PESHAWAR, Aug 7: The World Food Programme has sold a huge quantity of decomposed wheat, stored in its two warehouses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to a Karachi-based private party, sources say.

The last year’s devastating floods had submerged three warehouses of the UN body in Peshawar and Nowshera districts at Nasir Bagh, Pirpai and Azakhel that caused substantial damage to the wheat stock. The agency also stores wheat and other supplies meant for Afghanistan in the warehouses.

According to sources, approximately 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat, flour and other food items were destroyed in these warehouses. Only in Pirpai warehouse, about 25,000 metric tonnes of wheat owned by WFP and Unicef had been damaged.

The stock dumped at these warehouses was supposed to be distributed among the internally displaced persons of Malakand and tribal areas, who fled their homes as a result of insurgency and subsequent military operations against militants.The WFP officials said that the decamped stock, declared unfit for consumption of human beings and animals, was sold to a private party in North Karachi, M/S Asad Enterprises Private Limited.

The UN agency, when approached, clarified in a statement that WFP followed its regular procedures in the disposal of the food in full cooperation with their legal department. The contract of sale indicated very clearly that it was sold “as is where is”, with all faults and imperfections of every nature, at the time of acceptance of the offer, it said.

It was also explicitly stated in the contract the food would be used for consumption of neither humans nor animals, but would be used exclusively as fertiliser or burning material.

“The WFP has a duty to our donors to salvage any value possible when food has been damaged -- sales such as this allow us to buy more food to provide to the hungry poor who require our assistance,” the statement added.

But WFP officials declined to provide specific information about the deal including quantity of the damaged wheat, cost and contact of the private party with whom the agreement was signed.

The Islamabad-based spokesperson for the UN body, Amjad Jamal, told this correspondent that WFP headquarters in Rome had approved the deal. He said that he had not been provided other details.

However, information gathered by Dawn narrates a different story. Sources said that the decomposed wheat stock was being shifted to Karachi where it would be reprocessed for poultry feed.

Sources said that the party had paid Rs10 million for the damaged stock at Pirpai, one of the largest storage facilities of the WFP in Pakistan.

Interestingly two companies with the name of Asad enterprises in Karachi denied any deal with the WFP and said they had nothing to do with the purchase of wheat.

One group with the name of Asad Enterprises is dealing in the business of towels, bathrobes and allied products and another is running pharmaceutical distribution business in Karachi. An expert in fertilisers was of the view that wheat could not be reprocessed as inorganic fertilisers.

The veterinarians at Directorate of Livestock, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said that reprocessing of decomposed wheat or other grains as poultry feed was harmful for the poultry unless mycotoxin level was checked in laboratory. Such a chicken, when consumed, would also prove harmful to humans, they said.

Dr Noor Mohammad, a senior veterinarian, said that poultry was very sensitive after human beings and unchecked feed could affect its production. He said that anti-toxin was mixed with decomposed grains before converting it into poultry and cattle feed.

The directorate has well equipped centre of animal nutrition in Peshawar where samples of decomposed grains was processed for checking level of mycotoxin. Officials said that anti-toxin was mixed with the decomposed grains if samples were found fit for poultry and big animal consumption.

“Usually UN agencies and other organisations send samples of expired and decomposed grains to the centre for checking level of mycotoxin,” said an official at the centre.

He said that WFP often donated expired wheat and other grains to the directorate for cattle feed. “Recently, the directorate has not received any donation of wheat for cattle consumption or for laboratory examination,” he said.