KARACHI: Amid massive imports of wheat and new crops of the current season, consumers are facing severe price shocks in flour rates all over the country.
In Punjab, 20 kg flour bag prices reached Rs1,030 from Rs860 a couple of days ago due to a halt in supply of subsidised wheat to the flour mills. Taking cue from Punjab millers, flour mill owners in Sindh have also followed suit.
The price of Sindh’s new wheat crop has soared to Rs5,500 per 100 kg bag in the open market which was Rs4,800-5,000 when it started arriving in mid-March. As a result, flour millers have increased the rate of flour No.2.5 to 61.50, up by Rs7 per kg in the last one week followed by same increase made in fine and super fine flour to Rs65 per kg, respectively.
Chairman Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) Sindh Zone Chaudhry Muhammad Yousuf said wheat supply from interior Sindh has been suspended for the last three days.
“I have asked Sindh Secretary Food Sindh to remove hurdles being placed by the Food Department Staff/Civil Administration for wheat transportation to flour mills of Karachi from interior Sindh,” he said, adding that the situation has further become more serious as wheat transportation to Karachi has not been restored.
He said that he had informed Secretary Food about the situation, “which would lead to drying up of the mills resulting in flour shortage and rising prices”.
Yousuf said he had also taken up the matter with Chief Secretary of Sindh regarding non-release of vehicles to Karachi.
The PFMA chief said Karachi needs 75,000 bags of 100 kg for daily consumption but for the last three days the supply of wheat from interior Sindh has been suspended.
Flour millers, he added, had also met Prime Minister Imran Khan last week in Islamabad to discuss wheat and flour situation. He said he had informed the PM there should be a free movement of wheat without any hurdles to ensure price stability.
He said the millers had asked the PM to allow export flour related products, urging that there was no harm in import of wheat in times of crisis.
The Sindh government has raised wheat procurement price of Rs2,000, up from Rs1,400 per 40 kg bag which translates to Rs5,000 per 100 kg bag. In Punjab, procurement rate for the growers is Rs4,500 per 100 kg bag.
The price of five kg and 10 kg branded flour bags has risen to Rs380 and Rs740 from Rs340 and Rs680.
Consumers are paying high prices for flour during Ramazan despite import of 3.6 million tonnes of wheat from July to March 2020-2021 costing $983m. Sindh crop has almost fully arrived by mid-April while Punjab crop has started arriving from the second week of this month.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2021