Following the widespread rains, major activities at present include transplantation of paddy and the start of the harvesting operations of the 2001 maize crop. The effects of the rain on fieldcrops (maize, paddy, sugar cane, groundnuts, fruit) has been beneficial and yields are satisfactory.
The rains brought relief to the country after a prolonged drought. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission from 23 May to 18 June 2001 found that rainfall was between 50 and 80 percent below normal in most parts of the country during the last winter cropping season (January-March). Last year's Monsoon rainfall (July-September) was also more than 40 percent below normal. Consequently, rainfed agriculture and vegetation in the grazing lands were severely affected.
Rainfed wheat production, estimated at about 541 000 tonnes this year, is nearly 70 percent below the average of the last five years and 62 percent below last year's reduced crop. However, as more than 90 percent of wheat production is irrigated, the overall impact of the drought is not great, though still significant. The Mission estimated total wheat production (irrigated and rainfed) this year at 18.735 million tonnes, which compares with 21 million tonnes last year. The 2001 rice crop, planted from May for harvest in October/November, is forecast at a reduced 3.9 million tonnes (milled) due to water shortages in irrigation schemes, and compares to 4.8 million tonnes in year 2000 and the average of 4.6 million tonnes for the last five years. With additional coarse grains crop of about 1.9 million tonnes, total cereal production in 2001/02 is, therefore, estimated at nearly 24.6 million tonnes.
From a national perspective, overall supplies will be just sufficient to meet the consumption requirements in 2001/02 marketing year. Domestic consumption and other utilization requirements are expected to be met from current production and drawdown of large wheat stocks from last year's good crop. Some exports of wheat due to earlier contracts are also forecast. Rice exports are anticipated to be lower than last year's volume of 2 million tonnes. However, the prolonged drought has seriously eroded the food security of a large number of farmers, particularly in Balochistan, parts of Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab.