The government has deferred plans to export its surplus wheat, the minister for food and agriculture said on Monday, after devastating floods washed away grain stocks and raised concerns about the next crop.
Pakistan, Asia’s third-largest wheat producer, said in April it would export 2 million tons of wheat after a bumper crop of 23.86 million tons in 2009-10, and a carryover of 4.2 million tons from the previous crop. But it held back exports because of low prices in the international market until a recent rally.
“When the next crop is sown then we will have an idea of how big the surplus is and then we will make a decision,” Food Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal told a news conference.
Wheat is sown from late October to December. “We need to see over how much area we can plant wheat,” Gondal said.
The minister also announced Rs1,800 per 40 kg, as the purchasing price for canola/sunflower and set a target of one million acre to be utilised for edible oil sowing in the flood-affected areas of Pakistan.
Gondal dispelled the speculation that the country might face a severe shortage as the floods have greatly damaged the wheat stocks in the country.
He said that enough strategic reserves are laying in the public sector to meet the local needs. The minister added that the government would help and assist the worst hit farmers of the country to enable them in reviving the agriculture sector.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2010.
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