The distribution of gunny bags for procurement of wheat started in most districts on Friday. Procurement in Bahawalpur and Gujranwala will begin on Saturday (today) and in Faisalabad on May 10.
Some farmers complained about discrimination in distribution of gunny bags. They said they had already sold part of their harvest at a lower price in the market because of the delay in distribution of gunny bags. Some farmers in Bahawalpur said wheat harvest laying the fields was preventing them from sowing cotton.
Muhammad Ali, a Bahawalpur resident, said he had waited for his turn at Dera Bakha Centre for the entire day (on Friday) but was told in the evening to return tomorrow. “I sold 30 maunds wheat in the Ghalla Mandi at Rs950 per 40 kg rate,” he said (The official purchase price is set at Rs1050 per 40 kg).
Muhammad Yaseen, another Bahawalpur farmer, said he had sold 20 maunds at market rate because of the delay in the start of procurement campaign. He was also turned away by the administration at Dera Bakha.
As many as 8434 bags were distributed at the Dera Bakha centre. Distribution at Asrani centre will start on Saturday (today). Assistant Commissioner (Saddar) Tanvir Jhandeer said 20,734 bags would be distributed at Dera Bakha centre and 28,376 at Asrani centre. He said there were 70 distribution centres in the division. Food Department Deputy Director (Bahawalpur) Rao Tuaheed rejected the discrimination charge. He said gunny bags could not be provided to all farmers of the district in a day. He said there could be some delay but every farmer who had a token issued by the Food Department would get gunny bags.
Bahawalpur divisional commissioner Muhammad Khan Khitchi and DCO Dr Naeem Rauf visited the two centres and reviewed arrangements.
Commissioner Muhammad Khan Khitchi said the government would purchase wheat from everyone who had been given a token by the Food Department. He requested the farmers to remain patient.
In Faisalabad, there are 11 centres for distribution of gunny bags.
District Food Controller Muhammad Taufeeq on Friday monitored the start of distribution at several centres. He appealed to the farmers to bring their complaints about the procurement campaign directly to him. He said the government was taking caution against undue delays in procurement to prevent farmers from any inconvenience.
Gujranwala District Food Controller Rohail Butt said farmers would get 16 bags per acre of land on showing the tokens issued to them. He said tokens were issued to ensure transparency. There are nine centres for in the distribution of bags and procurement of wheat in Gujranwala district.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.