Procurement target for wheat
may be revised
Mohammad Hussain Khan
May 30, 2011: THE Sindh government may get the current wheat
procurement target revised from the federal government
following a bumper crop. The target at 1.3 million tons is
also 0.2 million tons short of that fixed last year.
According to Sindh Food Secretary Mohammad Naseer Jamali the
target may be revised any time. So far the Sindh government
has procured 1.2 million tons of wheat.
The agriculture department’s crop reporting service section
estimates that the province has produced around 4.2 million
tons of wheat mainly due to increase in acreage and fair
amount of inputs after last year’s floods. Katcha area on
the right and left banks of the River Indus was brought
under wheat cultivation. Farmers took full advantage of
soil’s fertility and moisture after the floods.
Wheat was sown on 1.1 million hectares last year and
production was recorded at 3.5 million tons. This year 1.2
million hectares have been brought under wheat cultivation.
Wheat benefited by weather conditions besides water remained
fairly accessible in areas where canal system was intact.
Unusual lengthy cold spell supported the crop.
General Secretary of Sindh Abadgar Board Mehmood Nawaz Shah,
however, sees no justification in the provincial
government’s initiative to get procurement target revised at
this point of time. He argues that it will benefit the
“Growers have already sold their produce. If target is
revised the middlemen are set to make an extra buck,” he
He claims that hardly 25 per cent of the procurement is made
through grwers.” wheat has been hoarded by middlemen, bought
at lower rates and recalls that “we had urged the government
to set wheat procurement target at 1.5 million tons in view
The Sindh government can store 600,000 metric tons in its
own godowns. The rest is either kept in godowns of flour
mills or preserved under conventional methods. Around
150,000-200,000 tons of wheat is kept in government’s
reserved centres, Jamali said. “I think around one to 1.1
million tons will be stored and preserved in godowns and
under conventional practices,” he says. Of the last year’s
reserved stock of 325,000 tons, 15,000 to 20,000 tons
remained with the government, while the rest was exported,
The federal government provides ceiling to provincial
government for purchase of wheat with financing at the rate
of 16 per cent. Punjab was given target of 3.5 million tons
Procurement is mainly made by provincial food departments or
by Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supplies Organisation
(Passco). The food department then sells wheat to flour
mills and chakkis and repays the loan to the federal
Wheat support price was fixed at Rs950 per 40kg by but in
majority cases, farmers didn’t get the price. They were
unable to sell wheat directly to food department as they
didn’t get gunny bags and ended up selling it to middlemen
at lower rates. They complain that food officials purchased
wheat from dealers and middlemen at official rates as both
sides earned money illegally. Sindh Food secretary did admit
that there were complaints of non-provision of gunny bags in
the province but the issue was resolved. “We did provide
bags to farmers,” he claims.
In upper Sindh area like Sukkur region comprising five
districts of Ghotki, Khairpur Mirs, Sukkur, Naushahro Feroze
and Benazirabad, transportation of wheat remained a problem
until recently. Sukkur region food official Qaiser Khan Rahu
said that against 60,000 metric tons target of wheat, 55,000
metric tons had been purchased so far. Around 32,000 metric
tons of wheat would mostly be sent to Karachi. Tenders for
wheat transportation had been floated.
Growers resent food officials’ indifferent attitude towards
wheat procurement. Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) office-bearer
Abdul Majeed Nizamani estimates losses to farmers at Rs1875
million on account of non-payment of actual support price to
growers by food department officials, who preferred to
purchase wheat through middlemen and dealers.
“On an average, growers sold their wheat between Rs860 to
Rs880 per 40kg against support price of Rs950. As per our
calculation of 1.3 million tons of wheat procurement only
0.3 to 0.4 million tons of wheat is purchased directly from
growers at actual price,” he claims.
Courtesy: The DAWN