Facts about Pakistan’s key crops after floods


Massive floods in Pakistan that killed up to 1,600 people also destroyed crops over an estimated area of more than 1.6 million acres (647,497 hectares), farmers and industry officials say.

The government says exact damage to crops is yet to be assessed. More damage is expected as the floods head southward.

Following are some facts about the main crops.

WHEAT STOCKS AND PROSPECTS FOR EXPORT

Wheat stocks soared this year after a bumper crop of 23.86 million tonnes in 2009/10, and a carryover of 4.2 million tonnes from the previous crop when Pakistan harvested 24 million tonnes.

In April, the government said after setting aside 1 million tonnes for strategic reserves, it still had a 2 million tonnes surplus which would be exported. But it had held back because of low prices in the international market before a recent rally.

The floods have damaged up to 600,000 tonnes of wheat stocks, according to initial estimates. Traders say the country, Asia’s third-largest wheat producer, still has ample stocks for export.

Food ministry officials said this month wheat export was still under consideration, but the government was unlikely to make a decision until it had a complete assessment about the losses and prospects of the next crop.

Pakistan banned wheat exports in 2007 because of shortages and high prices in the domestic market.

COTTON IMPORTS TO GO UP

Pakistan in April hoped to produce 14 million bales of cotton in the 2010/11 season, compared with about 12.7 million bales the previous financial year (July-June), when the country had to import about 2 million bales. This target is unachievable now.

The floods have damaged up to 2 million bales over an area of 700,000 acres (283,279 hectares), and traders say Pakistan will have to import up to 3 million bales to make up for the shortfall. A Pakistani cotton bale weighs 170 kg.

Traders said buying will be mainly from the United States and India. Despite being the world’s fourth biggest cotton producer, Pakistan annually imports between 1.5 million and 2 million bales to feed its textile industry.

SUGAR DAMAGE BEING ASSESSED, IMPORTS LIKELY

Pakistan has made a series of purchases in the international market this year following estimates its 2009/10 crop has produced little more than 3 million tonnes of white sugar against an annual demand of 4.2 million tonnes.

Pakistan this month bought a total of 525,000 tonnes of sugar in two separate contracts. The next crop, due in November, was expected to produce about 3.8 million tonnes of white sugar before the floods struck.

A farmer association official said last week the output of refined sugar would fall by 500,000 tonnes. A Food Ministry official said the extent of damage to the crop was still being assessed and it was centred in a relatively small area of about 100,000 acres (40,468 hectare) — meaning less damage than the above estimate.

Millers say Pakistan will need to import only if production falls below 3.6 million tonnes.

SMALLER SURPLUS FOR RICE EXPORTS

The floods have affected the rice crop over an estimated area of about 200,000 acres (80,937 hectare), which means an expected loss of about 200,000 tonnes of milled rice.

A rice industry trader said the loss could be up to 15 percent of the total output target of 6 million tonnes the government had set for this year.

Less output means Pakistan will have a smaller surplus for exports. Pakistan had a bumper crop of 6.7 million tonnes of milled rice in 2009/10 and exported about 4.5 million tonnes, traders say.

But a US Department of Agriculture attache in Pakistan said in a report last week that the country exported 3.75 million tonnes of rice in 2009/10. Attache reports are not official USDA data. Harvest of non-basmati rice begins in late September and the basmati harvest a month later.

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