LAHORE: The Punjab Food Department has signaled that it will change the volume and procedure for procurement of wheat starting next season given the large allocations the provincial government has to make for grain purchases.
“Because the urge to buy wheat requires huge expenditure, we will review procurement policies and procurement volumes,” Food Minister Abdul Aleem Khan was quoted as saying at a meeting held here to review the ongoing wheat procurement campaign and the availability of its products, especially flour, in open market.
The statement indicated the government’s intention to at least reduce the size of wheat procurement in accordance with an agreement with the World Bank.
The Punjab government has signed a $ 300 million agreement with international lenders to reform its agricultural market, specifically deregulating the wheat business and abolishing the role of the state reducing pressure on provincial cats to provide large funds for purchases and then issuing their storage. costs, etc.
The shortage of flour seems great
For the ongoing season, the government must allocate more than Rs150 billion of funds to buy 4.5 million tons of grain at a minimum support price of Rs1,400 per 40kg.
The Market Strengthening Program for Agriculture and Rural Transformation (SMART) will start from the 2018-19 wheat procurement season. However, so far little progress has been made.
A Food Ministry official said they planned to cut the grain purchase target to two million tons from the 2021-22 season even though a final decision would be taken at the end of the ongoing calendar year.
The minister was further quoted as saying that all stakeholders would be taken trust before changing procurement policies.
He also claimed that the province had reached its procurement target and is now arranging wheat for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and adding that starting next year both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will jointly buy wheat.
Meanwhile, the city is inching towards the flour crisis due to doubts during a meeting between the Department of Food and flour mills on the price of wheat products.
Citing an increase in the price of wheat on the open market and no supply to mills by the Department of Food at a controlled rate, the Punjab branch of the flour mill association has announced a proportional increase in flour prices with wheat tariffs in each provincial division three days ago.
The factories have reduced the supply of flour to retailers which has caused commodity shortages in some areas and if the standoff between the department and the industrialists continues for a few more days, the situation may become even more bleak.
The flour maker demands an increase of Rs 120 per 20 kg bags for the Lahore division, where the price of wheat on the open market has touched Rs 1,400 per 40kg mark, while the government is determined not to allow the increase.
Published in Dawn, June 1, 2020
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