GIEWS Country Brief: Pakistan 09-May-2017


  • Wheat production in 2017 to decrease marginally from last year’s bumper level

  • Rice exports in 2017 forecast to decrease from last year’s high level but remain above-average

  • Prices of wheat and wheat flour declined in April with new harvest

  • Localized food insecurity persists

Wheat production in 2017 to decrease marginally from last year’s bumper level

Harvesting of the 2017, mostly irrigated, “rabi” (winter) wheat crop began in late March in Sindh Province in the south and will continue until mid-June in the main producing northern Punjab area. Overall, prospects for the 2017 wheat production are positive, with FAO’s current forecast pointing to an output of 25.1 million tonnes, slightly below last year’s bumper level but above the five-year average. The small decrease is the result of a contraction in plantings in the rainfed-producing area, which account for only 10 percent of the national output, following dry conditions during the planting period from September to December 2016. The rainfed areas in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (located in the northwest) and Balochistan (located in the southwest) were the most affected by dry weather. However, adequate water supplies in the irrigated areas, coupled with the increased use of fertilizers and herbicides, boosted overall yield prospects and partly offset the decrease in plantings.

Planting of the 2017 main “kharif” maize crop is currently underway in the main growing provinces of Punjab and Sindh. The total area planted to maize this year is officially forecast at 1.2 million hectares, an increase of 5 percent compared to the 2016 high level, in response to sustained demand from the feed industry. Assuming good weather conditions, FAO tentatively forecasts the 2017 maize production at 5.5 million tonnes.

Planting of the 2017 main “kharif” rice crop is expected to start from late May. FAO’s preliminary forecast for this year’s rice output is 10.3 million tonnes, a 3 percent recovery from last year’s above-average level, assuming that plantings return closer to average after 2016’s reduced levels, supported by recoveries in local quotations.

Rice exports in 2017 to decrease from last year’s high level but remain above average

FAO forecasts Pakistan’s rice exports in calendar year 2017 at 3.9 million tonnes, 4 percent below last year’s high level but remaining above the five-year average. The year-on-year decline reflects reduced exportable availabilities, following the smaller crop obtained in 2016.

Wheat exports in the 2016/17 marketing year (May/April) are estimated to have increased 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 fell with new harvest

Prices of wheat grain and wheat flour, the country’s main staples, declined in most markets in April, when the new supplies from the 2017 harvest started to reach the markets. Overall, prices were above their year-earlier levels.

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

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 the districts of Tharparkar, Umerkot and Sanghar, located in the southeastern parts of Sindh Province, below-average rains throughout 2016 sharply reduced the 2016/17 cereal production. This, coupled with losses of small animals (in particular sheep and goats) due to diseases and severe shortage of fodder and water availability, has aggravated food insecurity and caused acute malnutrition. At this point, it is critical that the most affected households receive appropriate and timely agricultural assistance, including rice and maize seeds, irrigation tools and fertilizers for the 2017 main season crops. In the livestock sector, there is an urgent need for feed and vaccines.

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.