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Controversy over wheat movement

April 23, 2008

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SAHIWAL, April 22: Local Food Department officials, acting on their own, have imposed an inter-district ban on the transportation of wheat to achieve their wheat procurement targets.

“This is a well-coordinated internal arrangement in Punjab districts to secure the target,” said Muhammad Ibrahim, district food controller.

The ban has, however, irked the certified seed companies, which transport their seed from Sahiwal to their stores in other districts.

Mr Ibrahim confirmed that seed companies were also not exempted from the ban. He accused the companies of lacking proper processing machinery and of hording the yield in their godowns.

"Seed companies transport wheat and not seed,” said Akhtar Hussain, Sahiwal assistant food controller.

Speaking on behalf of 42 certified seed companies, Dr Abdul Hai, deputy director of the Federal Seed Certification Department, called the ban unacceptable to them.

“There should be no ban on inter-district transportation and storage of wheat which is preserved as wheat seed by registered seed companies,” said Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, president of All Seed Companies of Pakistan. Mian Jabbar, a member of All Seed Companies of Pakistan, said the ban would force wheat growers to use sub-standard seeds.

District Coordination Officer (DCO) Muhammad Khan Khichi formed a six-member committee, consisting of the Association of Seed Companies of Pakistan president, the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department deputy director, the district food controller, the district officer of agriculture (extension) and two deputy district officers of revenue, to monitor and examine the storage facilities of private seed companies.

The body will see if the seed companies preserve ‘wheat seeds’ or hoard the yield.