Need for comprehensive wheat
storage and export policy
harvested a record wheat crop of about 22 million tonnes,
last year, which far exceed its domestic requirements.
This enabled it to dispense with the import of wheat
altogether.On the contrary, it has an appreciable exportable
Now, Pakistan has to formulate a comprehensive wheat
export policy so that the surplus wheat is channelled in the
export outlets profitability.
Unfortunately, this has not yet been done.However,
efforts are afoot to export wheat to the needy nations and
some qualities have already been exported to Afghanistan,
Iraq and some other countries.
A public sector corporation viz Trading Corporation of
Pakistan (TCP) has been given the responsibility to do the
job. TCP's modus operandi in this regard is not clear.
Sometimes it exports direct to some countries and at other
times through inviting the private traders/exporters to
enter into contract with it for some specified volumes to be
Consequently, with such lopsided efforts, we have not been
able to achieve much success to export wheat in greater
volumes and huge quantities are still lying unsold with the
risk of deterioration on account of inadequate and
unscientific poor storage capacity.
Now, our wheat is more than a year old, and is greatly
vulnerable to loss of qualities and decrease in its selling
Under such challenging situation, we have to gird up our
loins tightly to make the post-harvest treatment of wheat as
scientific as possible.
In order to increase the storage life of wheat, the foremost
priority is to be given to store it in godowns or silos
scientifically constructed having proper light and
Presently, in Pakistan, proper storage facilities (both in
public and private sectors) are far below the requirements.
These faulty arrangements in the public sector are available
mainly for wheat, rice and cotton.
In 1992-93 the National Logistics Cell (NLC) constructed
silos of varying capacities at Khairpur, Karachi,
Chichawatni, Faisalabad and Quetta.
Sometimes back the International Monetary Fund (IMF), also
assisted Pakistan in the construction of 540,000 tonnes
storage facility for wheat and rice.
Apart from this, temporary storage is also made available
during the peak harvesting seasons. But such ad hoc efforts
can hardly cope with a situation of stable surplus wheat
As in the present condition,
when movement of wheat in the export outlets is pretty slow,
we greatly need its storage in a proper and scientific way
to safeguard it from deterioration.
Because of lack of proper
silos, as per recent press reports, a large volume of wheat
has been rendered non-edible causing considerable loss of
revenue to the national exchequer.
Some losses have also
reportedly occurred due to the quality of freshly harvested
wheat not being up-to the mark. As such not only the
post-harvest but harvest practices should also be improved.
A commodity already in bad condition, when kept even in the
scientifically constructed storage equipped with temperature
control device, is more vulnerable to further damage. Thus,
there is a dire need to supplement our efforts in this
regard with the adoption of improved scientific practices in
respect of harvesting, thrashing, winnowing etc.
This may cause quality uplift
of the wheat harvested. When kept in storage even for a long
time, it may be least vulnerable to loss of quality.
Among post-harvest activities, another prerequisite for
facilitating expert of wheat is its grading before export in
a scientific manner duly approved by ISO.
In this way we shall be able
to ensure our prospective foreign buyers better quality of
our wheat successfully. Thus, we shall also meet the
competition in the foreign market, particularly from the
long established export giants like USA, Canada, Australia
While taking the necessary measures to embark on a wheat
export programme for accelerating its pace of movement in
the export outlets, we must also keep the momentum of wheat
production achievable after a long time and with great
In the past except during 1964-65 when we harvested a bumper
crop of wheat, our production had been persistingly far
below our domestic requirements. Even in the recent past
from 1996-97 to 1998-99 wheat production did not exceed
18,694,000 tonnes (1997-98).
It only attained an enviable
level of about 22,000 tonnes in 2000-2001, affording a
formidable exportable surplus for the disposal of which in a
profitable manner, we are struggling hard in the foreign
market. However, a modest beginning has already been made in
this regard as stated above.
In reaching the situation of surplus wheat production, to
find out how much time was taken, it shall not be out of
place to have a retrospective view of the situation.
Before independence only one district Lyallpur (now
Faisalabad) falling in that part of the sub-continent which
now forms Pakistan was called "the granary of wheat,"
feeding most of the wheat deficient provinces of India.
Due to the hostile attitude
of India, this activity came to a stand-still with the
result that wheat production in the above stated district
received a great setback so much so that Pakistan itself
also felt the brunt of the situation and started to import
sizeable quantities of wheat from abroad to overcome the
According to FAO Production Year Book 1988, in the global
wheat production of 509952 ('000' metric tonnes, Pakistan's
share was as insignificant as 1597 (000 metric tonnes)
accounting for only 0.31 percent.
Against this, Pakistan's
share in the world import of 98,865 (thousand metric tonnes)
was 378 (thousand metric tonnes) or 4.24 percent. Obviously,
Pakistan could not figure anywhere in the world wheat export
scenario of 100476 (thousand metric tonnes).
With the above adverse situation of wheat production looming
large for more than half-a-century, Pakistan after all has
now emerged successful from an importing to exporting
country. Now to maintain this position Pakistan should not
be oblivious of what it has to do.
In order to meet the challenge of maintaining the momentum
of wheat production and disposing of its surplus profitably
in the international market, it seems essential to set up a
high-level institution at the national level to which
specific responsibilities in this regard should be
The establishment of a
National Wheat Board on the pattern of the Canadian Wheat
Board may be an ideal choice.
Along with the above steps,
'Eat-more-Wheat', like 'grow-more-wheat' campaign may also
be launched to increase the domestic consumption of wheat
minimising the pressure on other cereals as well as on other
edible items. This campaign may be successful by introducing
novel and attractive items of wheat products.
Views presented here are of those of the writer
and Pakissan.com is not liable them.