According to provisional report of targets and achievements of Rabi crops of FY2007-08 prepared by Minfal, the huge shortfall of 1.464 million tons had been observed in the production of ongoing wheat crop as total production amounted to 21.830 million tons as against last year's output of 23.294 million tons.
Meanwhile, 132 kg shortfall has been registered in per hectare yield in current crop production as total 2596 kg per hectare yield was achieved against 2728 kg of last year's achievement.
Official sources pointed out that a huge shortfall had been observed in the wheat output in six districts of the lower Punjab that caused shortfall in the production in 2008.
Official report available with The Nation showed that wheat crop was planted on 8.410 million hectares against the target of 8.578 million hectares in current rabi crop of FY2007-08 depicting that crop was planted on 1.682 million hectares less area than the target area.
In 2007 due to surplus availability of wheat, federal government allowed the export of wheat which resulted in the hoarding of the commodity by profit mafia while government's mismanagement in handling the artificial shortage of wheat also caused severe crisis in the country.
The farmers and experts were of the view that decline in the production of wheat and active involvement of profit mafia in hoarding of commodity could result in severe shortage of this important staple food item this year. Like Shaukat Aziz government, the PPP led government was also not taking any action against the hoarders' mafia.
"If government does not take timely action against the hoarders, the wheat crisis will become more worst than last year", president Sindh Abadgar Board Abdul Majeed Nizamani said while talking to The Nation adding that government should import 5 million tons wheat rather than the import of 1.5 million tons this year. He further said that the escalating energy costs have resulted in higher world prices for fertilizers which further increased the cost of agriculture inputs in Pakistan. The continuous increase in the prices of fertilizers and other inputs resulting in a sharp yield decreases from last season, particularly in the Punjab province, which produces approximately 80 percent of the crop, he argued.
The government had not announced significant procurement price of wheat before sowing season which also resulted shift the area to other crops in current season, he maintained. Over all shortage of irrigation water, out of reach costs of DAP and other fertilizers, less start of crushing season of sugar cane which resulted in continuous capture of land by sugar cane and lack of winter rains and cool temperatures in the wheat growing areas were main reasons behind decline in the production of commodity, he concluded.