ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has commended the endeavors of the provinces especially Punjab and Sindh to achieve wheat production target in the country. He has assured the farmers that procurement operation would continue till their surplus wheat is exhausted. The Prime Minister said Pakistan has achieved a bumper wheat crop this year and estimates are that target of 24 million tons of wheat will be achieved which is at least a million tons more than the local requirements.
Procurement target of 6.5 million tons of wheat fixed for the country during this year has been surpassed and for the facility of the farmers, the federal and provincial governments are continuing procurement of wheat over and above the target, he informed.
Punjab has procured four million tons, Sindh has acquired 1.1 million tons and PASSCO has purchased 1.4 million tons and the procured wheat will be used for strategic and operational reserves, he observed. He said the government wants to deliver maximum benefits to farmers and the efforts to bring improvement in their standard of living is in line with the party’s vision of providing “roti, kapra and makan” to all.
He said a breakthrough in wheat production has been made possible by a number of policy interventions by the government and foremost among them is the increase in the guaranteed minimum price from Rs. 625 to Rs. 950 per 40 kg fixed by the government well before the sowing season of wheat.
The government spent more than Rs. 52 billion on the procurement of 6.5 million tonnes of wheat and it will be saving much more than this amount by eliminating imports of the commodity this year, he remarked. The government also gave a massive subsidy of Rs. 27 billion in the supply of urea and DAP fertilizer, he said adding the government made elaborate arrangements to import fertilizer to make up its deficiency.
Off take of urea fertilizer this year is more than the last year although off take of DAP was less due to higher prices in the international market, the Prime Minister added. He told that the government was taking steps to reduce dependence on imported fertilizers by enhancing local production capacity.
The Prime Minister said the breakthrough in wheat production in Pakistan would ensure food security in the region and this has been rightly acclaimed internationally. He pointed out that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has publically appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to overcome food shortage in the country.
The Prime Minister said the government has issued credit lines of more than Rs. 180 billion to provinces and PASSCO to procure wheat at guaranteed minimum price announced by the government. These limits are being extended suitably to carry on the wheat procurement operations beyond the target of 6.5 million tonnes which has already been surpassed, he added.
The wheat procurement is a massive program which will generate an income of about 250 million for the farming community of the country and bring about prosperity in the rural economy. He said the higher production of wheat will save massive amount of foreign exchange used on wheat imports as the government spent more than US$ two billion on the imports of wheat during the last two years. With enhanced support of wheat price, the government will gradually reduce subsidy on fertilizer, he added.-APP