Water shortage to hit crop targets, high interest rate on wheat loans questioned

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Islamabad(Daily P.Times): Severe water shortage in Pakistan is set to hit targets of major crops threatening livelihoods of farming communities and highlighting the issue of food security, a business leader said Sunday.
Former senior vice president of ICCI, Malik Sohail Hussain said this in a statement on Sunday .
He said that the government has set a target for sugarcane at 68.157million tonnes, rice at 6.931million tonnes, maize at 5.3million tonnes, and cotton production at 14.37 million bales which is difficult to achieve as crops are threatened by the shortage of water, he said.
The target of mung, mash, chilies, and tomato is also difficult to achieve, said ,
He said that years of neglect has resulted in the shortage of water for all the sectors of the economy while agriculture is the worst-hit sector as it is facing shortages up to fifty percent at some places.
He said that climate change, less winter snow cover, low rainfall and wastage of water has added to the severity of the situation.
The substandard seed, low-quality pesticides, costly urea, increasing price of fuel and difficulty faced by farmers in acquiring credit will also contribute to the low yield of major crops, he added.
The reduced cotton crop will not only hit textile exports but also waste foreign exchange as a result of cotton imports, he observed.
He said that wheat production this year is expected to be 25 million tonnes which will add to the problems and expenses of the government due to leftover stocks.
The Punjab Food Department is paying 6.6 percent interest plus kibor on bank loans to buy wheat from farmers which should be probed as loans can be acquired on lower rates which will save a substantial amount, he demanded.

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