AGRICULTURE NEWS

PAKISTAN APPROVES DEAL TO IMPORT 300,000 TONS OF RUSSIAN WHEAT

The government of Pakistan has approved a deal worth nearly $112m to import 300,000 tons of wheat from Russia to meet its domestic shortfall. The deal endorsed by the Economic Cooperation Committee comes as Pakistan struggles to balance its fragile economy and manage the aftermath of devastating floods this summer that killed more than 1,700 people and affected some 33 million. Under the deal, the wheat will be supplied by Prodintorg, a Russian state corporation. Pakistan last imported wheat from Russia in July 2020, in another government-to-government deal for a million tons of the commodity. The Trading Corporation of Pakistan, the government entity mandated for the import and export of commodities, said Prodintorg has not been hit by sanctions imposed by Western countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s largest suppliers of wheat. Pakistan had set a goal of producing 27 million tons of wheat domestically in 2022. But due to a number of reasons, including water scarcity and the redevelopment of agricultural land, scientists were already predicting its harvests would be slashed by 15 percent. The severe flooding of that year wreaked havoc in southern parts of the country and destroyed large areas of farmland in Sindh and Balochistan provinces. A United States government report on agriculture forecasted that Pakistan’s wheat production would drop by eight million tons because of the flooding. Pakistan’s economic situation remains fragile, despite receiving billions of dollars in funding from global financial institutions in recent months. A World Bank report in October said inflation in Pakistan was expected to hit about 23 percent in the next fiscal year due to flood-related disruptions and “difficult external conditions, including tighter global monetary conditions”.