Flour crisis looming as Punjab halts wheat supply

Updated 26 Oct 2019


Peshawar witnesses sudden increase in flour price. — Dawn/File
Peshawar witnesses sudden increase in flour price. — Dawn/File

PESHAWAR: There are fears that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be hit by a flour crisis in the days ahead as the Punjab government has prohibited the movement of wheat and flour out of the province causing a sudden increase in price in Peshawar.

During a visit to the retail market on Friday, this correspondent observed that the price of a 20kg flour bag had gone up by Rs80, 20kg mixed flour bag’s by Rs40 and 80kg bag’s by Rs400-Rs600.

Pakistan Flour Mills Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chairman Haji Mohammad Iqbal told Dawn that the Punjab government had suspended wheat supply without citing any reason.

He said the PTI ruled both the centre and KP but even then, flour crisis was looming in the province.

“We met the food department’s officials and demanded an increase in wheat quota for local mills from 2,000 metric tons to 5,000 metric tons on a daily basis but the government is not ready to do so,” he said.

Mr Iqbal said the province’s around 50 per cent flour mills had closed down due to the indifference of the government to their problems.

Peshawar witnesses sudden increase in flour price

He said KP procured 95 per cent of the required flour from Punjab, so the suspension of supply would create a serious flour crisis in the province.

The PFMA chairman feared that the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s march on Islamabad and the two-day trader strike would aggravate the situation.

He said fine atta,maida and semolina were frequently transported to Afghanistan and thus, worsening shortage in the province.

“We took up these issues with the provincial government but unfortunately, no one is willing to pay heed to them,” he said.

Mr Iqbal warned that if the government didn’t resolve problems, more flour mills would shut down.

An official document shows that the Punjab government has begun checking the movement of wheat and flour in areas bordering KP, including, including Trimun, Bowatta, Shaiwala in DG Khan division, Jinnah and Chashma of Sargodha division, Attock, Jhari Kas and Khushalgarh of Rawalpindi division and Kot Sabzai and Dauwala of Rahim Yar Khan.

When contacted, food minister Qalandar Khan Lodhi said he was aware of the situation.

He said the food secretary met the relevant authorities in Punjab to seek the early restoration of the supply of wheat and flour.

When asked about a possible flour crisis in the province, the minister said, “What can I say?”

He, however, said he hoped that the food secretary’s meeting with Punjab authorities would restore wheat supply to KP.

Information minister Shaukat Yousafzai wasn’t available for comments on the matter despite repeated telephonic calls.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2019