KARACHI: Wheat and flour crisis has deepened in Sindh as millers have jacked up prices of all flour varieties citing suspension in arrival of wheat from the province’s growing areas to Karachi.
Millers have increased the price of flour no. 2.5 to Rs78 per kg from last week’s Rs69 followed by fine and maida flour to Rs81 from Rs72 per kg. The 10kg bag is now selling at Rs785 against Rs695 per bag.
A few days back, the millers had raised the prices by Rs2 per kg.
Millers quoted the price of 100kg wheat bag at Rs7,200 in the open market against Rs6,400 few days back. On Wednesday, the Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA), Sindh Zone, said the Sindh Food Department has set up check-posts in the interior Sindh to restrict free movement of wheat to Karachi.
Millers jack up atta no.2.5 rate to Rs78 a kg
The PFMA claimed closure of 30 per cent mills in the province due to non-availability of wheat while more mills would shut down their operations if they fail to get the grain.
Holding the government responsible for the crisis, the association asked the department concerned to ensure wheat availability to the millers in the next three days otherwise they would chalk out their future strategy.
PFMA Central Chairman Chaudhry Mohammad Yousuf had informed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that the provincial governments had imposed restrictions on inter-provincial movement of wheat and flour which is against the open market mechanism.
As a result, the wheat and flour prices in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa had reached the highest peak. He said the constitution of Pakistan provides equal trade opportunities and allows free movement of goods throughout the country without any restriction.
KP and Balochistan are wheat deficit areas and mills in these two provinces rely on supplies from Punjab and Sindh to meet daily grinding requirements.
Wheat products are also transported from Punjab and Sindh to KP and Balochistan to make up the market deficit. This mechanism always proves helpful in maintaining wheat and flour prices in the entire country, Mr Yousaf said.
He urged the prime minister to allow free movement of wheat and wheat products to ensure availability of the basic food item at reasonable price across the country.
He said that even the provincial governments impose certain restrictions on the wheat purchase in the harvesting season which create difficulties for the mills in meeting their daily grinding requirements and the supply chain of wheat products ultimately disturbed and lead to price hike.
Flour mills also purchase wheat from the open market along with government agencies. There should be no ban on purchase of wheat by the millers.
General Secretary Karachi Retail Grocers Association (KRGA) Farid Qureshi said the chakki flour rate is now selling at Rs90 against Rs85 per kg a few days back despite arrival of new crop.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2022