LAHORE: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema on Saturday cautioned consumers that prices of food items will continue following their upward trajectory until April next year and one must not expect any cut in the prices during this period.
Addressing a press conference, he linked local food inflation to a global phenomenon. The government is focused on enhancing local agriculture productivity to control the trend of price hike, he added.
He claimed that except ghee and sugar all other food items in the region were cheaper as compared to world prices. He said edible oil price in the world market is $1,200 per tonne and the government had to withdraw certain levies to reduce its price in the local market by Rs50 per kg.
Hopes grain production this season will go up by 16pc
He hoped that grain production this season would go up by 16 per cent to achieve the 28.9 million tonne output target set for 2021-22.
He said the government was also making efforts to increase corn yield to 25m tonnes and sugarcane production was expected to touch 100m tonne mark this year. The sugar mills, he said, would produce 9.0m tonnes sweetener, 3m tonnes over and above the local consumption. He claimed that sugar prices would go down in the coming days as the government would provide sugar to 1,500 registered dealers for sale at Rs90 per kg.
He said the warnings and threats being hurled by flour millers were beyond comprehension as they were already earning a profit of Rs175 per 20kg bag.
Mr Cheema said that retailers arrested for overcharging must not be presented as victims.
On the occasion, he said the government would provide low-cost certified wheat seed to one million farmers and would offer them a subsidy worth Rs24 billion on pesticides. A project for local production of various kitchen items – from black pepper to tea – would be soon introduced, the SAPM added.
Mr Cheema disclosed that two international firms were engaged in the crop insurance business and any farmer failing to get at least 70pc yield would be compensated through insurance. Four districts – Pakpattan, Gujranwala, Hafizabad and Sheikhupura – have been selected for a pilot project for the purpose, he added.
Mr Cheema said that under the Kamyab Kissan scheme, a farmer holding less than 12 acres of land would get interest-free loan of Rs150,000 per year, besides Rs200,000 for purchasing farm machinery. Likewise, a sum of Rs0.5m would be offered as interest-free loan to livestock farmers.
The SAPM said that complaint cells had been set up at various levels where at least 123 officials are available to help resolve issues.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2021