,181,000ha of sowing acreage was achieved against the target of 1,200,000ha. An output of 3.5 million tonnes of grain was achieved against a target of 4m tonnes last year, whereas this year’s target had been revised downward to 3.8m tonnes.

The riverine area between two dykes of mighty Indus was flooded as 0.6m cusecs of flood had safely passed Kotri barrage downstream. Besides wheat, mustard is also grown in katcha by riverine dwellers in addition to command areas. Therefore, the Director General of Agriculture Extension Sindh Hidayatullah Chhajro is hopeful that a better wheat harvest is a foregone conclusion since the riverine area was completely flooded.

Wheat acreage of the riverine area remained unaccounted for from a revenue record point of view, although the agriculture department has been rating it the same as non-irrigated areas (not fed through formal canal command of any of the three barrages of Sindh). He admits soil in the land was degraded due to drainage issues and farmers would have to struggle to reclaim soil fertility through manure.

But Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) vice president Mahmood Nawaz Shah remained unimpressed by the DG’s contention, saying wheat is grown in riverine areas every year and is part of Sindh’s grain production.

“I reject the official notion of having impressive yields in wheat due to flooding in the riverine area. Wheat crop is mostly sown in command areas, and this has been delayed exceptionally. Belated sowing will potentially undermine productivity,” he said. However, he was optimistic about a better Kharif season, provided temperatures remained normal.

“Amidst normal climatic conditions, we will likely have adequate cotton and rice crops sowing in the 2023 season. Hopefully, by that time rest of the inundated area will have been dewatered,” he said.

After having suffered badly in summer crops of rice due to floods, growers anticipate a normal Kharif season if weather conditions go their way. Rice’s crop suffered 75pc losses in the deluge despite being a high delta crop after the targeted acreage of 800,000ha was achieved as per official figures.

The Federal Committee on Agriculture will fix cotton’s crop target next month. Last year’s cotton crop was damaged to a considerable extent as hardly one or two pickings were done before rainfall struck.

Cotton acreage in 2021 was achieved at 540,000ha against a target of 640,000ha (83pc) with 3.4m bales production, according to the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association. Cotton had shown healthy signs in 2021-22, recording 3.5m bales production against a 4m bales target.

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