Center is considering uniform wheat support price for all provinces

ISLAMABAD: As disputes escalate between the federal and Sindh governments over fixing the minimum support price for wheat for the current rabi season, National Food Security and Research Minister Syed Fakhar Imam has announced that the government will find a constitutional way to set a is considering. Uniform price for all provinces.

The constitutional solution would prevent provinces from fixing support prices separately from the federal government, Mr Imam said at a press conference with Industries and Production Minister Khusro Bakhtiar here on Thursday.

While the Center has fixed the support price of wheat at Rs 1,950 per 40 kg, Sindh has fixed it at Rs 2,200.

The food minister termed the provincial government’s decision as “non-serious” and “anti-people”. He said that before announcing the Minimum Wheat Support Price for 2021-22, the federal government had asked the Sindh government to submit its proposal, but the latter ignored the former’s request and announced the support price which was more than that. of the federal government.

He said that the decision of the Sindh government has created a distortion and tantamounts to hoarding and profiteering.

Defending the federal government’s decision, Fakhar Imam said the support price of wheat at Rs 1,950 would help in maintaining a balance between the purchasing power of the consumers and the input cost of the farmers.

He said that the support price announced by the Sindh government last year has increased the rate of wheat flour in the state, and it is much higher than in Punjab. He said that the people of Sindh are suffering due to the wrong policies of the provincial government and are forced to buy unreasonably expensive wheat flour.

The minister said this year the government imported wheat in much lesser quantity than the target, which helped in saving precious foreign exchange of over $800 million. He said that there is no shortage of wheat in the country and the government has sufficient stock of the commodity till the first week of June next year, at a time when the harvesting of the new wheat crop will be in full swing in Punjab.

The government has so far 5.3 million tonnes of wheat in stock and imports of 1.3 million tonnes are on, taking the total stock to over 6.6 million tonnes, he said, adding that the government is releasing 40,000 tonnes of wheat. on daily basis.

Khusro Bakhtiar criticized the Sindh government for deciding on the wheat support price, which was not in line with the federal government, and said the province had become a safe haven for hoarders and profiteers.

Regarding the fertilizer situation, he alleged that a huge stock of urea fertilizer was transported to Sindh from the rest of the country for hoarding. He said that the government is taking action against the dealers who hoard in Punjab, but the Sindh government is silent, due to which the hoarders are taking the stock of manure to Sindh.

livestock census

National Food Security and Research Minister Fakhar Imam has called for a fresh livestock census in the country to get accurate data to develop an effective strategy to boost the livestock sector.

It may be mentioned that there is a clear distinction between the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), a federal unit, and the Punjab Livestock Department on the number of large animals in the province. PBS claims it is eight million, while the provincial department puts the figure at five million.

Speaking at a symposium organized by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Thursday, the minister lamented that only seven to eight per cent of the milk produced in the country is being processed, while it also lags far behind in cattle breeding. and called for long, medium and short term strategies to improve the situation.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq, Punjab Prosecution Minister Chaudhary Zaheer-ud-Din, Former Livestock Minister Asif Saeed Manais and Livestock Secretary Naveed Haider Sheraji also addressed the seminar.

Amjad Mahmud in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 26, 2021