Monday June 17, 2024

High-quality wheat procured transparently, says minister

By Bureau report
June 07, 2024
In this image, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Minister Zahir Shah Toru gestures during a meeting. — APP/File
In this image, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Minister Zahir Shah Toru gestures during a meeting. — APP/File 

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Food Zahir Shah Toru on Thursday said the uncompromising approach of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Department to ensure procurement of the best quality of the required quantity of wheat in the recent drive annoyed the “corrupt elements,” who were left with nothing but to launch propaganda against the campaign.

He said this while chairing a meeting on the completion of the wheat procurement campaign here.The meeting was attended by Secretary Food Zariful Maani, other officials of the Food Department and Advisor to Chief Minister for Information Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif.

“The provincial government procured high-quality wheat without making any compromise on quality as well as quantity. This uncompromising approach agitated the corrupt elements,” Toru said.

Secretary Food Zariful Maani talked about the details of the procurement drive. He said that for the first time in the history of the department, certain online applications had been introduced to ensure transparency and efficiency in wheat procurement.

Local farmers and those from other provinces, particularly Punjab, made registration of their produce through an easy online app, and wheat was procured on a first-come, first-served basis. However, no compromise was made on quality, he added.

The meeting was informed that while the online app recorded a procurement entry of 1.8 million metric tons of wheat, the province’s target was 300,000 metric tons. Zariful Maani informed that 22 procurement centres had been established across the province where the procurement process was properly monitored through Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras.

He added that a five-member committee had also been formed to assess the quality of wheat at each procurement center.This committee included representatives from the district and assistant food controllers, district administration, agriculture, revenue department, Flour Mills Association, as well as officials from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Anti-Corruption Department as observers, he maintained.

Zariful Maani said nine officers were suspended during the drive for violating rules and regulations, and inquiries were initiated against them. The final report will be submitted to the relevant authorities soon, he added.

Toru commended the successful procurement and stated that the campaign enhanced food security and economic activities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He directed the relevant officials to develop a procurement strategy based on this year’s campaign to ensure a comprehensive plan for future wheat procurement.

Barrister Saif appreciated the efforts of Toru and the Food Department for completing the wheat procurement process fairly and transparently. He noted that due to wheat procurement, prices of wheat and flour have dropped, benefiting the underprivileged.He criticized the Punjab government, stating that while the Punjab government oppressed farmers, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government provided them economic support.

Barrister Saif accused the federal and Punjab governments of orchestrating a propaganda campaign against the wheat procurement drive and urged anyone with evidence of corruption to bring it forward, promising impartial action against those involved.