KARACHI: Amid flourishing wheat imports, millers continue to play havoc with the prices as they jacked up the rate of flour no. 2.5 to Rs59 per kg on Wednesday.
The price of fine and super fine flour (maida) has been raised to Rs71 from Rs67 per kg. In the second week of September, the rates of flour no.2.5, fine and super fine flour were Rs57.50 and Rs61.50 per kg, respectively.
This hike came despite arrival of a vessel, Densa Jaguar, carrying 55,125 tonnes of wheat, at Port Qasim on Wednesday while another ship Julius Oldendroff with 55,000 tonnes is due today.
The new rate of 10kg flour bag has been fixed at Rs595, up from Rs585 while the price during the second week of September stood at Rs580.
Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) Sindh Zone Chairman Chaudhry Mohammad Yousuf attributed the hike to soaring rates of imported and locally produced wheat.
He quoted Rs5,500 per 100kg price of imported wheat bag which was Rs4,600 when it started arriving in the markets earlier in September. The rate of locally produced wheat has swelled to Rs5,700-5,800 per 100kg bag which was also at Rs4,800 last month. In April, this year, the 100kg grain bag was available at Rs3,500.
Yousuf said the open markets had been facing shortage of wheat as millers are usually lifting up very limited quantities of imported and local wheat due to very high prices.
The chairman said he had requested the Sindh government two days back to fix the issue price and start releasing wheat to the flour millers. The provincial administration’s representative had assured that the Sindh Cabinet would likely to fix the issue price by October 15, he said. Punjab government had already fixed the issue price at Rs3,687 per 100kg bag. He said he had asked the Sindh government to fix the issue price at Rs4,000 per 100kg in view to encourage growers for harvesting better crop next year. The province had procured 1.235 million tonnes from the growers this season. He said the federal government had fixed support price of Rs1,400 per 40kg wheat for purchasing from growers, which should be raised to Rs1,700 per 40kg to encourage growers.
World wheat prices have also continued to jack up on rising demand from various countries. The global grain rate is now quoted at over $270 per tonne, as against $235 per tonne last month, adding that flour millers had booked two vessels of Ukraine wheat at $253 per tonne. The first is arriving at the port in the next few days while another would dock next month and each carries 65,000 tonnes.
Giving a review on import of wheat by the private sector, Cereal Association of Pakistan Chairman Muzammil Chappal said seven vessels carrying 400,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat had arrived in September while another 400,000 tonnes in six ships loaded with Ukrainian wheat and one carrying German would reach the port in the current month.
Another 200,000 tonnes of German, Russian and Ukrainian wheat had been planned for November.
Disagreeing with the flour millers’ claim of Rs5,500 per 100kg price of imported wheat, he said the respective rate had risen to Rs5,000, from Rs 4,500 prevailing in the last week of October. Even after adding the transportation cost, imported wheat does not cost over Rs5,200 per 100kg bag.
The first ship carrying wheat had arrived at a price of $219 per tonne in the last week of August and now the rate is hovering at $278-280 per tonne, he claimed.
According to him, Pakistan needs 2.1m tonnes of wheat every month and the provincial governments and Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation have 6m tonnes which are sufficient for October to December.
The new crop of Sindh and Punjab would harvest in March and April respectively and the country needs more imports to control further hike in prices.
Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2020