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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Wheat Crisis-Who is going to cry this year?

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I do not want to be termed as pessimist writer who are known for spreading pessimism among the masses. But still there are few things that not only worry me but everyone in Pakistan is concerned over these issues including the record wheat crop this year is not being properly taken up by the government. Every year there is a “wheat scandal” captures our breath and whole year a Pandora box of ”sasti roti”, “flour mills mafia” ,“Middle man scams”, “corrupt bureaucracy” “Formers right”, “Private storage”, “exports or import” etc etc

Despite the fact Government announced supporting price of Rs 950 per 40 kg before harvesting of wheat crop comparing with prices of Rs 425 per 40 kg in 2006-07; and last year supporting price was announced for Middle man was Rs 640 per 40 KG. Government announced the supporting price late and ultimate sufferer was farmer.

This year besides increasing supporting price of wheat per 40kg; Punjab Agriculture Department set a target of 17.9 million tons of wheat production this year. However department expects production can hit the figure of 18.3 to 18.5 million tons. A good sign is that encouraged by government’s timely announcement of Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP) of Rs. 950 per 40kg and other facilities the farmers this year (2008 09) have increased the area under wheat cultivation by 16 percent as compared to the last fiscal year. Agriculture Development Commissioner, Qadir Bux Baloch said that

“this year total area under wheat crop cultivation was increased by 16 percent due to early announcement of Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP) up to Rs. 950 per 40kg.”

He added that wheat was sown in a total area of 8.610 million hectares in the year 2008 09 in the country and a wheat target of 25 million tons has been set for the current year. About Sindh and NWFP province, he said that 1.027 million hectares and 0.745 million hectares land, wheat was sown respectively, while in Balochistan .371 million hectares was set for wheat production for the year 2008 09.

Punjab Province has produced a very healthy wheat crop this year due to favorable weather conditions on final stage as estimated by the department’s Crop Reporting Wing. The governmental optimism was based on early sowing, timely rain and extended use of pesticides. Use of pesticides remained exceptionally high at 69 per cent, which has saved the crop from many diseases to bring it to a successful conclusion. Though urea crisis plagued the better part of the season, its final off-take did not show any substantial decrease. The only negative factor during the entire season was the low consumption of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP). But with so many positive factors, this single factor would not make much of the dent. Arif Nadeem, Agriculture Secretary revealed that for the first time 71 per cent crop was sown from Oct 25 to Nov 30 –this time is considered ideal for sowing; He was expected to have positive impact on the yield.

However like government’s several other failed policies; if we believe that wheat crop was exponentially high; this year wheat croppers once more are expected to suffer. According to one of the most known principle of supply and demand; when supply increase demand decreases. Government announced this increased supporting price and expected a heavy crop too; but unfortunately did not plan [intentionally or unintentionally] to manage this crop due to lake of honesty and sincerity towards farmers. Most of the farmers grew wheat in wake of higher profits out of their production; reports disclose that many farmers who used to sow potato or onion have preferred to cultivate wheat. However Private capitalist minded mafia seems to be in action for depriving croppers from their right to have profit once again.

To resolve issues like gunny bags (Baar Dana); Middle man disorders; transportation of wheat to the Markets; Food Department (which is responsible to purchase whole crop from farmers) on being consulted told that problem in attainment of gunny bags (Bar-daana) has been solved by allowing the farmers to bring their own bags furthermore Punjab Government will pay 40/- Rs for each bag. Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif has ensured croppers and farmers that single grain of the wheat would be purchased from them. In a surprised visit to different procurement centers of Bahawalpur and Lodhran he directed the administration to remove the labour charges and to double the duty staff for facilitating the farmers at procurement centers. He also gave his cell number to farmers and said that they can contact him any time in case of any problem. He said on receiving any complaint against official; strict action would be taken against them. As per the instructions of Punjab Chief Minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Food department has kicked off its wheat procurement campaign at its 389 different centres set up for this purpose on April 16, 2009. Punjab has to produce 3.5 Milliom Tons wheat total from Southern belt, central Punjab and rest of the Punjab.

Many large scale growers are satisfied with these announcements but small growers and farmers are still suffering and hot disputes are being noticed in the Mandis and procurements centers. According to sources in Wahari two of the people have been fired from their duties who found to be involved in corruption. Keeping in view the CM who calls himself KHAADim-e-AALA; past track of resolving issues of people in Punjab; small land owners and croppers seemed to be optimist. However where government is to be appreciated it should be but such face saving acts are not going to favor anyone. Lacuna in government planning are preparing ways for Mafias to play their games.

Interestingly Private Wheat buyers have disappeared from the market; Food department who is responsible for procuring whole wheat is facing difficulties. There are authentic evidences available where Farmers are ready to sell their crop on lower rates of 800 to 850/- Rs to those who will store the wheat. In a survey conducted by AgriForum, 10 districts in the southern part where price ranged from Rs860 to Rs890, with no where price touching official Rs950 per 40kg. It looks Government’s delay in buying wheat would help these mafias who are waiting for Market to crash; where wheat price automatically will show a substantial descending order and end in 600-650/- Rs. Furthermore weather conditions; if do not favor the peasants in coming few days; wind storm or rain might damage the crop that is yet to be cut.

In central executive committee meeting of AgriForum it was also disclosed that it was impossible to meet the highly targets set for wheat crop by the government this year while a drop of 75 % in di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), according to them a cut in urea consumption by 16 per cent was also noticed, even potash fertilizer was reduced by 40 per cent, water shortage of 35% and diesel selling at Rs70 per litre, no one knows how the official sources can claim a record crop in the province. ‘The country had set a target of 25 million tons, and Punjab, a producer of 80 per cent of the crop, had to produce over 19 million tons to meet the national target,’ was revealed in meeting. But, Punjab could not go beyond 18 million tons. The country thus faced a shortfall of two million tons as far as its own target was concerned and at least one million tons as far as its national consumption was concerned.

Ruthlessness in Food department is visible when they call these farmers in hurry to sell crop who are forced to sell on low rate. Cultivation is a process and farmers are supposed to prepare lands as soon as possible for next crop of Rice. Once they get free from selling wheat they can prepare land for next crop. However public sector i.e. PASCO and food department are apparently do not seem to be in position to get hold of all the wheat coming into market. Thus farmer is forced to sell his crop on lower rates. Yesterday Punjab government has removed the hurdle of Middle man who will hardly be letting farmer to reach to government.

Most of the farmers are illiterate and can hardly understand the policies thus they are compelled to sell their crop on lower rates. My question here is if government is not buying on lower rates; there must be some Middle man who is buying and storing. Resultantly once Market completely will crash and Farmer would be left with no option to sell his crop of lower rates of 600-650/- Rs; this crop would be purchased by Mafia on lower rates and then notorious Food department will purchase wheat in back dates to benefit Mafia.
My request to all those farmers who are forced to sell their crop on lower rates is; make a call to Chief Minister and disclose this Bureaucratic rip-off. Lets not make Farmers cry this year and make those cry who made Farmers cry.

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Rubab Saleemhttp://www.rubabsaleem.com
Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times
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5 COMMENTS

  1. “My request to all those farmers who are forced to sell their crop on lower rates is; make a call to Chief Minister and disclose this Bureaucratic rip-off. Lets not make Farmers cry this year and make those cry who made Farmers cry.”

    Rubab,

    I have read whole article and want to replicate your pray from myside as well….

    I want to add one thing more… In Gujranwala, Farmer are selling their crop in Rs. 750 Today… No gunny Bags available… and interesting thing … Their is a scam of gunny bag purchase by Food Department…

    “Pakistan Mutahida Kisan Mohaz (PMKM) has alleged that the Punjab food department purchased bardana at very high prices, causing million of rupees loss to the Punjab treasury.

    In an open letter to Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PMKM president Ayub Khan Mayo stated that the Punjab food department had issued a tender for bardana and purchased a bag for Rs 86 instead of 52 and earned a lot of money by purchasing millions of bags.

    He said that the department had purchased polythene bags for Rs 26 instead of Rs 9. He said that both these items were available in Bangladesh Jute mills Karachi on lower prices.

    He also highlighted the major problems faced which the growers face while selling wheat crop.

    In his open latter, he said the produce was more had exceeded the expetations but country might face shortage of wheat because of the wrongdoings of government officials.

    He alleged that all the government officials, from top to bottom, were indulged in corruption.

    He said a large number of people had failed to get any bardana for their crop. He alleged that the department had also issued bardana by showing bogus identity cards.

    He added that the procurement department had refused to issue any bardana to the rest of growers, saying that they had completed their target. He demanded the Chief Minister constitute a committee for the inquiry into the corruption, bringing the culprits to task.

    May Almighty Bless us… this is the only thing which we can say when we are hopeless from this corrupt system……

  2. If such distorted situation continues, the country would continue facing shortages in future. The result would be that farmers would divert wheat areas to other more remunerative crops, deepening wheat shortages.

  3. There has been a lot of hew and cry about wheat crisis in Pakistan now-a-days but nothing seems to be going on for its solution . We all just scratch each other’s back and don’t bother to think for this on-going crisis that how can it be finished and how can everybody gets relief from it . It seems that we are not concerned about how much the prices have soared up well-beyond the reach of the common man and mostly the common man always suffers .
    We are somehow ourselves responsible for this crisis and cannot imagine what annihilation it will bring to our present and coming generations .

    The local growers should get the maximum benefit from their effort for which they spent all their lives in the fields to make our generations flourish and what they get in return for their marvelous effort is the un-imaginable price hike and shortage .

    The self created price hike due to shortage of wheat by the hoarders should be dealt with iron hands for the benefit of the motherland . The local government doing its best to somehow minimize the pain which the ordinary people is facing right now .
    On the other hand the greedy group trying their best to falter the government’s effort .
    Government buy the wheat from the farmers and pay them handsomely but then again when the farmers need it again to grow they have to ask the hoarders because the government does not have so much stock to fulfill all their demands so the hoarders sell at the sky high prices and then the farmers suffers .
    Due to the hoarders , they stock most of the wheat for their own good and for the rest they sell at the high prices and simultaneously they smuggle it to Afghanistan , where the price of the wheat bag is above 3000 approximately . But in Pakistan the same bag is of 950 Rs.

    Due to hoarding and smuggling this crisis is growing day by day and making the lives of people more miserable . Government should take every effort to make this genie grow low and give relief to everyone .

    If this is not done then the whole country will suffer and many other menaces will appear due to this and then the common man will cry more for their survival .

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