FAISALABAD: As wheat harvest is gaining pace, small growers complain that the Punjab Food Department has deprived them of government issue sacks, causing financial losses to them.
These growers have no option but to sell their produce to dealers at low prices in the absence of capacity to hold their stocks. “We are not getting the support price set by the government,” a farmer said.
The farmers blamed officials of the food department, big landlords and market dealers for exploiting and taking advantage of the situation.
They said the food department was involved in irregular distribution of sacks. Wheat purchased from small farmers at lower prices was being sold to the food department’s procurement centre at a big margin, they added.
The dealers and middlemen are buying wheat from small farmers at Rs920 to Rs940 per 40 kg compared to the official procurement price of Rs1,050.
“The government should issue a list of those who have received wheat bags. If the government really wants to help the small growers, it should directly purchase wheat from them at the official price,” suggested Arshad Mahmood, a farmer.
He believed that only 50% of real farmers were getting sacks. Consequently, the small growers were suffering a loss of Rs110 to Rs130 per 40 kg.
Another farmer argued that a lengthy process discouraged farmers from lodging complaints with the food department.
Punjab Food Department’s Deputy Food Controller Taufeeq Ahmad told The Express Tribune that a specific quota had been set for distributing sacks among farmers, which was being followed. “Until we receive written complaints from the farmers, the department cannot take action,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2012.