A total of 376 wheat procurement centres will be set up to facilitate farmers during the wheat procurement campaign this year, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday.
He was presiding over a meeting on Wheat Procurement Campaign 2016-17. An official present at the meeting told The Express Tribune that the government was considering a proposal to allow private companies to procure wheat as a bumper crop was expected this year.
“During previous years, only the government procured wheat. However, this year a proposal is under consideration that private companies be allowed to procure it on government rates,” the official said.
“The distribution of gunny-bags will start from April 15 and the procurement will start in the last week of April. There will be no ban on the transportation of wheat from one district to another or to other provinces,” the official said. Addressing the meeting, the CM said that interests of cultivators would be protected.
“Protection of farmers’ interests will be ensured at all costs. Arrangements should be made to facilitate the cultivators at procurement centres. The process of distribution of gunny bags among famers will be transparent. The bags will be issued on first-come, first-served basis,” the CM said.
Shahbaz Sharif said that necessary steps would be taken for stability of wheat prices. “The government will ensure that cultivators are not affected by low wheat prices and recession in the international market,” he said.
The chief minister said that ‘the middleman’ would not be allowed to exploit cultivators in the procurement of wheat. “Arhtis will not be able to participate in the wheat procurement process,” he said.
He said that complaint cells would be set up at provincial, divisional, district and tehsil levels. “Any complaint about the wheat procurement process will be immediately addressed,” he said.
Shahbaz Sharif said that an effective monitoring system had been introduced with the help of information technology in the wheat procurement process.
“Wheat will be procured from small cultivators on a priority basis. I will personally supervise the procurement process,” he said. The CM said that agriculture was the backbone of national economy and a comprehensive strategy would be implemented for development of the sector. He said that the government had come up with a historic package worth Rs100 billion for developing the agriculture sector during the next two years.
The minister for food briefed the meeting about arrangements for wheat procurement. Federal Minister for National Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan, Provincial Ministers Rana Sanaullah, Bilal Yasin, Atta Maneka, Nadeem Kamran, Farrukh Javed, Iqbal Channar, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Chaudhry Muhammad Shafique and the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) managing director were present.
Senator meets CM
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sindh Senior Vice president Senator Saleem Zia met the chief minister on Tuesday.
Zia condemned the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park attack and expressed sorrow over the loss of human lives. The chief minister said that the blast was the worst terrorism attack in the history of the Punjab. “Blood of innocent people has given a new determination to the people to fight terrorism. The nation has united once again for elimination of terrorists and their facilitators,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2016.