GIEWS Country Brief: Pakistan 19-April-2012

Report
from Food and Agriculture Organization
Published on 19 Apr 2012 View Original

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • Favourable outcome of the 2012 winter wheat crop production is forecast

  • Prices of wheat and wheat flour continue to rise, while those of rice stabilized at high levels

  • Food security remains a major challenge for the flood-affected population

Favourable outcome of the 2012 winter wheat crop production is forecast

Harvesting of the 2012 winter wheat crop began in March in Sindh province in the south and is expected to continue until the end of June in Punjab in the north. Scanty distribution of rains during the first three months of the 2011/12 agricultural winter season (October-December) resulted in water deficits to Rabi crops especially in Barani areas, which are rainfed. Although above normal rains were recorded at the end of December and early January, helping to reduce moisture deficits to some degree, dry weather resumed for 8 dekads from mid-January to end-March. However, most of the wheat crop cultivated in the main growing areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces is irrigated.

Following a period of cool weather which affected plant mitosis, a protracted period of below normal rains, floods in Sindh province, reported reduced availability of fertilizers and irrigation water led to a downward revision of the earlier forecast of the harvest. The latest official projection points to a crop of about 24.0 million tonnes, slightly below the record harvest in 2011 but above the previous five-year average.

Harvesting of the 2011 summer season Kharif crops, mainly paddy, maize and sorghum was completed by December. Heavy monsoon rains in August and September caused severe flooding in southern Pakistan, in most of Sindh and parts of Balochistan provinces. Over 9 million people were affected and at least 880 000 hectares of standing crops have been damaged. In spite of this localized floods the damage to the paddy crop was moderate and the national paddy output is estimated at 10.3 million tonnes (6.9 million tonnes in milled terms), which is 42 percent above 2010 drought-affected crop, but below the bumper harvests in 2008 and 2009. The 2011 total production estimate for maize, sorghum and millet is put at 4.1 million tonnes.

Pakistan is the world’s fifth-largest rice exporter. With the good production in 2011, the exportable surplus for 2011/12 marketing year (May/April) has been estimated at about 3.5 million tonnes of rice and 600 000 tonnes of wheat.

Prices of wheat and wheat flour continue to rise, while those of rice stabilize at high levels

Prices of wheat and wheat flour have been on the increase since late 2011, reflecting strong export demand. In the first two weeks of April, prices of wheat and wheat flour were 9 and 13 percent respectively above their levels a year earlier. Prices of rice (Irri varieties) have remained relatively stable in recent months at high levels, about 17 percent higher than in April 2011.

Price of basmati rice, intended mainly for export, is on the rise since September 2010. It has been stable at a record level since February 2012 averaging PKR 61.54 (about USD 0.68) per kg. In April 2012 prices increased by 26 percent over the corresponding month last year.

The latest available official data indicate that nationally the overall year-on-year consumer price inflation in March 2012 was fairly high estimated at 10.8 percent.

Food security remains a major challenge for the flood-affected population

The overall food supply situation in Pakistan has been satisfactory following consecutive years of relatively good harvests. However, the country was hit by severe floods for the second year in row. The floods affected over 9 million people. The number of houses damaged or destroyed has reached nearly 1.5 million. Furthermore, the affected population suffered significant crop, livestock and grain stock losses. Additionally, the impact of high inflation is a cause for concern especially for the low income population. The FAO initiative Pakistan Floods Rapid Response Plan 2011 is funded by donor contributions with nearly USD 10.6 million to provide approximately 91 000 flood-affected families with vital crop and livestock assistance.