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May 28, 2020

Food officials taking wheat by force in Sindh

Business

May 28, 2020

KARACHI: Wheat growers are facing another blow, as the food department with police is taking away wheat stored in personal warehouses for sharecroppers and farmers for domestic use, including for next year’s seed.

The farmers have stocked wheat as per their capacity, ranging from 500 maunds to 12,000 bags, which were taken away in many areas by the food department officials with support of police personnel in the name of illegal stocking.

Meanwhile, growers remain dissatisfied with the government’s wheat procurement drive.

Sindh Abadgar Board Senior Vice President Mehmood Nawaz Shah told The News that government officials were forcefully seizing wheat that growers had stored for seed and personal use, as well as for famers’ share.

Government had failed to procure targeted wheat from growers by delaying the drive and discouraging growers. They had started late buying amid lockdown, which affected their purchase.

When wheat season ended at the end of growers, the provincial food department had hardly procured 45 percent of its target of 1.4 million tons.

Shah said the food officials also illegally seized wheat warehouse of Engro Fertilizers, which operated legally.

He said growers were facing multiple hurdles. On the one hand their wheat was being snatched forcedly. On the other hand, locust swarms were damaging the crops.

“Officials are threatening of lodging FIRs against growers. Currently, wheat has been snatched from growers in Sekhat, Sanghar and Hala areas. We are planning for protest, but could not conduct press conference amid lockdown,” Shah added.

Wheat procurement drive was carried out aggressively by the food officials at the end of Ramazan. Earlier, growers had demanded government to purchase wheat from them, but officials waited and procured from the middlemen. Growers had sold their wheat at lower rates of Rs1,250/40 kg against support price of Rs1,400/40kg.

Wheat was sowed over an area of 1.11 million acres in Sindh, and 3.8 million tons yield was likely achieved. Sindh government is purchasing 1.4 million or 37 percent of the total production. Sindh government opened 525 procurement centres in 23 districts to procure wheat.

Sindh Growers Alliance President Nawab Zubair Talpur accused the government of ill treatment to hide their failure to procure wheat this year.

He gave names of farmers, members of SGA, who have been deprived of their wheat stock.

Wahid Bodani, grower of Shahdadpur was deprived of 200 maunds by food department forcefully.

Food officials with the support of police personnel snatched 700 maunds of seed and personal used wheat from Qaimuddin Laghari from Khipro. Similarly, food officials deprived Sajid Rajput, a grower of Sirhari Nawabshah of his stocks.