THE chief minister of Khyber Pakhtun-khwa (KP) recently announced that his government was ready to pick up wheat produced by Punjab farmers, stressing that KP would not purchase wheat from Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco).

All these words and actions sound more like political grandstanding than anything else. If the idea is to provide wheat to flour mills for grinding, and flour to the people of the province, the KP government simply needs to approach its counterpart in Punjab for facilitation and arrangements.

The province has a share of about 7.5 per cent of the total cultivatable area of the country.

Wheat was grown in the province in last rabi season on about two million acres which produced about 1.3 million tonnes, while the province’s requirement is five million tonnes. This indicates a deficit of about 3.7 million tonnes. Till May 17, the government had purchased 5,393 tonnes of wheat, and the targeted procurement deadline is June 30.

Besides, the stock available with the KP government is about 28,000 tonnes, whereas the monthly requirement is that of 425,000 tonnes. It is no wonder that protest demonstrations are held every year against the non-availability of wheat flour in the province.

The people of KP have voted in favour of the party which is now in the third term of governing the province. They did this so that the government may solve their problems, not to face misery and to hold protests.

It is the people who are supreme, not the chief executive of the province; any province. Our leaders should prioritise the people rather than self-interest.

Ghulam Idris Khan
Ex-Managing Director
Pakistan Oilseed Development Board
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2024

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