ISLAMABAD - The country is facing wheat under-sowing situation by at least 1 to 2 million acres that might cause import of more than 1 million tons during the next year, thus depleting foreign reserves which are already insufficient.
Reliable sources told The Nation that the total demand of wheat stands at 26 million tons which needs 22 to 23 million acres wheat sowing. On the contrary, it has been sown only on 21 million acres that can produce 24.5 million tons at the most if the weather conditions remain favourable.
The sources said t in the current situation it appears that 2 million tons wheat will have to be imported during the next year (2014).
Giving details about the demand, they said around 23 million tons of wheat was needed to fulfil the demands of the masses, 1.5m tons for seed and 1m for cattle and poultry feed while over 0.5 million tons of wheat is wasted during storage and handling.
Presently, the wheat price in the international market stands at US $ 300-310 per ton that means at least 300 million dollars will be spent on wheat import during 2014 if only one million tons wheat is needed. In addition, freight charges will also cost a lot.
Last year 0.3 million tons wheat was imported from Russia at a price of US $ 285 per ton. But the Russian feed has no match with the local product and it has to be used by mixing it with local wheat otherwise it is unsuitable for humans and is used in cattle feed.
Earlier, Trading Corporation of Pakistan used to import wheat. Presently, private importers are allowed to import wheat, if needed. Import through TCP involved kickbacks that forced the government to allow private importers to import the product on their own.
Besides affecting foreign reserves, wheat shortage will make the lives of the masses miserable across the country in terms of inflationary prices of wheat flour that has already crossed all previous limits and is being sold at Rs 50 per kilogram. Pakistan has already been declared a food insecure country and the present situation will add much to the aforementioned status given to it.