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January 23, 2020

Sindh demands immediate ban on wheat, sugar export

Business

January 23, 2020

KARACHI: Sindh has demanded of the federal government to block wheat and sugar exports in view of the prevailing shortages that have led to a spike in the prices of these commodities and their products, a statement said on Wednesday.

“The federal government itself has accepted there is shortage of wheat, thus its export should be prohibited, while sugar should also not be allowed to go overseas,” said Ismail Rahoo, Sindh Minister for Agriculture, in a statement.

Rahoo said the main reason behind the current sugar shortage and rising prices was the export of one million tons of the commodity.

Sugar prices have jumped to Rs80/kilogramme at retail shops in Karachi. Industry officials said the wholesale rate of sugar is expected to reach Rs80/kilo next week. “If the export is not banned, sugar and wheat crisis will resurface next year as well,” Rahoo warned.

Rising food prices, particularly of sugar and wheat flour, present one of the toughest challenges for the government. On Monday, January 20, the government allowed duty-free import of 300,000 tons of wheat to arrest a runaway price.

The provincial minister said in the last couple of days 33,000 bags of 100-kg wheat were supplied to mills in Karachi, while various ‘bachat bazaars’ were supplied 28,650 bags of 10-kg flour, of which 22,000 bags were purchased by the citizens.

He further said, “Wheat has been sown over an area of 1.11 million hectares in 2019-20, compared to 1.05 million hectares last year, while wheat production target is set at 3.8 million tons this year”.

The country’s wheat flour crisis has worsened in a last few weeks, affecting major cities such as Karachi, Hyderabad, and Lahore and with prices shooting up to Rs70/kilogramme in some areas.

According to traders, sugar prices have been rising sharply in recent weeks as hundreds of tons of the sweetener are being smuggled out of the country through the porous borders into Afghanistan.

They said hoarders and other speculators were also pushing up sugar prices and hurting consumers. Sugar production is likely be fall 1.5 million tons this year, whereas expected consumption is seen anywhere between 5 and 5.5 million tons in the country.