The provincial government would procure 4 million metric tonnes (MMT) of wheat this year during a procurement drive starting on April 25, a Food Department official said on Thursday.
“A bumper crop of 19.5 million tonnes is expected this year. The provincial government has, therefore, offered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan governments and private traders to procure wheat against a support price of Rs1,300 per 40 kilogrammes,” he told The Express Tribune.
The official said the province’s wheat requirement for 2015 had been calculated at 3.5 to 4 million metric tonnes.
He said there would be no ban on inter-provincial transportation of wheat. This would result in a healthy competition among the buyers, he said. He said the department would do its best to ensure that the grain was sold at the government price. He said the department had obtained a Rs130 billion loan from various banks to make arrangements for the procurement campaign.
The official said a 24-hour monitoring and toll-free complaint mechanism would be introduced at 376 procurement centers to be set up across the province. He said the department had a carry-forward stock of 1.9MMT of wheat.
“The government has decided to export 1MMT of wheat with the Economic Coordination Committee’s approval. A similar quantity will be kept as strategic reserves,” he said.
According to the 2015 wheat procurement policy, eight gunny bags per acre will be provided to farmers following the Revenue Department’s verification. Procurement centres will procure wheat in designated bags only. Farmers will start receiving gunny/polypropylene bags from April 15. Under the policy, a farmer will be able to obtain a maximum of 200 bags at a time.
The official said the department would purchase wheat from ‘middlemen’ to meet its target. He said district coordination officers would appoint a centre coordinator at each procurement centre to ensure transparency in the process. He said the coordinators would have powers to question and take action, if need be, against delinquent officials of Revenue and Food Departments.
The official said the department would do its best to procure 70 per cent of the crop during the first 15 days of the campaign. After that other stakeholders would be allowed to procure it, he said.
Food Secretary Pervaiz Ahmed said the provincial government planned to export 1MMT of wheat this year. “We have invited private buyers and government departments from other provinces to procure wheat at the fixed price,” he said.
He said the government had constituted a committee to monitor the procurement process. A software has been developed to monitor the monitors, he said.
He said the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation would procure 1.5MMT of wheat from the Punjab this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2015.