Wheat Accounts for 72% Of Pakistan’s Daily Caloric Intake
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Pakistan’s 2023/2024 Wheat production is forecast at 27 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 timely cultivation of the 2023/24 Wheat crop. The growing conditions were generally good, with adequate rainfall during crucial crop development stages in January and February. The growing needs 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.
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. Crop harvest will begin in earnest in early April 2022 and continue through May. 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 1) increasingly variable temperature and moisture patterns; 2) a trend for higher temperatures during March, the critical grain filling stage, and rainfall during harvest months of May and June; 3) lack of improved variety development; 4) continued use of flood irrigation; 5) intermittent irrigation water shortages; and 6) persistently high energy costs to run irrigation pumps.
Regarding its contribution to food security and area grown, Wheat is Pakistan’s most important crop. The 8.9 million hectares of Wheat area is about 40 percent of the total field cropland. In irrigated areas, Wheat is planted after cotton, rice, and sugarcane, while in rain-fed areas, Wheat is grown at the same time as maize and millet. Wheat sowing occurs in October/December. There is no uniform Government Wheat support price this year. The federal and Punjab provincial governments increased the Wheat support price for the 2023/24 crop to Rs. 3,900 per 40 kilograms ($346 per metric ton), while Sindh Government set the price at Rs. 4,000 per 40 kilograms ($354 per metric tons). Last year there was a uniform support price of Rs. 1,950 per 40 kilograms ($290 per metric ton).
Wheat Consumption and Import in Pakistan
Consumption in 2023/24 is forecast at 30.2 million tons, an annual growth rate of 3 percent. High inflation has reversed the consumer trend of substituting more protein for carbohydrates in the diet. Growth in the consumption of Wheat flour-based products is increasing as incomes dwindle, and consumers find it challenging to afford milk and meat. Wheat remains the main staple, accounting for 72 percent of Pakistan’s daily caloric intake, with per capita consumption of around 124 kilograms (kg) per year, one of the highest in the world. Out of 30.2 million tons of total demand, only five percent will be used in the feed industry.
Considering the production and consumption expectations, imports during 2023/24 are forecast at 2.6 million tons. According to AgFlow data, Pakistan imported 0.5 million tons of Wheat from Russia in Jan-Feb 2023, followed by Romania (60,000 tons). The Ministry of Commerce’s Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) purchases Wheat through public tenders.
Other sources: USDA
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