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ISLAMABAD: The ministry of national food security and research announced on Friday that there was no threat to food security in the country or wheat shortage, adding that the damage caused to wheat, maize and gram crops owing to recent rains and stormy weather was only moderate.

“This situation does not indicate any shortage of wheat and speculations about the wheat shortage are incorrect,” the food ministry said in a statement.

The ministry is in complete liaison with provincial agriculture departments for updates about affected villages and subsequent crop losses due to recent rains, particularly in Punjab, according to the statement.

It says Minister for National Food Security and Research Mehboob Sultan is personally monitoring the situation on the ground, and he is undertaking visits to affected districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The ministry is collecting data for other crops and the Punjab agriculture department is working to reach out to all areas to gauge the losses. The ministry is also collecting data from other provinces.

The losses suffered by farmers are indeed painful news and the minister for national food security has reiterated that the government is doing its best to estimate the damage and monitor financial and human loss and relief would soon be announced for farmers affected by the calamity, according to the statement.

Mr Sultan further reiterated that in the face of the calamity the government stands by the farmers and there should not be any uncertainty among them. He held out the assurance that the government would provide every possible relief to affected farmers. He said that the prime minister had issued orders that no effort should be spared until the relief was provided to farmers affected by the rains.

The Met Office has also been asked to remain vigilant and maintain steady liaison with provincial agriculture departments so that timely weather report may be communicated to farmers.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2019