Like last year, this year again billions of rupees worth of wheat, to be purchased by the Punjab Food Department, will be kept in open spaces as the provincial government has not yet built suitable commodity storages.
This year, Punjab will purchase four million tons of wheat from the farmers, costing an estimated Rs110 billion. But the storage capacity needs to be upgraded to protect the grain as the food department is forced to take open spaces on rent from private contractors.
“Wheat buyers bear losses as quality of openly stored wheat is not as good as that protected in covered areas,” said a flour miller while talking to The Express Tribune. With proper storage, grain life could be enhanced, he added.
Total commodity storage capacity of Punjab is not more than 2.1 million tons. Besides planned procurement of four million tons, the government has stock of 1.8 million tons from the previous crop. “Excess grain will be stored in open spaces,” said Food Secretary Irfan Elahi.
He said the provincial government, in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation, had started a project for constructing silos. “Feasibility studies will be conducted and the project will take at least one year,” he added.
Elahi said nine bids had been received for constructing silos through a public-private partnership programme. In Dera Ghazi Khan, silos having capacity of 30,000 tons and in Multan silos with a capacity of 42,000 tons have been planned.
In Faisalabad, the food department was renting private storages because it did not have the capacity to store the grain, said Taufeeq Ahmad, Deputy District Officer of Food Department.
The region has 70,000 tons of leftover stock and plans to procure 400,000 tons this season. Half of the quantity will have to be kept in open spaces provided by private parties.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012.