Wheat shortage in KP surges to two million tonnes

Shopkeepers selling expensive food items should be jailed, and the concerned deputy commissioners should be suspend,

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The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Flour Mills Association Provincial Chairman, Haji Iqbal, has said that KPK currently faces a wheat shortfall of 2 million tonnes compared to its annual requirement of 4.6 million tonnes.

He said that the crisis has arisen since the provincial government did not procure wheat on time.
He further said that flour mills in KPK had previously gone on a strike after wheat was not supplied.

However, he informed the authorities that the government on Tuesday accepted the flour mills’ demands, after which they called off the strike.

He informed that for the next eight months, KPK’s wheat requirements stand at 2.3 million tonnes, out of which 1.3 million tonnes will be purchased from Punjab while the rest will have to be procured.

Haji Iqbal said that the wheat shortage in KPK arose due to the price differential of wheat in Punjab and KPK. He said the price of wheat in Punjab was fixed at Rs3,500 per sack, while the KPK rate stood at Rs3,900 per bag, after which farmers in Punjab started hoarding grain.

A man carries sacks of flour on his shoulder, while others stand in a queue to purchase from a truck along a road in Peshawar. (REUTERS)

Meanwhile, During the KPK provincial assembly session on Tuesday, Speaker Mushtaq Ghani, while expressing concern over the surge in flour and wheat prices in the province, said that the chief secretary has lost control over the deputy commissioners and has been unable to keep costs of essential commodities under control.

He urged for strict action against shopkeepers and traders who are selling food items at inflated rates. “Shopkeepers selling expensive food items should be jailed, and the concerned deputy commissioners should be suspended,” he said.

On the other hand, The KPK food minister Qalandar Khan Lodhi once again rejected any shortfall of wheat in the province and said that the provincial food department has 145,000 metric tonnes of wheat in-store and the province’s flour mills are being supplied 2,000 metric tonnes of wheat daily.

He further said the delivery of 100,000 metric tonnes of wheat from Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) is also underway.

Lodhi said that an agreement has also been signed with PASSCO for another 300,000 metric tonnes of wheat and that a plan is being worked out to import an additional 300,000 metric tonnes of grain.
“At present, there is a sufficient supply of flour in the province while the supply of flour from Punjab has also started. A 20 kg bag of flour is being sold at Rs860 throughout the province,” Lodhi claimed.

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