GIEWS Country Brief: Pakistan 03-August-2016

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  • Wheat production in 2016 estimated at near‑record level
  • Rice exports forecast to increase in 2016
  • Prices of wheat and wheat flour on increase
  • Overall, food security conditions stable but localized food insecurity persists

Wheat production in 2016 estimated at near‑record level

The 2016, mostly irrigated, ‘’rabi’’ (winter) wheat crop, harvested by mid‑June, is officially estimated at 25.9 million tonnes, 2 percent above last year’s bumper level. A slight contraction in plantings for the 2016 crop was more than offset by higher yields achieved, as a result of favourable weather conditions, good water availability in the main reservoirs and adequate supply of quality seeds, fertilizers and herbicides.

Planting of the 2016 summer (monsoon) crops, mainly rice and maize, is currently ongoing. Overall, rainfall since April has been near normal over the main cereal producing areas benefiting planting activities and early crop development. However, with domestic prices for rice and maize remaining weak, there is little incentive for producers to increase sowings, and FAO forecasts the 2016 paddy and maize outputs close to their 2015 levels at 10.3 million tonnes and 4.5 million tonnes respectively. To support agricultural productivity and lower production costs, in early June, the Government extended into 2016/17 the tax and duty concessions approved under the last year’s budget. The Government has also announced cuts in prices of basic agricultural inputs, such as fertilisers and pesticides, as well as reduction of electricity tariffs for agricultural tube‑wells.

Rice exports forecast to increase in 2016

FAO anticipates 2016 rice exports by Pakistan to exceed the 2015 level by 7 percent and reach 4.4 million tonnes. Cumulative rice deliveries in the first six months of 2016 are officially put at 2.4 million tonnes, up 14 percent from the same period in 2015.

Wheat exports for the 2016/17 marketing year (May/April) are forecast to increase from last year’s low level to 700 000 tonnes, in line with the 2016 overall good output and large carryover stocks.

Prices of wheat and wheat flour on increase

Prices of wheat and wheat flour increased slightly in July, mainly reflecting relatively large quantities procured by the Government at high Minimum Support Prices and high production costs. Prices of rice were stable in most markets in recent months, owing to adequate availabilities following successive bumper harvests.

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

Overall, the food supply situation is stable following consecutive years of good harvests and large carryover stocks of the main staples. However, food security concerns remain in some areas, particularly in Tharparkar District and northern Pakistan.

In Tharparkar District (southeastern Sindh province) and the surrounding areas of Sindh Province, where cereal production shortfalls due to drought for the third consecutive year, coupled with losses of small animals, especially sheep and goats, have aggravated food insecurity and caused acute malnutrition. Furthermore, recurrent floods since March 2016, which particularly hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province located in the north-western part of the country, have exacerbated the food security situation of the affected population. The latest official assessments report losses of hundreds of lives, displacement of large numbers of people and severe damage to housing, infrastructure and agriculture in the most affected areas.

Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, located in northern Pakistan, are affected by large scale displacement due to recurrent insecurity. Authorities report that, as of early 2016, over 1 million people remained displaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.