Sindh Food Department procures 300,000 tonnes less wheat
By Tanveer Sher
KARACHI: Sindh Food Department after hectic efforts managed to procure around a million tonne wheat out of a total target of 1.3 million tonne set for the current year.
Previous year the target of 1.3 million tonne was achieved with relative ease but this year the goal appeared to be a Herculean task mainly owing to absence of a permanent minister of the provincial food department owing to which the campaign of wheat procurement started off late.
According to an official of the Sindh Food Department, the caretaker incharge minister did not display any keenness to start the wheat procurement drive in time as a consequence the farmers and growers in Sindh interior were exploited by the hoarders and exporters of the commodity.
In majority of cases, farmers were compelled to sell their yield at lower rates of Rs 2,800 per 100 kilogrammes (kg) compared to Rs 3,000 per 100 kg set by the federal government for the current year.
At a later stage when the official campaign relating top wheat procurement was launched by the provincial food department they were compelled to employ administrative powers to acquire required quantity of the commodity mainly due to the fact majority of the wheat had already been sold out by the farmers.
Like every year, section 144 relating to place ban on intra-district wheat movement was employed by the Sindh Food Department to realise their desired goal, but despite their best efforts they have so far been able to procure hardly one million tonne of wheat with clear indication they may fall short of their target.
The Sindh food department may feel the pinch when before next March when new crop harvesting will start, they would not be able to cater requirement of flour mills and chakki running outlets forcing it to seek help of either Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Service Corporation (PASCO) or seek help of Punjab to replenish the availability gap thus placing the department in an awkward position, claimed an official of the All Pakistan Flour Mills Association Sindh Chapter.
Meanwhile the ex-mill flour continue to be sold out to consumers at higher rates of Rs 37.50 per kg compared to one fixed by the city administration as majority of retailers have termed the price of Rs 33.50 fixed by the government functionaries as unrealistic.
How come a retailer can supply the ex-mill flour to buyers at low rates purchased at higher cost from flourmills clearly exposing ill-conceived approach of city administration as they appear far away from ground realities, said a retailer at Empress Market.
Similar complain was highlighted by the chakki flour owners who claimed they are forced by the city administration to sell their products at lower cost of Rs 40 to Rs 41 while they can hardly afford a price of less than Rs 42 per kg. Daily Times