GIEWS Country Brief: Pakistan 22-February-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • Favourable prospects for 2017 wheat crop production

  • Paddy production in 2016 decreased slightly

  • Rice exports in 2017 forecast to remain close to last year’s level

  • Prices of wheat and wheat flour strengthened in recent months

  • Localized food insecurity persists

Favourable production prospects for 2017 wheat crop

The 2017 mostly irrigated “rabi” (winter) wheat crop, to be harvested from April, is currently in vegetative stage. Adequate irrigation water supplies and overall favourable weather conditions supported a slight expansion in plantings and are benefiting crop development in the main wheat-growing areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces, which together account for over 90 percent of the total wheat output. By contrast, in the minor rainfed-producing areas in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (located in the northwest) and Balochistan (located in the southwest), below-normal rains hindered planting operations and negatively affected growing crops. Overall, however, current official forecasts put the 2017 wheat output at a record level of 26 million tonnes, 2 percent up from the 2016 bumper output. The increase reflects the slight increase in plantings and expectations that good water availability, fertilizers and herbicides will increase average yields in main growing areas.

Paddy production in 2016 decreased slightly

Harvesting of the 2016 summer (monsoon) season maize and rice crops was completed in December 2016. The latest official estimates put the 2016 paddy output at some 10 million tonnes, 3 percent below the 2015 bumper output. This reduction was a result of a contraction in plantings, mainly in response to low domestic prices at sowing time. By contrast, the 2016 maize production increased by 4 percent to 5.2 million tonnes as a result of the slight increase in both area and yields.

Rice exports in 2017 forecast to remain close to last year’s level

FAO forecasts rice exports in calendar year 2017 at 4.2 million tonnes, close to last year’s level. The forecast reflects expectations of adequate exportable availabilities, notwithstanding the 2016 production contraction.

Wheat exports in the 2016/17 marketing year (May/April) are forecast to increase by 13 percent from the previous year’s low level to 850 000 tonnes, in line with the 2016 overall good output and large carryover stocks.

Prices of wheat and wheat flour were stable in recent months

Prices of wheat grain and wheat flour, the country’s main staples, were stable in recent months, reflecting ample supplies from the 2016 bumper harvest and favourable prospects for the 2017 crops. Overall, prices were below their year-earlier levels.

Overall food security conditions stable, but concerns remain in Tharparkar District and northern Pakistan

Overall, food security conditions in the country are stable following two consecutive years of good harvests and large carryover stocks of the main staples. However, food security concerns remain in some southeastern and northern areas of the country. In Tharparkar District and surrounding areas of Sindh Province, a below-average drought-affected cereal production for the third consecutive year, coupled with losses of small animals (in particular sheep and goats), has aggravated food insecurity and caused acute malnutrition. According to OCHA estimates, as of January 2017, about 3.2 million people were in need of humanitarian aid. Furthermore, OCHA data indicates that around 504 000 people (approximately 74 003 families) remain displaced within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, due to recurrent insecurity. These populations rely mainly on humanitarian assistance, including food aid, healthcare and other necessities.