Wheat farmers being fleeced by hoarders

March 27, 2013

By Tanveer Sher

Wheat farmers
Wheat farmers

KARACHI: The wheat farmers are being fleeced by hoarders due to absence of concerned minister in the present Sindh caretaker set-up and lack of storage facilities, sources in the Sindh Food Department said on Tuesday.

They have no other option but to go to the wheat procurement camps to sell their produce where hoarders and stockists purchase the commodity from them at Rs 2,850 per 100 kilogrammes (kgs), which is Rs 150 less than the official rates of Rs 3,000 per 100 kgs. These hoarders and stockists having storage facilities stock the commodity and later sell it at Rs 3,200 to Rs 3,300 per 100 kgs.

It may be recalled here that new wheat crop from Sindh districts of Tando Allahyar and Mirpurkhas has started arriving at the open market in bulk but due to lack of its procurement policy owing to dissolution of political set-up some one week ago, the farmers and growers are in a quandary regarding selling their annual yield.

Every year the Sindh Food Department purchases around 1.3 million tonnes of wheat from farmers at official rates but this year with the arrival of the new crop in the market and specially non-availability of gunny bags, farmers are at a loss to understand where to store wheat and whom to sell at official rates.

The situation was well exploited by hoarders and exporters, who are offering cash to them for on spot bulk buying of the commodity at lower than the official rates. Finding no other choice specially when official procurement does not appear to be insight, farmers and growers of the commodity are compelled to fall prey to their incentive and dispose of their yield at lower rates.

A leading wheat trader talking to the scribe said, prevailing situation speaks volumes of exploitation of farmers and growers interests by hoarders stocking huge quantity of the commodity in their secret godowns.

Later, the same wheat purchased at lower rates would be brought into the open market by these elements the moment its shortage will push rates of the commodity higher ranging from Rs 32 to Rs 33 per kg, thus making windfall profits during a short span of time.

In case of commencement of export of the wheat to international buyers, which currently stands at $300 per metric tonnes, their profit would multiply as the dollar is currently fetching Rs 100 against the rupee.

The bureaucracy in the provincial food department handling such matters appears helpless to take any decision regarding procurement of the commodity from farmers and growers in interior Sindh, majority of which endured the whole year expecting higher reward for their yield following higher rates fixed by the previous government for the commodity.

He claimed the situation is also alarming in the sense that caretaker set-up might show reluctance in making any decision regarding wheat procurement drive as already the Sindh government is heavily indebted and unable to clear previous year’s loan it had acquired from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for purchasing the commodity from farmers and buyers.

Unless they do not clear previous year’s dues, they are most unlikely to receive a new one from the SBP thus clearly hindering their ability to make any new purchases of the fresh crop from farmers in interior Sindh. Source Daily Times

Published:  Zarai Media Team

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