LAHORE: The Pakistan Agri­­cultural Storage and Services Corporation Limited (Passco) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), both public sector federal entities, for the import of 1.5 million tonnes of wheat.

“We have signed an MoU with the TCP for the import of 1.5 million tonnes of wheat to maintain strategic grain reserves during the crop year from April 1 to March 30,” Passco General Manager (Field) Mazahar Iqbal told Dawn here on Tuesday.

Actually the TCP would be importing 2m tonnes of wheat of which 500,000 tonnes would be for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said.

Although the country has reaped a bumper crop of wheat at 27.3m tonnes this season, it still falls short of meeting its annual demand of 29m tonnes. The federal government has allowed a total import of 4m tonnes of grains to meet the shortfall as well as replenish buffer stocks this year.

One million tonnes of wheat would be imported by the private sector, 2m tonnes by the TCP and 1m tonnes through government-to-government (G2G) arrangements, Mr Iqbal explained.

According to him, the grain is not being imported immediately; rather the TCP will wait until rates in the world market come down to a reasonable level.

Presently, the wheat rates in international markets for December 2021 trade are hovering around $250 per tonne FOB.

Passco, which meets needs of grain-deficient areas like Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir as well as supplies it to armed forces and projects, if any in the country, has procured around 814,000 tonnes of wheat, almost all from Punjab this year.

Mr Iqbal said its yearly wheat releases on an average amounted to 725,000 tonnes but since KP and the Utility Stores Corporation also began getting the staple food supplies from Passco since last year, the release is touching 1.4m tonnes.

This year, so far, KP has got 50,000 tonnes of wheat from Passco, he added.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2021

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