LAHORE: Apparently in view of grain shortage in the country during the harvesting season, the federal government has announced importing wheat to make up for the lower local yield this year.

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam says orders have already been placed for importing 0.5 million tonnes of wheat.

Mr Imam told a delegation of flour millers that to ensure food security, the government decided to import wheat and that most of the buying agreements in this regard had been signed for an early import, according to a meeting participant on Thursday.

The Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) team that met the minister comprised its central chairman Asim Raza, Punjab chief Abdul Rauf Mukhtar and Tariq Sadiq.

The PFMA representatives told the minister that the flour supply in the market was satisfactory and keeping in view the wheat stock there’s no risk of wheat products’ shortage in the country.

They demanded inclusion of the private sector in wheat import and enhancing the import target to 1.0 million ton by the public sector only to stabilise the prices in the local market and avert any untoward situation in the future.

They sought an increase in the wheat import quota for the private sector, which was presently set at 0.5 million ton.

They also sought waiver of 6 percent duty and 2pc additional tax on the import at once, besides allowing millers to export wheat byproducts, arguing that the step would serve as an incentive for the local farming community to grow more wheat in the next season.

The meeting participant claimed that the minister assured the delegation of “positive steps” in response to their demands and making a decision in this regard at the earliest.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020