Govt to offload wheat stocks in open market to stabilise prices

June 20, 2019

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FAISALABAD: Farmers are seen harvesting wheat crop in the field.—APP
FAISALABAD: Farmers are seen harvesting wheat crop in the field.—APP

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is likely to offload wheat stocks in the open market to stabilise the commodity’s price and discourage hoarding and profiteering.

The Wheat Review Committee in its meeting on Wednesday, chaired by Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan, assessed the per 40kg price of the commodity, its procurement by the government, market situation, exports and crop losses due to unfavourable weather conditions.

Currently, provinces are holding 24.279 million tonnes of wheat stocks along with additional left­over of 3.721m tonnes. This takes the total availability of wheat to 28m tonnes, well above the national and domestic requirement of about 25.84m tonnes.

Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) has procured wheat for the 2018-19 and is expected to release it in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa next month, according to sources privy to the committee meeting. Passco mediates in the market for national and export purposes.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Sultan emphasised the need to determine the causes of price variation and upward trend of wheat and put forward concrete solution to arrest the upward trend of wheat price. One of the measures could be regulation on the export and import of wheat, he suggested.

The federal minister asked the provincial governments to apprise the ministry about the current stock situation in their respective provinces and price and quality assessment mechanism of the wheat.

The meeting was attended by Punjab Food Minister Sami Ullah Chaudhry, secretaries, representative of State Bank, flour mills association, wheat exporters, provincial food departments, Passco and experts of the ministry.

The committee noticed that the increase in wheat price in the market was also due to the use of the commodity by the feed industry. Price of maize in the market is higher than wheat, and for this reason feed industry is using latter.

The federal minister hoped that releasing of wheat from the public stocks would help correct the situation. He directed that private sector procurement of wheat must also be assessed and price monitoring system should also be devised and the provincial governments must release wheat from local stock keeping in view the price hike and gravity of the situation.

He strongly recommended a crackdown against hoarders who are responsible not only for price hike but also uncertainty in the market.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2019