Weighing in concerns for wheat farmers

Anwer Hussain Sumra April 19, 2010

LAHORE: Pakistan agricultural storage and services corporation (Passco) would extract 64 million kilogrammes of extra wheat worth Rs 15.2 billion during current year’s wheat procurement campaign, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Section 17 of Passco’s wheat procurement policy states that the “weight of an empty bag is 1.100 kg and a filled bag shall weigh in at 101.500 kg”. This entitles the corporation to get 0.4kg extra wheat from every 100kg bag that it would purchase from farmers at a cost of Rs2,350 (while the actual cost to the farmer will be Rs2,359 i.e. a loss of Rs9.5 per bag).

Maqsood Ahmed Randhawa, acting managing director Passco, has told The Express Tribune that the additional 0.4 kg wheat was being charged to cover up for the variance in moisture levels. He said the Passco has to store the wheat stocks for a long period of time and much of the stock dried up. The additional quantity would compensate for the dried stock in 2010.

“Farmers are responsible for the limitations in the quality of wheat, why should Passco suffer for this?” Randawa claimed. He said farmers would be informed about the additional quantity when the procurement process starts. He added that there was no need for cabinet’s approval because the extra quantity was being charged under a tacit understanding between the purchasers and sellers.

“If they meet the ten per cent moister benchmark then no additional quantity would be deducted,” Randhawa added. Last year, the weight of the filled bag was 101.1 kg (100kg wheat + 1.1kg empty bag). The federal government, with the approval of the prime minister, has assigned a target of 1.6million tons of wheat to the Passco for 2010. It is scheduled to purchase 1.56 million tons from Punjab and 0.04 million tons from Sindh.

Passco has also set quality standards of the wheat to be purchased. It should not contain more than 10 per cent moisture content , five per cent dirt/dust, three per cent other grains, three per cent damaged and shriveled grains.


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