KARACHI: Agriculture sector depicts dismal performance as far as Kharif crops are concerned due to less water availability during the first quarter of FY19, according to the report on state of the economy, issued by the central bank.
Main crops of the season, cotton and rice, remained less productive on the back of shrinking area under cultivation.
Preliminary estimates for the major Kharif crops, including cotton, rice, sugarcane and maize, show subdued performance, mainly because of considerable decline in the area under cultivation, especially in Sindh.
The report also showed that due to persistent water shortages, the situation would become more dangerous in the years to come. Thus, the central bank suggested construction of small reservoirs and adaptation of water conservation measures, including imposition of higher prices of irrigation water for more consuming crops, especially, sugarcane.
The total area sown under Kharif crops for FY19 stood at 7.54 million hectares, a decline of 7.7 percent over FY18. Thus, the contribution of Kharif crops in the gross value addition (GVA) of the agriculture sector might fall below the FY18 level.
Going forward, Rabi season is expected to receive 35 to 40 percent lower canal water flows, compared with the actual allotment of 37MAF. The erratic nature of river inflows and monsoon rainfall requires proper management at the provincial level for meeting the crop water requirements.
The bank proposed farmers’ participation in the management of canal infrastructure would increase the accountability. “Farmer organisations and area water boards have been the successful models, as farmers take ownership of the system, resulting in reduced wastages,” it said.
The latest estimates for cotton crop reveal a worrisome picture, as the total production in FY19 is estimated at 10.8 million bales, a fall of 9.2 percent over the last year’s production level, and trailing 24.3 percent behind the targeted level of 14.4 million bales for the year.
Given the average mills’ annual consumption of around 14 million bales in the country, the production is expected to remain short by around 23 percent for the ginners as per their installed capacity for value addition, the report said.
As per the estimates, sugarcane production is likely to remain at 68.3 million tons, matching the set target of 68.2 million tons for the year, but falling 16.9 percent short of the production level achieved last year.
Likewise, initial estimates indicate that rice production stood at 7.1 million tons during Kharif season of FY19, higher than the target of 6.9 million tons, but 4.4 percent lower than the record crop witnessed during FY18.
In Punjab, basmati performance is laudable, as the estimated crop exceeded the four million tons mark, while the production in Sindh suffered a contraction of 15.2 percent on a year-on-year basis, largely due to a contraction in the area under cultivation.
Irri and hybrid varieties in Sindh suffered due to exceptional water shortages (a decline of 43 percent during the period under review) and the poor quality of groundwater, resulting in a total area contraction of 17.1 percent, compared with FY18, it added.