ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday set cotton production target at 10.5 million bales from an area of 2.33 million hectares, almost double over the previous year, and fixed 8.2 million tons production target for rice over 3.07 million hectares of land for summer crops 2021/22. While also reviewing performance of the rabi crops 2020/21, the federal committee on agriculture (FCA) said wheat production would increase 1.7 percent to 26.04 million tons from an area of 9.191 million hectares for this year winter crops. Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam presided over the meeting. The FCA was informed that the potato production for 2020/21 has been estimated at 5.7 million tons from an area of 226,000 hectares, an increase in production of 829.7 percent over the last year. The committee also discussed the production achievements of other essential crops like gram, lentil, onion and tomato. The targets for other crops such as maize, mung, mash and chilies were also fixed. The committee fixed the production target (2021/22) of sugar cane as 74.84 million tons over an area of 1.18 million hectares. Pondering over the availability of agricultural inputs for kharif crops (2021/22) the committee was informed that expected shortfall would be 16 percent. For the year 2021/22, the water availability in canals head will remain 67.6 million acres feet anticipated for kharif 2021 (April-Sept) as against last year, which was 65.2 million acres feet. At present all the provinces are getting their satisfactory supplies in the system. Meteorological department informed the committee that keeping in view the climate projections would remain normal to slightly above normal rainfalls all over the country. The gradual rise in temperature will accelerate snowmelt in the Northern areas and subsequent increase in runoff of in upper Indus region. Low rains may cause water stress for the standing crops especially in the rain-fed belt. There are chances of isolated lightening/thunder along with gusty winds/hails/showers over the plains and sub-mountainous areas. Fewer rains and seasonal rise in air temperatures may intensify the ongoing drought conditions over south-western Balochistan and Tharparker region of Sindh. The committee asked for judicious use of available water stock. The committee was informed that the availability of rice and maize seed would remain as per requirement. Despite prevailing Covid-19 situation, the agricultural credit disbursement made by lending institutions is gradually picking up the pace. In July-February 2020/21, the agriculture lending institutions have disbursed Rs806.4 billion, which was 53.8 percent of the overall annual target and 2.9 percent higher than the disbursement of Rs783.8 billion made during the same period last year. Further, the outstanding portfolio of agriculture loans has increased by Rs30.2 billion from Rs565.6 billion to Rs595.8 billion by the end February 2021 as compared to same period last year. In terms of outreach 3.5 million borrowers have been benefitted as of end February. Currently, 50 agriculture lending institutions including five major commercial banks, two specialised banks, five Islamic banks, 11 microfinance banks and 13 microfinance institutions / rural support programs are providing agriculture loans to farming community. The FCA appreciated the positive impact of fertilizer subsidy scheme which contributed to high yield and noted that the supply of urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilisers was satisfactory during rabi season 2020/21. Due to local production and available stocks, the supply position of urea will remain comfortable during kharif. Availability of DAP will also remain satisfactory because of smooth inputs. However, the prices of DAP are Rs5,400 per 50kg bag as compared to previous season due to increasing trend in international market as many manufacturing plants were shut by impact of Covid-19. The committee expressed satisfaction over the food security situation in the country and emphasised the need for concerted research and development on food crops and better coordination to consolidate the gains which will ensure further progress of the sector.