USDA Forecasts Bumper Harvest of Major Crops in Pakistan For 2023/24

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is forecasting bumper harvest of all major crops in Pakistan for 2023/24. Major crops in the country include wheat, rice, sugarcane, corn and cotton. These offer welcome relief for Pakistani farmers who suffered devastating losses in the epic floods of 2022.   

Major Crops Produced in Pakistan. Source: USDA

Pakistan is projected to produce 28 million tons of wheat,  10.5 million tons of corn (maize), 9 million tons of rice, 6.5 million bales of cotton, 7.8 million tons of sugar and 540,000 tons of rapeseed (canola) in 2023/24. Each of these production figures is significantly higher than last year's, and higher than the last 5-year average (2018-22) for the country. Potato production jumped 50% to 7.74 million tons in 2022, according to PotatoBusiness.  

Sugar Production in India and Pakistan. Source: Ragus

Pakistan will still need to import wheat but a lower amount than last year, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture. The record harvest will help lower the country’s forecasted import needs from 3 million to 2 million tons in 2023-24 even as total consumption grows to 30.2 million tonnes from 29.2 million tons. Pakistan imported 2.6 million tons last marketing year.

Higher cotton production in Pakistan will result in 2.3 million tons of cottonseed oil in 2023/24, a 34% increase over the 2022/23 output. This increase reflects expectations for a recovery in yield following the flood-damaged 2022/23 output. This will help reduce cooking oil imports, the country's largest food import, this year. Last year, Pakistan imported $4.5 billion worth of edible oil

Pakistan expects to export 5 million tons of rice worth $3 billion this year. India's ban on non-basmati rice exports will likely help Pakistani exporters fetch higher prices on the world market. 

Global Rice Market 2023. Source: Reuters

Pakistan's agriculture output is the 10th largest in the world. The country produces large and growing quantities of cereals, meat, milk, fruits and vegetables. Currently, Pakistan produces over 40 million tons of cereals (mainly wheat, rice and corn), 17 million tons of fruits and vegetables, 70 million tons of sugarcane, 60 million tons of milk and 4.5 million tons of meat.  Total value of the nation's agricultural output exceeds $50 billion. Improving agriculture inputs and modernizing value chains can help the farm sector become much more productive to serve both domestic and export markets.  

Related Links:

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Pakistan Leads South Asia in Agriculture Value Addition

Median Incomes in India and Pakistan


Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s potato production soared to 7.9m tonnes in Fiscal Year 2022 from 5.8m tonnes in FY 2021, up by 35% as floods did not hit Punjab which is a hub of potato production, Pakistan Today! cited data reveals.

There is a gradual increase in potato production in this country. During 2020, potato production was estimated to be 4.55m tons utilizing the cultivated area of 234,400 hectares. However, in the 2021- 2022 season, according to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research Statistics (MNFS&R), potato production jumped to 7.74m tons, which is an increase of almost 50% as compared to the last year.

Pakistan potato is exported mainly to CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries like Russia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, UAE, Oman, the entire gulf, and Singapore, Malaysia in the Far East.

In Pakistan, potato is the fourth most important crop after wheat, rice, and corn. It is one of the four major staples that significantly contribute to national domestic consumption and food needs.

Fresh potato production for the 2022-2023 Marketing Year (September to August) is forecast at 93m metric tons (MMT), a slight decrease from the estimated 95 MMT produced in MY 2021-2022 owing to reduced acreage. According to industry sources, the potato planting area decreased in the northern single crop zone, especially in northeast China, due to government incentives and price supports intended to boost soybean production.

Low prices at the start of the harvest season in the Southwestern, Central, and Winter crop zones, which account for half of China’s fresh potato production, also contributed to the reduction in planted area for MY 2022/23. According to China’s 2022 Agricultural Outlook Report on Potatoes, the average wholesale price of fresh potatoes in 2021 was USD0.15/lb., a 12.7% decline from 2020, and the lowest level in six years.

Riaz Haq said…
Aging populations will shake up the global economy by 2050

Earlier this year, the United Nations put out new data showing that China, which has been the most populous country in the world for at least the last 70 years, has been overtaken by India in population size.

And, based on population projections for the next few decades, that’s far from the only big demographic shift we’ll be seeing in the near future.

Lauren Leatherby is a visual journalist with the New York Times who has been looking into what those demographic shifts will mean for economies around the world. She joined Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal to talk about how the world will shift by 2050. An edited transcript of their conversation is below.

Kai Ryssdal: On paper, or, as it were, on the internet, this is great story because the graphics are kind of amazing. And they really illustrate it. It’s a little trickier to do on the radio, but that’s fine. That’s kind of my job. I do wonder, though, how you got interested in this story.

Lauren Leatherby: The richest most powerful countries today have long had these really large working-age populations. And economists agree that that’s been a huge, huge advantage economically and geopolitically. And meanwhile, a lot of developing nations have had quite high dependency ratios having a high number of children compared to working-age people. And so, I think we know a lot of these storylines one by one, but putting it all together, it’s just like the world is going to shift really dramatically.

Ryssdal: The example that comes up pretty early in this piece is, of course, Japan, which has already started to make that shift from having a good, robust, working-years workforce to a much older population with far fewer workers.

Leatherby: Absolutely. And then I think what we see in Japan today is only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of East Asia, China, Europe, South Korea will be much older than Japan is today, in just you know, 20 or 30 years. Some countries will have upwards of 40% of their population that are 65 or older in just two or three decades. And meanwhile, on the other end, you have a lot of these other countries that have long been, you know, hindered economically by their age structures. And suddenly a lot of them will start to enjoy the exact same age structures that Europe and East Asia, the U.S., that a lot of those countries have historically enjoyed.

Ryssdal: Right. So what happens in a population, what happens in a country, when that shift happens when that prime-age workforce is big enough to support all the retirees? What does it let that country do? What is the opportunity?

Leatherby: The upside can be absolutely enormous. Some of the best research is that a third of the economic growth in East Asia at the end of the last century is because of this concept of a demographic dividend. But what the experts who I spoke to were very cautious to say is that it’s not automatic.

Ryssdal: It’s not automatic, but we’ve been told, and I say this every now and then, that demographics is destiny. And yet, actually, maybe it’s not.

Leatherby: Yeah, because it can go multiple ways. I mean, if you have the policies in place with education, with good jobs, then that can be a tremendous upside. But I think the perilous thing that we worry about is extremism. I mean, what studies have shown is that [for] a lot of people that turn to extremism, it’s not because of religious ideology, it’s because it’s a better job opportunity. It’s economics. And so it’s just going to be really critical that these places that have suddenly a huge number of, like, healthy 21-year-olds, that they have jobs and education for those people.

Riaz Haq said…
#Arab Gulf Nations (#SaudiArabia, #Qatar, #UAE) Poised to Invest Billions in #Pakistan.
#Islamabad’s powerful #military has sought to ease the path for oil-rich monarchies to acquire stakes in #mining (#copper, #gold) & #energy (#refinery) via @WSJ

The Saudis are in talks to buy into a copper mine being developed at a cost of $7 billion by Canada’s Barrick Gold in western Pakistan, according to people familiar with the project. Separately, negotiations are at an advanced stage to set up a Saudi oil refinery in Pakistan, which could cost up to $14 billion, according to Islamabad and Gulf officials.

For the Gulf states, the deals represent a shift from when they provided loans or grants to poorer countries in the region, such as Pakistan or Egypt, to a new focus on acquiring assets for their sovereign-wealth funds.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 240 million, has been racked by an economic crisis and political instability. It reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund in June on another bailout.

Its powerful military, which has clamped down on political freedoms in recent months, is seeking to ease the path for investment by streamlining the deal-making process for Gulf investors, who had complained about red tape and political indecision in the past.

Mining, energy infrastructure, farmland and privatizations of Pakistani government businesses could all be part of the planned selloff to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which are increasingly competing for assets in struggling political allies.

This summer, Islamabad established the Special Investment Facilitation Council, which includes the army chief, to smooth the bureaucratic path for Gulf investment.

“Pakistan is strategically located, at the junction of the engines of growth in Asia, between south Asia, central Asia, China and the Middle East,” said Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s departing planning minister, who also heads the executive committee of the Special Investment Facilitation Council. “There is a very big opportunity for investors to come here, as long as we can give them assurance that there will be continuity of policy for their investment.”

The Saudi deputy mining and foreign ministers visited Islamabad this month for talks about the investment initiative.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Wednesday that Parliament would dissolve, ahead of elections that are likely to be delayed into next year. The installment of a nonpolitical caretaker government in Islamabad in the next few days, to oversee the period up to the next election, is expected to kick-start the deals. New powers have been given to the caretaker administration, which will likely be under even greater influence of the military, to enable it to make major economic decisions.

The army is Pakistan’s dominant institution, a permanent power in a country where no prime minister has completed a term in office. The Gulf has long dealt directly with Pakistan’s army, the sixth largest in the world, which has provided a contingent of troops to Saudi Arabia for decades. The first overseas trip for Pakistan’s current army chief, Gen. Asim Munir, was to Saudi Arabia, where he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in January.

A splurge in Pakistan is expected to come from government-owned entities in the Gulf, which in recent years have invested in Egypt, a country also in the midst of an asset sale, as well as Sudan, Ethiopia and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa.

“For the Gulf, Pakistan and Egypt are a regional security priority,” said Karen E. Young, a researcher at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “They absolutely cannot afford to see a failed state in Egypt or Pakistan.”

Riaz Haq said…
#Arab Gulf Nations (#SaudiArabia, #Qatar, #UAE) Poised to Invest Billions in #Pakistan.
#Islamabad’s powerful #military has sought to ease the path for oil-rich monarchies to acquire stakes in #mining (#copper, #gold) & #energy (#refinery) via @WSJ

Egypt and Pakistan offer big populations, large tracts of arable land and huge armies, all attributes lacking in the Gulf, said Faisal Aftab, founder of Pakistan-based Zayn Venture Capital.

“This is a last chance for Pakistan,” said Aftab. “It needs to leverage in investment.”

Iqbal, the planning minister, said Pakistan was hoping for deals worth around $25 billion, including in solar energy and information technology. Pakistan’s defense industries are also open for investment, and the country is prepared to offer uncultivated government land on long leases for agriculture.

The Gulf nations haven’t put figures in recent weeks on how much they might spend. In January this year, the Saudis said they were willing to invest $10 billion, after Pakistan’s army chief visited.

Economic crises in Egypt and Pakistan, which have been buffeted by higher fuel and food prices from the Russia-Ukraine war and seen their currencies plummet, mean that assets are potentially available on the cheap. But Riyadh has still balked at prices in Egypt, meaning fewer deals than anticipated have materialized so far. Pakistan will also have to manage competition between Gulf nations for assets, already being felt, especially between Saudi Arabia and U.A.E., which have strained relations.

Among the first contracts likely to attract interest, from both U.A.E. and Qatar, is a tender announced this week, by open bidding, to run terminal services at Islamabad airport. The two Gulf countries fiercely competed for the contract to run Kabul airport in Pakistan’s neighbor Afghanistan, a contest won last year by the U.A.E. Islamabad is also looking for investors to take on its national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines.

Musadik Malik, Pakistan’s departing petroleum minister, said that a deal for a Saudi refinery was “very close.” Saudi Aramco, the company named by Pakistani officials as its partner for the project, declined to comment. The refinery would likely be located at Gwadar, the port developed by China on the Arabian Sea, and the centerpiece of Beijing’s investment program in ally Pakistan. Riyadh is moving closer to Beijing, at the expense of its relationship with Washington.

Officials from both sides are aiming for a final deal on the refinery—which would be the country’s biggest—by the end of this year, with construction to begin early in 2024.

Malik said that he anticipated a series of mining deals that would be much bigger in value than the refinery contract.

“We have enormous untapped resources just sitting there,” he said.

The obvious prize is copper, a metal needed in the transition to cleaner energy. One of the world’s biggest new copper mines is expected to begin production in 2028. The Reko Diq mine is a joint venture between Barrick Gold and the government of Pakistan, in a remote part of the country hit by two violent insurgencies.

Talks are under way for the Saudis to buy into the Reko Diq mine. The Saudi sovereign-wealth fund, Public Investment Fund, would team up with Saudi mining company Ma’aden, to acquire part of the 50% stake in the mine owned by Pakistan, according to people involved. In addition, the Saudis could be given exploration rights in other parts of the copper-rich area.

Riaz Haq said…
#Arab Gulf Nations (#SaudiArabia, #Qatar, #UAE) Poised to Invest Billions in #Pakistan.
#Islamabad’s powerful #military has sought to ease the path for oil-rich monarchies to acquire stakes in #mining (#copper, #gold) & #energy (#refinery) via @WSJ

Riyadh has ambitions to turn Ma’aden into a global company, but it is wary of the security risks at the Pakistani mine. In July, Saudi Arabia said it would buy a $2.5 billion stake in Brazilian mining company Vale, also through the same fund and Ma’aden.

For Islamabad, there are strategic advantages to tying Saudi Arabia in, while Barrick has joined with Saudi Arabia elsewhere too. Barrick and Ma’aden didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Public Investment Fund declined to comment.

The Saudis are the most interested in the mining opportunities, say officials and experts, while the U.A.E. is looking most keenly at agriculture, clean energy and logistics.

Just ahead of the launch of the Gulf initiative, the U.A.E. swooped in early, acquiring a 50-year lease in June to operate part of the container terminal at Karachi port. The financial terms weren’t disclosed for the deal, which was awarded without an open bidding process. Many coming transactions are also not expected to involve competitive bidding, Pakistani officials say. That approach could open the divestments up to domestic controversy.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan expects Middle Eastern investment following inaugural food and agriculture exhibition

A top Pakistani official expressed confidence on Thursday the country would get increased investment from the Middle East after inaugurating the first International Food and Agriculture Exhibition in Karachi to display the export potential of Pakistan’s agriculture sector.

Organized by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), the three-day exhibition was launched by the governor of Sindh province, Kamran Tessori, at the Karachi Expo Center. The event has brought together over 200 exhibitors who have put a wide range of agriproducts and technologies on show for foreign delegates from 55 countries.

Addressing the media after the inauguration ceremony, Tessori mentioned a recent agreement signed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to develop the Karachi port.

“You will see in the coming days that all the gulf states will come to Pakistan and sign agreements like the UAE,” Tessori said, adding: “In the future, these agreements will be signed by governments themselves.”

UAE’s Abu Dhabi Ports signed a 50-year concession agreement with the Karachi Port Trust earlier this year to develop a bulk and general cargo terminal in the southern port city.

According to details, Pakistan is likely to see an estimated investment of $220 million over a period of 10 years under the project.

The governor said the country’s leadership had become serious about economic development for the first time in its history.

“For the first time in 75 years, the development of Pakistan’s economy has been taken seriously and there will not be any obstruction in the way,” he said.

He maintained that he was confident the country’s exports would increase at least three times by the coming year.

Tessori said over 600 foreign delegates were attending the exhibition which reflected that investor confidence had been restored in Pakistan.

Speaking to Arab News, Sayed Mohey, a commercial manager at Jeddah-based Jahaf Group that deals with fruits and vegetables, said he was impressed by Pakistan’s export potential.

“This is my first visit to the county,” he said. “As far as the business is concerned, there is lot of potential for food stuff like fruits, vegetables, and fisheries.”

He maintained that Pakistan was ideally placed to serve the markets in gulf countries and Saudi Arabia. Mohey specifically mentioned Pakistani mangoes and citrus fruits, calling them the best in the world and saying they were suitable for consumers in the Middle East.

A Nigerian delegation also said they were visiting Pakistan while looking for the good quality food products.

“Most of the Nigerian delegates who are here today actually saw what they want and they are buying it and taking it home,” Unegbu Alexander Nwachukwu, trade and development officer at the High Commission of Pakistan in Nigeria, told Arab News.

A large number of Chinese were also present at the exhibition and looking for products either to import or export from Pakistan.

Alan Xi, an agriculture project manager at the China Machinery Engineering Corporation, said Pakistan’s agriculture sector had great potential and his company was ready to invest in the country.

“Pakistan is an agricultural country and has a big potential in the supply chain and even value-added parts,” he told Arab News. “So, as a company, we are also ready for investing in the supply chain and value addition.”

“In the future, we will not only want to supply some advanced technology to Pakistan but also like to have our own manufacturers [here],” he continued. “The manufacturer unit is from China, but made in Pakistan.”

Pakistani exporter also expressed optimism the event would help boost the country’s agriculture product exports from the country.

Riaz Haq said…
Domino effect: India rice export ban puts market on edge for copycat curbs

India's rice export ban leaves 10 mln T of world supply gap
Rival rice suppliers could raise exports by 3 mln T
Other producers may limit exports as local prices rally
Tighter global supplies to heighten food inflation worries


This time, rice exporters will be unable to increase exports by more than 3 million metric tonnes a year as they try to fulfil local demand amid limited surplus, three dealers with global trade houses told Reuters.

Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan, the world's second, third and fourth biggest exporters, respectively, have said they are keen to boost sales since demand for their crops has been rising after India's ban.

Both Thailand and Vietnam emphasised that they will ensure their domestic consumers are not hurt by rising exports.

"It's unacceptable for a rice-exporting country to face tight supplies and high domestic prices," Vietnam Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien said last week.

Pakistan, recovering from last year's devastating floods, could export 4.5 million to 5.0 million tons from the current year's 3.6 million tons, according to an official with the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP).

But the country is unlikely to allow unrestricted exports amid double-digit inflation, the official said.

The leading importers of non-basmati rice include the Philippines, China, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, Malaysia, Cote d'Ivoire, and Bangladesh.

Global prices have risen by around 20% since India's ban. A further 15% gain could trigger restrictions by Thailand and Vietnam, according to traders at international trading companies.

"The question is not whether they will limit exports, but rather how much they will restrict and when they will take such measures," said a New Delhi-based trader.

This week, rice prices in Thailand and Vietnam soared to 15-year highs as buyers rushed to cover shipments to compensate for the decline in India's exports.
Riaz Haq said…
Chinese red chilli contract farming opens vistas for development in Pakistan’s agri sector | Pakistan Today

“We turn them three to four times a day so that they get dry after being soaked in the summer sun, they get fully ripe and dry in five weeks, and when we hear the sound of dried seeds rattling inside the pod, we pack them in bags and put them in storage, Bibi told Xinhuain the remote village of Jamber.

This year, farmers and labourers are happy to get a bumper harvest of Chinese red chillies and expect to get good profits as the yield is double that of other varieties of pepper available in Pakistan.

The project is a part of a large-scale agricultural cooperation between Pakistan and China in the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is currently underway after the success of the first phase focusing on infrastructure and power projects.

Launched in 2013, CPEC is a corridor linking Gwadar Port with Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and is touted as a game changer for Pakistan by local experts.

Advancing cooperation in the agricultural sector, China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) and Sichuan Litong Food Group have established a company and carried out a red chilli contract farming project in 2021, with model farms across Punjab.

In talks with Xinhua, Xi Jianlong, the Chinese manager from CMEC at Pakistan-China red chilli contract farming, said that the Chinese variety is compatible with local soil and the overall hot climate of Punjab province conduces to the growth and nourishing of the Chinese chilli variety.

He added that the cooperation benefits numerous individuals, including landowners, farmers, and labourers.

“Last year, we had created more than 2,000 jobs in Pakistan and generated an output value of approximately $770,000,” he said, adding that when the crop is harvested and dried, they directly buy it from the farmer, without involving any middlemen.

He further said that this year, they planted chilli on about 750 acres of land from where about 1,500 tons of chilli were harvested, and during the process of cultivation to harvest, the Chinese company not only transferred knowledge and technology to locals but also utilized the rural labour force.

Talking to Xinhua, Muhammad Ammar Asghar, an agronomist working with the CMEC, said that most of the farmers hired by the landowners are uneducated. In order to help the landowner get a high yield, the Chinese company provided complete assistance and guidance to the farmers through agronomists and agriculture technicians.
Riaz Haq said…
How India’s ban on some rice exports is ricocheting around the world
India’s decision to ban exports of some rice was based on domestic reasons, but it’s had a global impact.

Last month, three days after Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal, India imposed a ban on July 20 on the export of non-basmati white rice. The move followed a ban on the export of broken rice, which was announced in September last year and is still in place.

India’s reasons were domestic — rising food prices, high inflation and fear of rice shortage due to El Nino disruptions as the country heads into a festive season and elections — but the bans’ impact is now being felt globally, with prices shooting up.

“Earlier rice was trading for $550 per metric tonne, now prices are hovering above $650,” Nitin Gupta, senior vice president of Olam Agri India Private Limited, one of India’s biggest rice exporters, told Al Jazeera.

Here’s an explainer on India’s role in the global rice market and how elections, climate change and El Nino are complicating rice prices.

India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, accounted for nearly 40 percent of global rice trade in 2022, exporting 22 million tonnes worth $9.66bn to 140 countries. That included 4.5 million tonnes of basmati rice, 8 million tonnes parboiled rice, 6 million tonnes non-basmati white rice, and 3.5 million tonnes broken rice.

India continues to export parboiled and basmati rice, meeting its international commitments halfway, but global rice prices have increased by 15-25 percent since the ban. Worst hit are the poor in countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, who depend on Indian white rice, and those in African countries like Benin, Senegal, Togo, and Mali, which import broken rice — the cheapest and most filling variety.

International prices for grains had already shot up due to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Prices have further rallied since Russia walked out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which would have allowed grain from Ukraine to reach world markets.

And now, in addition to India’s rice ban is the fear that Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan – which together account for 30 percent of global rice sales – may do similar copycat bans in case their crops are hurt by El Nino, which has returned for the first time in seven years.

Traders and scientists say a shortage of rice, a staple for more than half of the world’s population, will have a spillover impact on wheat, soya beans, corn and maize, which are used as rice substitutes both for human consumption and in animal feed. This could lead to a domino effect on the demand and prices of not just other food items, but also fuel.
Riaz Haq said…
Syngenta Pakistan, one of the leading agriculture companies has partnered with China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) to revolutionize sustainable food systems, bridging small farmers and end-to-end value chains for enhanced efficiency and food security.

“The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for seeds, pesticides and agriculture services in chili, corn, tomato and sesame cultivation,” Vice GM CMEC Pakistan, Dai Bao told Gwadar Pro.

The signing was held at Pakistan’s First International Food and Agriculture Exhibition titled FoodAg 2023 at Expo Centre, Karachi.

Several MoU signings took place at the event. On the sideline of the exhibition, CE TDAP and Secretary Commerce held several meetings on B2B trade with individual delegations to discuss possible future collaborations and introduced Pakistan as one of the top ten producers of agriculture produce in the world.

They engaged in productive conversations on Pakistan’s export potential and how to increase the numbers while sustaining ethical and smart practices in farming, growing and packaging.

There were conversations on the treatment and export of livestock and related products too. The three-day event featured 400+ products, 200+ exhibitors and over400 international buyers to promote the untapped potential of Pakistan’s food agriculture industry.

Riaz Haq said…
Annual milk production during 2021/2022 was estimated approximately 65.7 million tonnes, giving Pakistan a place in the list of world's top 5 milk producing countries. Dairy farming in Pakistan is fragmented and practiced on various scales both in rural and peri-urban areas mainly by private sector.

Dairy sector in Pakistan plays a pivotal role in the national economy and its value is more than the
combined value of major cash-crops i.e. wheat and cotton. Annual milk production during 2021/2022 was
estimated approximately 65.7 million tonnes, giving Pakistan a place in the list of world’s top 5 milk
producing countries. Dairy farming in Pakistan is fragmented and practiced on various scales both in rural
and peri-urban areas mainly by private sector. However, this industry is facing challenges (nutrition,
healthcare, breeding, government support and public health) that threaten its sustainability and
livelihoods of millions of people involved in the sector
Riaz Haq said…

India’s surging food prices are a problem not just for India
Costly government action could raise prices elsewhere

To taste the effects of inflation in India, visit a fast-food restaurant. Sandwiches at Subway no longer come with a free cheese slice. Burgers at McDonald’s and Burger King are tomato-free. Restaurants are scrimping because of soaring food costs. Local eateries are hiking up the prices of tomato-based dishes—a staple across the country. In July vegetable prices increased by 37% year on year; tomato prices at some wholesale markets have surged by 1,400% over the past three months. All told, the annual food-inflation rate jumped to 11.5% in July, the highest in more than three years, pushing overall inflation to a 15-month high of 7.4%

Food prices have surged largely because of erratic weather. Heavy rains in many parts of the country have submerged farmland and disrupted supply chains. Elsewhere, heat has withered crops. At the end of July farmers across India had sown 40% less than they normally would have done by that point in the year. And now an exceptionally dry August threatens to hurt output further. Rainfall this month is set to be the lowest in more than a century.

The Reserve Bank of India is holding its nerve for now. On August 10th the central bank left interest rates unchanged for its third consecutive meeting since April. Shaktikanta Das, its governor, believes that the spike in food costs is temporary and expects prices to start falling from September. Some analysts disagree. Historically, vegetable prices have tended to increase during the monsoon months of June to September before falling back. But some economists believe that the current rise will last longer.

The government is being more proactive than the central bank. On August 19th it imposed a 40% tax on onion exports, hoping to increase domestic supply and push down prices. That announcement followed an export ban on some varieties of rice and a removal of import restrictions on tomatoes from neighbouring Nepal. The food ministry is also releasing some of its grain stocks into the market to hold down prices. More subsidised tomatoes and onions are being offered to poor households. The government is expected to spend 1trn rupees ($12bn) all told to rein in food prices.

That is understandable. With important state elections coming up and a general election scheduled for next year, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party knows that Indian voters won’t put up with expensive food. According to a national survey published last week, perceptions of the central government’s performance have fallen in recent months, partly because of inflation. Around 59% of people now believe it is doing a good job, down from 67% in January.

India’s policy responses may help contain the cost of living, but they could raise it elsewhere. Global rice prices have shot up since India restricted exports of the grain. That will hurt billions of people: about 80% of the world’s population lives in countries that are net importers of food. But climate change is likely to make policies like India’s more common.■

Riaz Haq said…
Google Gen AI on Agtech in Pakistan:

Pakistan is one of the world's largest producers and suppliers of food and crops. The country's agriculture sector consists of four subsectors:
Food and fiber crops
Horticulture and orchards
Livestock and dairy
Fisheries and forestry
Pakistan's major crops include wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, and maize. These crops contribute around 4.9% to the country's total GDP.
Some of the top agriculture startups in Pakistan include: Pak Agri Market, ZD&K Farms, Radical Growth, Mohalla, Khalis Fertilizers.
Some of the top agritech startups in Pakistan include:
Tazah Technologies
Agriculture Republic Pakistan
Crop2X Private Limited
Fowrry Technologies Private Limited
Startups in Pakistan are developing IoT solutions for smart irrigation, such as solar-powered tube wells, or for animal data, such as Cowlar, a solar-powered fitbit for cows.

Riaz Haq said…
Why aren’t farmers using new tech?
Kai Ryssdal and Sofia Terenzio
Aug 30, 2023

Agtech, short for agriculture technology, is a growing industry that’s using data tools and software to help farmers improve yields and use fewer resources.

With population growth increasing the global demand for food and climate change hurting crop yields, a swift adoption of agtech may be needed now more than ever. Yet, farmers are hesitant about embracing these new technologies.

What’s in the way of farmers quickly adopting agtech, and how can the industry get more farmers on board?

“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal talked to reporter Belle Lin from the Wall Street Journal about her recent article on why so few farmers are using agtech. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kai Ryssdal: Could we have a quick primer, please? What is agtech?

Belle Lin: Absolutely. Agriculture technology, agtech is really the set of tools — both hardware and software — that enables farmers growers to really get the most out of their farming resources and inputs and up boosting their yields. So that’s really the goal of this kind of current wave of farm technology. But it’s really the kind of larger ecosystem software, hardware, robotics, tractors autonomous maybe that allow farmers to kind of do their work with greater efficiency.

Ryssdal: So two things that you said there one yield and current wave, we’ll get to the yield in a minute. But I want to talk about current wave, because as you pointed out, in this piece, it’s been a decade-ish, that that sort of the bigger picture, agtech thing has been a thing.

Lin: That’s right. So it’s about a decade since data analytics and what’s sometimes known as Big Data came around. So, these massive amounts of data that oftentimes companies collect, can also be collected on Americans farms, where some of the environments where the richest data is to be collected. You can collect it on almost every single specific piece of land on the soil itself on the seeds that are planted, where they’re planted down to the type of pesticide that is applied to a single weed where that weed is located. So you can understand, you know, how specific these things can get. And that’s related to this idea of precision agriculture, where all these like very specific inputs tailored to a specific farm, help a farmer to end up doing their work in a way that’s more informed by that data, and boosts their yields with fewer resources.

Ryssdal: Right, so to that yield thing, that’s the name of this whole game — it’s getting more stuff out of the ground per acre farmed than they did before. And there’s an amazing statistic in here it says, according to the Department of Agriculture in 2017, farmers using digital soil maps, which are part of this technology produced about 49% higher winter wheat yields than farmers who didn’t. Again, that’s USDA data. And yet, the thrust of this piece is that farmers almost have too much data and kind of know what to do with it.

Lin: Yeah, absolutely. So not only is there this kind of challenge of getting farmers to use these tools, but once they’ve used them, they face this kind of data paralysis, which is how a farmer described this to me, he’s farming corn and soybean. He feels like he’s collecting so much data on all these different parts of his farm, that he doesn’t know what to do with it. And so that’s a huge problem as well across sectors where, you know, big data, data analytics has promised to kind of deliver all these efficiencies and productivity gains. But oftentimes, what consumers and these farmers feel is that they don’t have that background to say, “OK, now that I know the moisture levels of all my soil, this is what I should do,” right.
Riaz Haq said…
Why aren’t farmers using new tech?
Kai Ryssdal and Sofia Terenzio
Aug 30, 2023

Lin: Yeah, absolutely. So not only is there this kind of challenge of getting farmers to use these tools, but once they’ve used them, they face this kind of data paralysis, which is how a farmer described this to me, he’s farming corn and soybean. He feels like he’s collecting so much data on all these different parts of his farm, that he doesn’t know what to do with it. And so that’s a huge problem as well across sectors where, you know, big data, data analytics has promised to kind of deliver all these efficiencies and productivity gains. But oftentimes, what consumers and these farmers feel is that they don’t have that background to say, “OK, now that I know the moisture levels of all my soil, this is what I should do,” right.

Ryssdal: I do not want to sound by any means ageist here, and apologies to the young farmers out there. But the average age of a farmer in this economy right now, as you point out is like 58.

Lin: Yeah, and that’s a big problem. Those folks are not as accustomed to utilizing technology to help inform their decisions.

Ryssdal: This is perhaps a little bit of field. But there’s an infrastructure part of this as well, right, in that a lot of almost all of this probably counts on connectivity and broadband. And I imagine if you’re out in in wherever you are on the Great Plains connectivity might be bad, you might not have service.

Lin: Yeah, that’s a great point. All of what we’re talking about in terms of agtech relies on having that internet connection, reliable way of streaming the data that you collect. And so connectivity is a major problem on farms that are far flung or not as connected to the internet speeds that people in cities are used to. And so one of the problems that farmers run into is that when they’re driving their equipment over a hill, for instance, you might have connectivity and one side of the hill, but you don’t on the other.

Ryssdal: Not to put a depressing punctuation mark on this conversation, but there are — I honestly can’t remember if it’s 8 or 9 billion people on this planet now — but there are going to be more in the future. And we have to feed them all. And this is part of the way we’re going to do it and adjust to climate change too, by the way.

Lin: Yeah, theoretically, farmers could boost their yields, and that would generate more food to feed the world’s growing and hungry population, and also in a way that they’re using fewer resources. So that’s the promise of it all, but right now it’s falling a bit short.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's interim PM says Saudi Arabia to invest $25 bln over next five years

By Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam

ISLAMABAD, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will invest up to $25 billion in Pakistan over the next two to five years in various sectors, Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said on Monday, adding his government would also revive a stalled privatisation process.

The South Asian nation is embarking on a tricky path to economic recovery under a caretaker government after a $3 billion loan programme, approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July, averted a sovereign debt default.

Kakar, speaking to journalists at his official residence, said Saudi Arabia's investment would come in the mining, agriculture and information technology sectors, and was a part of a push to increase foreign direct investment in Pakistan.

There was no immediate response to a Reuters request to the Saudi Arabian government for comment on Kakar's remarks.

If confirmed, a series of investments worth $25 billion would be the biggest ever by the kingdom in Pakistan.

A longtime ally of Riyadh, Pakistan is dealing with a balance of payments crisis and requires billions of dollars in foreign exchange to finance its trade deficit and repay its international debts in the current financial year.

Kakar did not specify projects Riyadh was looking at for investment, but last month Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) said it was open to bringing in Saudi Arabia's wealth fund as one of its partners in Pakistan's Reko Diq gold and copper mine.

Pakistan's untapped mineral deposits are conservatively valued at about $6 trillion, said Kakar, whose government is meant to be an interim set up to oversee national elections scheduled for November but are expected to be delayed by months.

Barrick considers the Reko Diq mine one of the world's largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas and it owns a 50% stake, with the remaining 50% owned by the governments of Pakistan and the province of Balochistan.

Kakar also said his government would push to complete two privatisation deals, probably for state-run power sector entities, in the next six months, and would also look to privatise another government owned enterprise outside the energy sector.

Pakistan's state owned enterprises have long been an area of concern with bleeding financials adding to financial stress. Recently Pakistan added struggling state-run Pakistan International Airlines to the privatisation list again.

The privatisation process has largely stalled in the country with selling of state assets a politically sensitive issue that many elected governments have shied away from.

Reporting by Gibran Peshimam; Additional reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi in Riyadh; Editing by William Maclean
Riaz Haq said…
From Google Generative AI:

Wheat is Pakistan's most important crop, accounting for 70% of production and 37.1% of the crop area. It's a staple food crop that's critical to millions of households.
Pakistan has released 31 wheat varieties since 2021 to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production. One leading Pakistani seed company developed a hybrid wheat seed that's 40% higher per acre than conventional varieties.
Other high-yield crops in Pakistan include:
Tarnab Rehbar and Tarnab Gandum-1
These zinc-enriched varieties contain 40% more zinc than other varieties grown in Pakistan. They also have farmer-preferred traits like high yield and resistance to rust diseases.

This new Bt. cotton variety has high yield potential and is best suited for wheat-cotton cropping patterns. It yielded significantly compared with standard varieties.
Other major crops in Pakistan include: Cotton, Rice, Sugarcane, Maize.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s potato production soared to 7.937 million tonnes in FY22 from 5.873 million tonnes in FY21, up 35 percent as the devastating floods left Punjab, the potato hub, mostly unscathed.

Pakistan China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) President Moazzam Ghurki during a think tank session held at PCJCCI Secretariat on Wednesday said Pakistan could be among the largest exporters of potato and though the country was self-sufficient in the food item, it imported 20,000 tonnes of potato seeds every year.

He suggested focusing on increasing the supply of local seeds, which could help save the precious foreign exchange reserves, which was spent on purchasing seeds from the international market, while at the same time increase the income of farmers.

If Pakistan succeeds in large-scale production of local high-quality potatoes, it could also export these edible stems to other countries, particularly in the Gulf region.

PCJCCI president added that most of the potato seeds in Pakistan had high dependence on imports, which raised the initial cost of potato production.

“About 35-40 percent of the cost goes to seeds, and there is a dire need to make it cost-effective for the low-income farmers,” Ghurki said. He urged to promote a tissue-culture laboratory for the production of affordable high-quality seeds within the country on a large scale to reduce dependence on foreign seeds.

PCJCCI Senior Vice President Fang Yulong said that Pakistani and Chinese enterprises have been working tirelessly to find opportunities for cooperation in this sector. In addition to seed production, related potato by-products are also welcomed by Chinese investors. Besides this, mechanised harvesting, pest control are also full of opportunities for investment.

“To build Pakistan’s largest potato tissue culture lab, various Chinese agricultural enterprises are involved for its practical implementation,” he added. “The most common potato diseases in Pakistan include early blight, stem rot and so on.

In contrast, Chinese varieties are more resistant to pests and diseases with higher yields, which is exactly what Pakistan needs to learn to improve our own potato germplasm,” Yulong said.

PCJCCI Vice President Hamza Khalid said, “We must ensure localised production of high-quality seeds, and at the same time improve planting technology and mechanisation level. Then we might be able to export potatoes to other countries. We have a huge potential for countries that have smaller land areas or don’t produce much of their own potatoes.”
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s annual consumption of edible oil is around 5 million tons, but due to the low economic potential of oilseeds in the local market, they are not preferred by the farmers. The country has to import about 89 percent of oil to meet the demand, spending US$3.6 billion annually.

Pakistan’s iron brother, China, also has great demand for edible oil. Last year, China’s cooking oil consumption is about 13.44 million tons. China also suffered a short domestic supply of edible oil until the mid-1950s, when China began to promote brassica napus, also known as victory rapeseed. Brassica napus plants are tall, disease resistant, and more importantly, the yield is very high. The improvement of rapeseed varieties laid the foundation for China to greatly increase rapeseed production.

In recent years, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) has made a great breakthrough in breeding new varieties of rapeseed, which have been extended to some parts of northern China. Rapeseed now realized seasonal rotation with rice, wheat and other staple crops, which maximizes the utilization of arable land. Such Chinese experience and technologies can be a good reference for Pakistan, according to CEN.

Chinese company Wuhan Qingfa-Hesheng and a Pakistani company Evyol Group jointly provide high-quality hybrid rapeseeds to Pakistani farmers. “It took us 10 years to produce a variety that is compatible with the local climate, produces a good yield and is good for human health,” said Ghazanfar Ali, head of marketing in the Evyol group. “The crop provides an increased profit for the farmers. They can get 1.5 tons of yield out of 2 acres of land, which is over 10 percent more than the yield from other varieties currently available in Pakistan.”

“This year we sold 11 tons of seeds across Pakistan, which will be cultivated on 20,000 acres, and our target for next year is 100 tons,” said Zhou Xusheng, director of the international business department of Wuhan Qingfa-Hesheng Seed company.

The Chinese company will also buy back the canola harvest from some of the farmers and send it to the edible oil factories so that both farmer and the factory owners can realize the potential and health benefits of the oil.
Riaz Haq said…
Cotton crop expected to grow by more than twice - Profit by Pakistan Today

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s agricultural sector is gearing up for a transformative year with an anticipated 126.6% surge in cotton production. The revelation came to light during the High-Powered Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA)’s meeting convened to assess the agricultural landscape for the upcoming Rabi Season (2023-24).

As per details, the meeting held on October 11, at Pak Secretariat, Islamabad, was presided over by Prof. Dr. Kauser Abdullah Malik, the Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research.

The projections presented in the meeting indicate that the cotton production for the 2023-24 season is expected to reach a staggering 11.5 million bales, harvested from an extensive area covering 2.4 million hectares. This marks an increase of 126.6% over the previous season and showcases Pakistan’s ability to achieve substantial growth in its agricultural output, specifically in the cotton sector.

During the meeting, the FCA meticulously reviewed the performance of the Kharif Crops (2023-24) and laid out a detailed Production Plan for the upcoming Rabi Crops (2023-24). The discussions also delved into the critical issue of input availability for Rabi Crops, ensuring a holistic approach to agricultural planning and management.

Apart from the remarkable cotton forecasts, the committee revealed the provisional estimates for various other crops. Rice production for the 2023-24 season is expected to reach 8.64 million tons, cultivated across 3.35 million hectares, marking an increase of 12.7% in area and a remarkable 18% rise in production compared to the previous year.

Mung bean production is estimated at 143.6 thousand tons across 198 thousand hectares, showing a slight decrease in area but a commendable 6.4% increase in production. Mash production is anticipated to be 5.28 thousand tons across 7.36 thousand hectares, representing an increase of 12.95% in area and an impressive 24.65% growth in production. Furthermore, chili’s production is estimated at 1.36 thousand tons from 122.1 thousand hectares, indicating moderate increases in both area and production.

The committee, recognizing the importance of strategic targets, established production goals for various crops. Wheat, a staple crop, was set at a substantial target of 32.12 million tons, spanning 8.9 million hectares. Additionally, production targets for Gram, Potato, Onion, and Tomato were fixed at 410, 6330, 2494, and 666 thousand tons, respectively.

Addressing concerns regarding seed availability for Rabi Crops, the meeting participants were assured by DG, FSC&RD that certified seed availability for the Rabi season 2023-24 would remain satisfactory, underpinning the foundation for the anticipated bumper harvests.

However, challenges such as water scarcity were not overlooked. The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) Advisory Committee highlighted an anticipated 15% shortage of water for Punjab and Sindh during the Rabi season. Despite this, the prevailing weather conditions were deemed supportive, and effective management strategies were in place to handle the manageable shortage.

Riaz Haq said…
Agro, food exports jump 37pc

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has seen a significant increase of 37.4 per cent in the export of agro and food products in the first quarter of the current fiscal year from a year ago amid soaring domestic food inflation.

The surge in food products exports can be primarily attributed to the unprecedented rupee depreciation and the persistent disruptions in the supply chain and higher prices in the international market, which have led to a soaring demand for food products.

On Wednesday, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), a subsidiary organisation of the Ministry of Commerce, released the latest data on the surge in food product exports.

TDAP CEO Zubair Motiwalla expressed his optimism regarding the future of Pakistan’s agro and food product exports. He stated that if the current trends continue, the country’s exports in this sector are projected to surpass $7bn by the end of 2023-24.

According to the TDAP data, major increases were in the export of sesame seed (427pc), maize/corn (109pc), ethyl alcohol (559pc), meat (16pc), rice (14pc), fruits and vegetables (11.8pc), fish and fish products (3pc).

Pakistan exported sesame seed worth $182.2m during July-September 2023-24 as compared to $34m in the corresponding period last year, a growth of 435pc thanks to increased production.

Similarly, the exports of maize were $130m during 1QFY24 as compared to $60.62m in 1QFY23, a growth of 109.32pc. Pakistan’s maize exports have increased manifolds in value, as global prices of food commodities have increased due to the outbreak of Russian-Ukraine war. The major markets for maize are Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea and Oman.

Pakistan exported ethyl alcohol worth $126.81m in 1QFY24 as compared to $19.23m in 1QFY23, indicating a growth of 559.1pc.

Pakistan exported $112.36m worth of meat in 1QFY24 as compared to $96.4m in 1QFY23, showing a growth of 16.54pc. The reason for the increase in meat exports is the introduction of new markets — Jordan, Egypt, and Uzbekistan.

At the same time, several new enterprises are registering to export meat to the UAE, KSA, and the GGC region.

Malaysia also cleared three more slaughterhouses for export/processing. Furthermore, one meat exporting company was granted market access for heat-treated meat shipments to China.

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