KARACHI: Flour millers in Karachi on Friday increased the price of various flour varieties by Rs3 per kilo on “rising wheat prices caused by disruption in grain supply” from various other districts of Sindh to Karachi.

The new rate of flour no. 2.5 has been fixed at Rs45 per kg while fine flour and super fine flour (maida) rates have been increased to Rs47 per kg.

The new rate of 10kg flour bag no. 2.5 is now Rs455 as compared to Rs425.

Chairman of the Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA), Sindh zone, Khalid Masood said wheat rate after continuously remaining under pressure had swelled to Rs4,000 per 100kg bag in the open market from Rs3,850 two days back while it was Rs3,500 last week.

He said PFMA had been sending letters frequently to the provincial food department and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah regarding interception of trailers carrying wheat from various districts of Sindh to the metropolis, leading to shortage of wheat in flour mills as well as in open market.

Despite repeated attempts, the issue of intercepting trailers and releasing the trucks and drivers after taking ‘bribe’ still persists, they added.

In some cases, wheat is being shifted to government warehouses for meeting procurement target.

He put the responsibility of price hike of flour on the provincial government, which “failed to take any serious action against the staff and officials for not releasing trailers carrying wheat for Karachi”.

The Sindh government had banned purchase of wheat by private flour mills from Badin, Sujawal, Thatta and Mirpurkhas.

However, lifting of wheat from other districts is allowed.

According to information department press release of April 29, the Sindh food department had directed deputy directors of food Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sukkur, Larkana and all the district food controllers to expedite the process of wheat procurement and ensure to achieve 1.4 million tonnes target for season 2020.

Wheat procurement commenced on March 26, 2020 and so far 40 per cent of the target has been achieved which cannot be termed satisfactory performance at the stage, the government believed.

Khalid Masood said as per government’s wheat procurement rate of Rs1,400 per 40kg from growers, there is a cushion of Rs5 per kg in government and open market wheat rates.

The price of grain costs Rs35 per kg while in open market it sells at Rs40 per kg.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2020