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GIEWS Country Brief: Pakistan 09-January-2019

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  • Uncertain prospects for 2019 wheat output due to low availability of irrigation water

  • Cereal production in 2018 estimated at near-average level

  • Cereal exports in 2018/19 forecast close to last year’s above-average level

  • Prices of wheat and wheat flour increased in recent months reflecting seasonal patterns and strong exports

  • Food insecurity persists in some localized areas

Uncertain prospects for 2019 wheat crop due to low availability of irrigation water

Planting of the 2019 “Rabi” (mostly irrigated) wheat crop was completed in December 2018. Below average rains in October and November 2018, coupled with low irrigation water availabilities for the predominantly irrigated wheat crop, have hampered planting operations. Official information from early December 2018, indicated that 8 million hectares were planted with wheat, 9 percent below last year’s near-average level. As of 7 December 2018, the Pakistan Meteorological Department released a “Drought Alert” indicating that parts of Sindh and Balochistan provinces are experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions due to persistent below-average rainfall.
According to Indus River System Authority (IRSA), as of October 2018, irrigation water supplies for the “Rabi” crops are estimated to be 40 percent below the previous ten-year average.
As of the second dekad of December 2018, southern parts of Punjab and Sindh provinces, and eastern parts of Balochistan Province, exhibited below normal vegetation conditions (see Vegetation Health Index map) and the reduced water availability for irrigation raises concerns for yield prospects.