LAHORE: Private purchase, transportation and storage of wheat, except for personal use, has been disallowed and neither feed mills nor unregistered seed companies are permitted to procure wheat this season, says Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan.

Presiding over a meeting in the backdrop of the current wheat scandal, which pointed out that Punjab procured less than its target last year and led to shortages, the chief secretary said the target this year had been set at 4.5 million ton and “field officers have to work day and night to meet the challenge.”

The meeting was attended by the additional chief secretary, the food secretary, the commissioner and officers concerned whereas divisional commissioners joined through video link.

The meeting decided that only licence holders would purchase the grain during the wheat procurement campaign.

The chief secretary ordered stern action against hoarders, asking administrative officers to coordinate with law-enforcement agencies to check hoarding. He said the policy of “first come first served” would be followed in the campaign, adding the limit of gunny bags was set between 200 and 1,000.

He directed that all possible facilities be provided to farmers and SOPs regarding coronavirus be implemented at the wheat procurement centres by disinfecting premises and ensuring availability of masks, sanitisers and soaps for hand wash. The meeting also decided to depute officials of law-enforcement agencies and civil defence at each centre and set up dispute resolution committees at the district level to address farmers’ problems.

The meeting was briefed that online registration of farmers and issuance of gunny bags had started in Rajanpur district. The meeting was told that inter-provincial and district movement of wheat would be regulated through an application developed in collaboration with the PITB.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020