Imam reaffirms Govt commitment to provide food commodities on affordable prices

APP88-26 ISLAMABAD: August 26 - Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research and Senator Shibli Faraz, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting addressing a press conference. APP

ISLAMABAD, Aug 26 (APP): Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Iman on Wednesday reiterated the government’s resolve to ensure adequate supply of essential food commodities, particularly wheat and flour, on affordable prices to common man across the country.

Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz, the minister said wheat and flour crisis was created with its hoarding for speculative purpose.

For the first time, there had been a differential between local minimum support price and and international wheat prices, which provided space for its hoarding for speculative demand, he said adding the hoarders got full benefit which spiked its local prices form Rs 1400 to Rs1800 per 40 kg.

In order to discourage the malpractices like cartelization and hoarding as well as to ensure smooth supply of flour in domestic markets, the government had decided to import wheat and the first shipment, carrying about 63,000 metric tons of wheat, had arrived the Karachi Port,he said. About 130,000 tons would arrive soon, which would help in bringing down the
speculative demand and stabilize the prices of the commodity in the local markets, he added.

The minister further informed that 8 shipments, carrying about 488,000 tons of wheat would arrive by end of next month, adding the government had also allowed the private sector to import the grains through Trading Corporation of Pakistan in order to strengthen the local wheat stocks as well as discouraging the practices of hoarding and the profiteering.

Fakhar Imam said that Punjab had procured over 4.1 million tons of wheat and it had also started subsidized supply to local flour mills that had brought stability in local markets, adding as imported reached local markets, the prices would further come down.

“I had also written to the Chief Minister Sindh to announce wheat release policy that would ultimately benefit the people of the province,” he said adding their release policy was still
awaited.

The minister said that government was formulating strategic policy frame-work, based on medium, short and long term period for enhancing the output of all major crops and to avoid any crisis-like situation.

He said that wheat had been cultivated over 20 million hectares and it required about
1.1 million tons of seeds, adding the government had decided to allocate 400,000 tons
from the reserves of PACCO and federal seed agency for this purpose.

The initiative would help enhance local crop output by 5-10 percent, he said adding same initiative would also be introduced for cotton crop by providing 30 thousand tons seeds to
achieve better returns and improve the living standards of farmers.

Besides, he said that government was also working to remove structural imbalances with the help of China by improving the research, adding that it was also working to enhance production of oil seeds and value addition of fruits and vegetables.

Fakhar Imam said that government was also determined to providing all possible facilitation to exporters for enhancing the local exports of agriculture products, adding freight charges for mangoes were reduced, which resulted in increase of local mangoes that reached to 140,000 tons during current season.

Replying to a question, he said that action against hoarders was the responsibility of provincial governments, adding the federal government as a policy maker, would also play its role to take action against those involved in malpractices.

To another question, the minister admitted the fact that there was dearth of human resources in Ministry of National Food Security and Research and said that it would be redressed by inducting skilled human workforce that would be productive.

He appreciated the joint efforts of teams, formed to combat desert locust and said that the threats from the Horn of Africa was minimized due to rains, however he said that control
operation was still in progress to completely eliminate the pest from the country.