Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New policy unveiled: Sunflower, canola procurement price fixed

Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Mohammad Gondal on Monday announced Rs1,800 per 40 kg procurement price for canola and sunflower and set a target of one million acres of land to be utilised for sowing the two crops in the flood-affected areas.
Unveiling the new policy on canola and sunflower at a press conference the minister said the policy was aimed at providing financial benefit of Rs3 billion to the growers.

The government will procure canola against cash payment in order to give maximum benefit to farmers, he announced.

The government is seriously considering measures to provide relief to the farming community, which has lost its only source of bread and butter. “The canola policy is the beginning and with the start of Rabi season, the government will come up with policies on other crops,” Mr Gondal told newsmen.

The minister said that the government would help and assist the flood-affected farmers to enable them revive the agriculture sector. He said that a package of incentives would be announced before the sowing of each crop in the flood-hit areas.

He said fields would be ready in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within next fortnight for sowing of canola and sunflower. The seed companies would provide hybrid seeds to farmers on no-loss-no-profit basis through the Zarai Taraqqiati Bank (ZTBL) on deferred payment basis.

Mr Gondal disclosed that the government would provide free of cost seeds to those farmers who would grow canola on at least 50 acres.

On a query, officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture told Dawn that the government had with it 50 tons of hybrid seeds and over 100 tons of non-hybrid seeds which would be given to farmers.

Mr Gondal dispelled the speculations that the country might face a severe wheat shortage as the floods damaged the stocks of the commodity. He said that enough strategic reserve was laying in the public sector to meet the local needs. He however said that the exact status would be clear once the floods were totally over and the needs for the next crop seed were calculated.

Mr Gondal stated that the government has in its stock enough wheat and there was no possibility of food insecurity in any province. To ensure food security, the possible export of two million tons of wheat had been deferred till next bumper season.

Reuters adds: Pakistan, Asia’s third-largest wheat producer, said in April it would export 2 million tons of wheat after a bumper crop of 23.86 million tons in 2009/10, and a carryover of 4.2 million tons from the previous crop.

But it held back exports because of low prices in the international market until a recent rally.

“When the next crop is sown then we will have an idea of how big the surplus is and then we will make a decision,” Mr Gondal told the news conference.

Wheat is sown in Pakistan from late October to December.

“We need to see on how much area we can plant wheat,” the minister said.Two food ministry officials had said last week the export plan would likely be shelved over flood worries.

Pakistan has lost at least 725,000 tons of wheat in the country’s worst flooding in 80 years, and experts say water and more rains could complicate planting of the next crop.

The government has 10 million tons of wheat stocks, besides those held by the private sector, Gondal said.

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