KARACHI: Pakistan is set to achieve the wheat export target of 1.4 million tonnes by sea route ahead of June, as exports of the commodity in a single month continue to break new records.
The country exported 241,522 tonnes in March alone, fetching $47m while wheat exports in April exceeded 300,000 tonnes —highest-ever in a single month in country’s history — Chairman FPCCI Standing Committee on Export and member Wheat Traders Association of Pakistan, Mehmood Moulvi claimed.
The government in December 2017 had allowed exports of 2m tonnes of wheat and wheat products before June 30 to clear carryover stocks as new crop finds way into the market.
“We will achieve the wheat export target of 1.4m tonnes by May end, which will be a new record in just few months instead of in one full year,” he said confidently. The grain is being exported to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Dubai, Muscat, Oman, etc. at a price of $185-200 per tonne.
He said wheat export target via land route is 600,000 tonnes, adding that he could not comment on its export.
Attractive subsidy and prices in world markets have given boost to the exports while devaluation of the rupee against the dollar provided extra support to foreign shipments, he said.
Wheat trader and broker, Altaf Nini said he has been in the trading business since 1973 and the wheat shipments in a single month had never so impressive like in March and April.
Pakistan resumed its wheat exports from February 2018 – after a gap of five months — by sending 65,649 tonnes that earned $12.5m compared to nil foreign sales of the commodity since September 2017.
However, wheat price in local market crawled up to 3,125 per 100 kg bag from Rs 2,975 prevailing in first week of March 2018.
Nini said the market price has nothing to do with exports as foreign shipments are being made on government’s rate of Rs3,250 per 100 kg bag. The government is providing an export subsidy of $120 per tonne by land and $169 per tonne by sea routes.
During 2017-18, wheat crop was cultivated on an area of 8,734 hectares, showing a decrease of 2.6 per cent compared to 8,000 hectares during the corresponding period last year.
Wheat production stood at 25.492m tonnes during 2017 recording a decline of 4.4pc over the production of 26.674mn tonnes last year, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-2018. The survey attributed shortfall in production to decline in area sown, delayed and prolonged sugarcane crushing season, acute water shortages and fog and smog in the country.
Chairman All Pakistan Flour Mills Association Chaudhry Ansar said Pakistan’s wheat stocks from last year now stand at six million tonnes. New crop has already arrived in the market, he added.
He said the government has been lethargic in providing rebate on the export of wheat and flour and so far Rs4 billion of flour millers had been held up in rebate claim since February 2017.
Mr Ansar said wheat exports through land route could not be made despite subsidy of $120 per tonne while wheat prices in world markets are on the decline. He said subsidy of land route should be brought at par with sea rate of $159 per tonne to tap traditional Afghanistan market.
Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association Chairman Anis Majeed said there is a need to build more silos and godowns so that surplus wheat could be stored and it could be exported keeping in view world market prices and demand.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2018