MEDIA reports indicate that a serious crisis is developing as far as procurement and storage of wheat is concerned. As per these reports, the country already has wheat stocks of 3.2m tones and a procurement target of 5.7m tones has been fixed for the current crop and there are apprehensions that the wheat will have to be stored at open places because of lack of storage capacity.
It is a matter of pride for Pakistan that despite rapid increase in population the country still has the capacity to produce more wheat than its domestic requirements. This speaks volumes about hard work of our farmers and farmer-friendly policies of government. There were fears that agriculture sector would not perform well due to falling prices of agricultural commodities in international market but government acted timely and provided necessary support to farmers and as a consequence we have good wheat crop.
Apart from addressing issues of quality, grading and packaging, the country should have constructed enough silos to stock wheat, rice and pulses but federal and provincial governments as well as private sector have not paid due attention to this aspect. Every year huge quantities of wheat perish under the open sky due to vagaries of weather. We are also facing problem in export of the surplus as governments hiked procurement price unrealistically.
Now millers are demanding $170 per tone rebate for export to make our wheat competitive in the global market. We have been urging in these columns that instead of providing relief to foreign customers and consumers, government should lower prices of inputs so that wheat is available to domestic consumers at cheaper rates. We hope Federal and Provincial Governments would sort out these issues through mutual consultations.