Wheat stocks of Rs4b damaged in floods

NA panel suggests Rs3,000 wheat support price


Haseeb Hanif September 01, 2022
An elderly Afghan man harvests wheat on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan July 13, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Officials of various government departments painted a dismal picture of the wheat stocks situation in the wake of recent devastating floods up and down the country, but remained optimistic that there would be no shortage of fertilisers when cultivation of the next crop begins.

The wheat situation and its cultivation later this year, came under discussion in two separate meetings of the National Assembly standing committees on national food security and commerce. The committees also received briefings from the food ministry as well as the commerce ministry officials.

Officials of the Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation (Passco) informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Food Security that wheat stocks worth Rs4 billion had been damaged in the floods in Sindh and Balochistan.

The Passco managing director told the committee that the target of wheat procurement was fully achieved, but the floods had affected three out of 15 Passco zones – Dera Allahyar in Balochistan and Khairpur and Hyderabad in Sindh.

The Passco storages in these areas were under two to five feet of water, the MD told the participants of the meeting. “When the water drains out, only then it will be known how much wheat remains suitable for human consumption,” he said, adding that wheat worth Rs4 billion had been damaged.

Committee Chairman Rao Ajmal Khan noted that the floodwater in Sindh would take two months to drain out, while more time would be required to restore lands affected by the floods. He warned the area under wheat cultivation would be reduced by 20% in the next season.

While briefing the committee regarding the support price of wheat, the food security secretary said that the task had been given to the Agriculture Task Force to give a profitable price of wheat to farmers. He added that the cost of production of wheat had been estimated at Rs2,495 per 40 kilogrammes.

The secretary said that efforts were afoot to forge consensus among the provinces on wheat support price, adding that all the provinces had given their suggestions in this regard. He said that support price had been determined and shared with the prime minister.
“The government will allow wheat farmers to earn profit on wheat production because of the floods. Good support price of wheat will be announced and the government will try to give further benefits to the farmers,” the secretary said.

During the meeting, the Commerce Ministry briefed the committee on the availability of fertilisers. Officials said that 200,000 tons of DAP fertiliser was being imported from China and another 300,000 tons would be procured from Iran in exchange for rice.

The officials said that timely measures had been taken and there would be no shortage of fertiliser. The committee directed the ministry to ensure DAP supplies stressing that wheat production was heavily dependent on this fertiliser.

Separately, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce recommended to the government to fix wheat support price at Rs3,000 per 40 kilogramme and announce the new rate as early as possible so the growers could plan the cultivation of the commodity.
During the meeting, the Ministry of Food Security briefed members on the wheat situation.

The director general of the Agriculture Policy Institute informed participants that the prime minister had directed for taking input from the provinces before deciding about the support price.

The Sindh food secretary said that the rate of wheat was Rs8,200 per 100 kilogrammes the other day. He added that the wheat stored in houses had been lost in floods. Therefore, he added, the Sindh government wanted to keep the support price at Rs4,000.

The Punjab food secretary told the committee that the province expected the support price between Rs3,000 and Rs3,500. Committee member Ahmed Hussain Dehar said that last year the farmers had to sell wheat at Rs1,800.

Committee Chairman Raza Rabbani Khar observed that the support price should be announced soon. He said that the support price of Rs3,000 should be announced by September 15, adding that if the price was not announced in September, it would be too late.

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