LAHORE: Punjab claims to have achieved 100 per cent wheat procurement target of 3.5 million tonnes fixed for the province this season.
“We’ve achieved the procurement target of 3.5m tonnes within the stipulated time for the first time in history,” Punjab Food Minister Abdul Aleem Khan claimed on Thursday.
Sharing procurement details, he said Bahawalpur division produced most of the wheat, with Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan securing second and third spots. The department bought 630,576 tonnes of the grain from Bahawalpur, 541,941 tonnes from Multan and 506,270 tonnes from DG Khan divisions. Whereas 469,626 tonnes of wheat was procured from Faisalabad, 419,198 tonnes from Gujranwala, 332,954 tonnes from Sahiwal, 316,415 tonnes from Lahore and 277,793 tonnes from Sargodha division.
Rawalpindi division, a mostly rain-fed area, contributed just 5,090 tonnes to the food department’s buying spree.
Passco lags behind as farmers withhold produce hoping for better price
Mr Khan claimed that no complaint regarding distribution of gunny bags or payment for the procured wheat was received from anywhere in the province.
Commending the efforts of his department as well as of the district administration in achieving the procurement goal, he said the procurement centres would continue to operate as far as farmers were bringing wheat there for sale.
The Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Ltd (Passco) is, however, facing difficulties in achieving its 1.2m tonne wheat procurement target in Punjab, while it had already decided against buying the grain from Sindh because of a difference of Rs200 in the price there.
The federal government had announced Rs1,800 per 40 kilogrammes as the minimum support price for wheat, but the Sindh government had fixed it at Rs2,000 per 40kg.
An official of Passco, a federal entity tasked with maintaining strategic reserves and supplying the staple food to areas such as Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir that are deficient in its production, said that so far they had procured only 650,000 tonnes of wheat from Punjab, where it was allotted 13 tehsils for the procurement.
He said they were facing a tough competition from flour millers, particularly in Hafizabad and Bahawalnagar districts, where farmers were withholding their produce in the hope of getting an even better price in the open market after the procurement drive of the federal and Punjab governments was over.
Punjab Agriculture Minister Hussain Jehanian Gardezi has claimed that the province has harvested around 20.9m tonnes of wheat this season against the 19.4m tonnes last year — showing an increase of 1.5m tonnes in the crop output in a year.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2021