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Sunday May 19, 2024

Skyrocketing prices making flour inaccessible

Skyrocketing wheat flour prices have kept the food staple inaccessible for many as varied rates of grain and its byproducts in provinces continue to encourage its black-marketing

By Munawar Hasan & News Desk
January 10, 2023
Flour sacks are being distributed in Sindh. Twitter
Flour sacks are being distributed in Sindh. Twitter

LAHORE/KARACHI: Skyrocketing wheat flour prices have kept the food staple inaccessible for many as varied rates of grain and its byproducts in provinces continue to encourage its black-marketing.

The highly subsidised 10 and 20kg flour bags in Punjab province are still short in supply despite issuance of wheat to mills in sizeable quantity. The price of 15kg bag went through the roof as it is available at around Rs133 per kg or over Rs2000 per bag. The whole wheat flour on the other hand soared to Rs150 per kg in the province.

In Sindh, especially in the urban areas, and in the entire Balochistan, per kg flour price has been as high as Rs150. Similar is with the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where 20kg flour bag is in short supply even at record price of Rs3,000 per bag. Wheat flour prices are even higher in Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK.

The rates of tandoori roti and naan also hiked to almost double the price of what was prevalent a year back. It seems that there is no check on black-marketing of wheat and flour in the country, especially in the Punjab province from where complaints about pilferage of subsidised wheat have been rampant. There are serious issues of flour quality deterioration. People complained that smelly wheat flour is being supplied by the flour mills and there is no quality check of the officials concerned.

Meanwhile, market insiders are of the view that price of wheat may touch the peak for the time being following increase of wheat release quota in Punjab province, the biggest producer and consumer of grains in the country.

On Monday, price of wheat in open market already saw less buyers even at discounted rates of Rs4800 to 4900 per 40kg against yesterday’s rates f over Rs5,000. They added that price of wheat could be stablised if issuance of available wheat to flour mills is effectively regulated by the department concerned.

Meanwhile, two ships carrying more than 300,000 tons of Russian wheat arrived in Karachi on Monday, providing much-needed relief to Pakistan which is experiencing a flour crisis and soaring prices for the essential commodity.

The Ministry of National Food Security & Research announced that Pakistan will import a total of 700,000 tons of wheat from Russia, with the remaining 400,000 tons expected to arrive at the Gwadar Port by the end of March.

In addition, ships from other countries carrying wheat have also been anchored at the Karachi Port as the total volume of wheat imported is around 350,000 tonnes. Pakistan’s flour crisis has escalated as a result of worsening macroeconomic situation, depleting foreign exchange reserves and destruction of wheat crops in the floods.

People are struggling to get a single bag of the daily-use commodity and stampedes have also been reported at sale points in rural parts of the country as the people endeavour to get subsidised flour bags.

The price of flour has soared to Rs130 per kg, fine flour was available for Rs150 per kg and Chakki flour was selling at a price of Rs160 per kg.