ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Pakistan’s growing population is seeing an increased demand for wheat. However, the production of the commodity is not rising at a proportional rate, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Pakistan’s 2020-21 marketing year wheat production is expected to decrease to 25.2 million tonnes due to the impact of untimely rain at harvesting.

Over the past few years, Pakistan’s wheat production has not increased at a rate to suffice local demand shifting the country from a wheat exporter to a wheat importer. The change is due to climate change, lack of high-yielding research and minimal increase in support prices, the USDA said. In attempt to circumvent the issue, the Pakistani government announced policy initiatives in October 2020 to support the increased production of wheat. One includes raising the minimum support price for the 2021 wheat crop by 23%. The government also plans to support wheat producers in the form of subsidies for fertilizers and a renewed focus on research.

The USDA noted that Pakistan is encouraging wheat imports to build reserves. The government has eliminated the import duty on wheat. Pakistan has imported about 1.3 million tonnes of wheat in the 2021-22 marketing year.