ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — An increase in planted area and government support for an increase in minimum support price is expected to push Pakistan’s wheat production to a new record, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Wheat production is expected to be 27 million tonnes in the 2021-22 marketing year, an 8% increase over the 25 million tonnes produced in the previous year.

The Pakistani government has approved the import of up to three million tonnes duty free wheat during the 2021-22 marketing year in an effort to increase domestic reserves. The country decided to prioritize maintaining a large wheat reserve following the COVID-19 induced demand and threat of locust attacks in 2020, the USDA noted.

Pakistan’s rice production forecast for the 2021-22 marketing year remains unchanged at 8.3 million tonnes as the Pakistan Metrological Department expects normal monsoon rainfall in 2021. The threat of locust attacks on the crop also are waning as there have been no reports of locust attacks in Pakistan in 2021.

So far in the 2020-21 marketing year Pakistan has exported about 2.2 million tonnes of rice of the USDA’s 4.3 million tonne estimate. A majority of the commodity export is non-basmati rice despite the government’s efforts to increase basmati rice exports as it is challenged with competition from India.

However, Russia is permitting the importation of Pakistani rice after it was banned when a Khapra beetle was detected in a shipment in May 2019. According to the USDA, Pakistan used to export around 35,000 tonnes of rice to Russia per year.