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LAHORE: The Punjab government on Wednesday approved wheat procurement policy for the harvesting season starting from April 10 but without setting any procurement target.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar presided over a high-level meeting at Civil Secretariat here which approved the wheat procurement policy for the current year.

The [procurement] price will remain unchanged at Rs1,300 per 40 kg as the chief minister gave the ‘vague’ statement that each and every grain will be purchased from the growers.

The meeting decided that receiving of applications for the distribution of gunny bags will start from April 8 while April 15 will be the deadline for the purpose. Distribution of gunny bags will commence from April 21.

CM approves policy, saying ‘each and every grain’ will be purchased

The chief minister pledged to protect interests of wheat growers especially the small landholders. He said provision of fixed wheat rate to farmers must be ensured and distribution of gunny bags should be transparent.

Similarly, all necessary facilities will be provided to the farmers at wheat procurement centres and complaint cells will be established at provincial, divisional, district and tehsil levels.

He directed the provincial ministers, advisers and special assistants to visit wheat procurement centres to personally campaign.

Punjab has sown wheat on around 6.35 million acres of land. Almost each year small landholders complain that only ‘influential’ growers obtain gunny bags as well as get their produce procured by the food department, leaving the poor farmers high and dry.

Most of the wheat, between three and four million tons, is procured by the Punjab food department, while the federal government’s agency Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) also buys between 1.2 and 1.5 million tons of grains as part of maintaining strategic reserves and stabilising market prices.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2019