Sufficient wheat stock available, no supply issue: Fakhar Imam

ISLAMABAD, Nov 5 (APP):Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam Friday said due to better management by the federal government, Pakistan had surplus wheat stock and there was no supply issue in the country.

Addressing a press briefing here along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Fakhar Imam said the government had wheat stock of over 5 million tons which was sufficient till next crop.

He said the government had procured 6 million tons of wheat during this season while it had also a carry over stock of 0.7 million ton from last year.

The minister added that this year the government was importing only 1.9 million ton of wheat against import of 3.6 million ton last year.

He said this year too, the government had accorded approval for import of 4 million tons of the commodity but due to sufficient stock the import had been reduced to half.

“Due to better management, the government has saved around $800 million precious foreign exchange in term of reducing import from estimated 4 million tons to only 1.9 millions tons,” he added.

He said the wheat price in Pakistan did not increase to that extent as in the international market where the prices were much higher than in Pakistan.

However, he expressed his disappointment over the Sindh government’s wheat policy which was not releasing wheat in the market due to which the price of wheat and wheat flour in the province was higher by Rs 350 per 20 kg compared to Punjab.

Fakhar Imam maintained that Prime Minister Imran Khan was taking personal interest in development of the agriculture sector which was totally neglected by the previous governments.

The minister added that this year, the country witnessed record production of the three major crops including cotton, rice and sugarcane.

“It is quite easy to say that we have record production in the major crops but in fact, it is the government’s efforts which yielded results,” he said adding that the extra production in cotton would help the country earning around $900 million foreign exchange reserves by exporting 3 million bales.

He said this year rice production remained 8.4 million tons last year while this year it stood at 9.1 million tons and it is estimated that the country would export rice worth of around $2.5 billion compared to $2 billion last year.
Similarly, he said the sugarcane production also went up to 8.7 million tons this year compared to 8.1 million tons last year.

He lamented that due to hoarding and late crushing by the Sindh government, the people were getting sugar at higher prices. He termed these higher prices as artificial saying that the crisis would subside as soon as crushing in Punjab started.

With respect to cotton crop, the minister said that so far 6.2 million bales had already been produced while it was estimated that the total production this year could cross 9 million mark.
He informed that the federal government had decided to fix the support price of wheat at Rs 1950 per 40 kg for the upcoming crop.

“We want to maintain balanced support price keeping in mind the input cost of the farmer and the consumer’s purchase power,” he added.
He said phosphate fertilizer price had surged in the international market but the government had decided to provide Rs 15 billion subsidy to the farmers in this regard.

He said the federal government and the provinces would share the subsidy by 50-50%.
Likewise, the minister added that other crops such as potato, moong pulse, onion, citrus and mango also witnessed record production.

He said in order to increase the exports, the government was also shifting to value addition and in this regard a number of investors from European Union, Brazil and other countries were keen to invest in Pakistan.