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October 21, 2020

Sindh, Balochistan lag behind others in wheat release


October 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Sindh and Balochistan have yet to start release of wheat from their stocks to flour mills across the provinces, although two other provincial governments began the disbursal two to three months ago, officials said on Tuesday.

Officials told a meeting that Punjab government started its wheat release from 7th of July, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa followed by starting the disbursal on 7th of August.

The online meeting was attended by Foods Security Minister Fakhar Imam and chief secretaries of all the provinces. All of them committed to accelerate wheat release to control inflation.

A representative from the Punjab government told the meeting that the province would increase wheat supply to 25,000 tons per day from 20,000 tons per day within next one or two days. The province already increased supply from 16,000 tons per day.

“So far 196 sahulat bazaars have been set up to ensure the supply of flour to the people at affordable rates,” he said.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa spokesperson said the official release of wheat will be increased to 4,000 tons per day from 3,000 tons per day. The meeting was told about the administrative measures taken by the province to control the availability of wheat, including the establishment of sasta bazaars.

Sindh’s official said the process of regular release of wheat will start in the next one or two days.

Wheat price reached an all-time high of Rs2,400 per 40 kilogram earlier this month as supply was not enough to meet demand.

All Pakistan Flour Association ascribed this shortage partly to delay in announcement of new wheat support price amid harvesting soon to start in the Punjab and already in progress in Sindh. Wheat support price was proposed to be revised up by Rs400 from Rs1,400 per 40 kilogram to encourage production of the staple.

Pakistan that exported wheat last year is grappling with a challenge to meet wheat shortfall of two million tons this year.

Private sector has already imported 430,000 tons of wheat and another 1.1 million ton is expected to be imported by the end of December. Besides, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan has opened a letter of credit to import 330,000 tons of wheat and is in the process of tendering another about 1.2 million tons.

Around five million tons of wheat is available with the public sector in stocks.

There is a fear that the increased import might flood the domestic market and then it might be smuggled.

An official told The News that such a situation is possible if the imported wheat will cross the 1.5 million tons mark.