ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is likely to increase wheat support price to encourage farmers to grow crop on more area to ensure food security in the country.
The proposal was floated by Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan in a recent meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet held on September 10.
During the meeting, he pointed out that there was short storage capacity of warehouses and stores in the country to store wheat. He argued that due to this substantial quantity of wheat had been spoiled in Rawalpindi. Khan urged on increasing the storage capacity of warehouses to prevent such a situation.
The petroleum minister endorsed the views expressed by the minister for railways that wheat was not being purchased at support price and ultimately the poor farmers were suffering. He also stressed upon the need for reviewing the wheat support price.
The economic decision-making body agreed to the proposal and directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to submit a summary regarding wheat support price to the ECC after consultation with all stakeholders.
The ECC held a discussion on actual production and consumption of urea during 2017-18, its requirement and availability for Rabi crop 2018. Ensuring availability of required urea mainly through increasing domestic production was stressed, which will not only provide cheaper urea to the farmers but also had the advantage of saving foreign exchange and generating tax revenue.
It was also observed that urea requirement would be higher as compared to its domestic production for Rabi crop. However, despite operationalising the closed urea plants, there would still be a need to import the commodity immediately to meet its shortage in the country.
The meeting was also informed about the refusal of Pakarab Fertilizers to run the plant for production of urea only. The ECC decided that two fertiliser plants; Fatima Fertilizer and Agritech may be made operational for 60 days starting from actual operation on the blend of 62% system gas and 38% RLNG for domestic production of urea.
Thereafter, both plants may be operated on RLNG for the next two months and for this period with 50% subsidy of RLNG price being paid by the government of Pakistan and the remaining 50% by the producers themselves.
Meanwhile, it was also suggested to allow import of 100,000 tons urea through Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) immediately to meet the requirement of Rabi crop. After detailed discussion, the economic decision-making body approved these proposals to overcome shortage of urea in the country.
The Commerce Division was directed to work out the requirement of funds for this purpose and take up the matter with the Finance Division. Ministry of Industries and Production was also directed to work out modalities for disbursement of subsidy on account of provision of gas with the Petroleum Division.
The Ministry of Industries and Production would also work out modalities for distribution of imported urea in consultation with provincial governments.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2018.