Pakistan Wheat Import Is Forecast at 2.6 Million Tons
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Despite a slight reduction in planted area, Pakistan’s 2023/2024 Wheat production is forecast at 27.0 million tons, two percent higher than in 2022/23. Due to favorable weather conditions and better availability of irrigation water, 2023/24 Wheat crop yields are expected to improve, leading to an overall increase in production. Unlike the 2022/23 crop, which was adversely impacted by an unusual heat wave in February and March, growing conditions during this year’s grain-filling stage have been good.
After last year’s floods, there were concerns that the planted area for 2023/2024 would decline significantly due to a lack of seeds and the inability of farmers to prepare their land because flood waters had not yet subsided (especially in Sindh). Many small farmers who store their planting seeds on-farm lost the seeds during the floods. However, the Government, private sector, and aid organizations coordinated with Wheat farmers to provide inputs and other assistance to ensure the timely cultivation of Pakistan’s 2023/24 Wheat crop.
Cumulative fertilizer nutrient offtake during the 2022/23 winter planting season (October-January) was 4.6 percent lower than last year. Phosphate and potash use decreased by 25.5 and 69.9 percent, respectively, while nitrogen offtake was 3.9 percent higher. The growing conditions were generally good, with adequate rainfall during crucial crop development stages in January and February.
The growing conditions and sufficient moisture should boost yields higher than otherwise indicated by the lower fertilizer usage rates. An expected rebound in soil fertility after the floods will also help to increase yields. No serious pest outbreaks have been reported, including no reports of locust infestations in this year’s crop. There is a low incidence of locusts along traditional local pathways, implying a low risk of locust infestations through the end of harvest.
While the Wheat crop has traditionally been susceptible to rust, the increased use of rust-resistant varieties limits the risk, and the disease is reportedly insignificant this year.
In addition to the post-flood problems specific to this year’s crop development, several perennial and persistent challenges hinder increases in Wheat productivity, including:
- Increasingly variable temperature and moisture patterns.
- A trend for higher temperatures during March, the critical grain-filling stage, and rainfall during harvest months of May and June.
- Lack of improved variety development.
- Continued use of flood irrigation.
- Intermittent irrigation water shortages.
- Persistently high energy costs to run irrigation pumps.
The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) set the 2023/24 Wheat production “target” at 28.4 million tons. This would be 2 million tons higher than the 2022/23 output if realized. The Government production target is aspirational, with the outcome dependent on fertilizer availability and growing conditions during the next few months.
Wheat Imports in Pakistan
According to AgFlow data, Russia led Pakistan’s Wheat import market with 0.6 million tons in Jan – May 2023, followed by Romania (33,000 tons). The Ministry of Commerce’s Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) purchases Wheat through public tenders.
Based on total commitments to date (imports plus outstanding purchases), the 2022/23 import forecast is reduced from 3 to 2.6 million tons. Following the Trade Corporation of Pakistan’s tender on 5 December 2022, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved 500,000 tons at $372/ton, Karachi port, 16 December 2022-8 February 2023 delivery. In addition, the ECC approved a separate 450,000 purchase from Russia at $372/ton, Gwadar port, 1st February-31st March 2023 delivery.
Through last October, imports for the 2022/23 year were just over 980,000 tons. With the 950,000 tons of purchases made the first week of December, plus another 685,000 tons awarded in Oct/Nov, the total outstanding purchases were 1.635 million tons. Thus, total commitments are 2.6 million tons.
Other sources: PAKOB SERVER.NET
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