ISLAMABAD/LAHORE - Minister for National Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtyar on Thursday was informed that as many as 1,162 wheat purchase centers have been established across the country to facilitate growers for selling their products on official fixed rates. Khusro Bakhtyar chaired a meeting via video link regarding arrangements made for the procurement of wheat. The meeting was also attended by the Federal Secretary NFS&R, provincial ministers for Agriculture of Punjab & KP, Managing Director PASSCO and secretaries of food departments of Punjab, Sindh and KP. It was told that wheat procurement target of PASSCO was set at 1.8 million tonnes.
The procurement for Punjab was fixed at 4.5 million tons, Sindh 1.4 million tons, Balochistan 1 million tons and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 0.45 million. The minimum support price (MSP) was approved at Rs 1400/- per 40 kg. All the participants of the meeting showed consensus that procurement of wheat by feed millers, non players like rice mills and ginners should be disallowed. The federal minister directed to devise daily or weekly monitoring procedure to evaluate procurement targets. He also suggested to follow directions given by ECC related to intra-provincial agreements defining the quantity and price of the wheat crop so that sharing of cost by all the provinces should be rationalized.
The minister said that there is sufficient supply of wheat and flour in the country and government is also going to procure heavily in this season. He further stated that there is no need to panic as satisfactory reports have been given by respected food ministers and representatives of food departments regarding supply of flour and wheat in all provinces. It was further informed that Punjab and Sindh will start public procurement from March 25 subject to weather conditions. The procurement is to be done on first come first serve principle.
It was decided to conduct another meeting in the 1st week of April to review arrangements made by all provinces, to assure their procurement position. It was also suggested to restrict intra district movement of wheat crop and to ban private sector from procurement until the public sector procurement.
Meanwhile, Minister for Food Samiullah Chaudhry on Thursday chaired a meeting to review Wheat Procurement Policy 2020-21 and launching of wheat procurement in the province from March 25. Secretary Food Waqas Ali Mehmood, Director General Agriculture Dr Muhammad Anjum Ali, Director Food Wajid Ali Shah and Director Special Branch Dr Muhammad Ramzan attended the meeting. Deputy Commissioners and District Food Controllers from across the province attended the meeting through video link. Samiullah Chaudhry directed launching campaign against wheat hoarders. Punjab government will adopt zero-tolerance against hoarders and vigorous crackdown will be taken against them, he resolved. Fixing the rate of wheat at Rs1400 per mound should not cause any negative effect on the price of flour.
He said that government has fixed wheat procurement target of 4.5 million metric ton during current year. Punjab government has set such a big target for the first time and its attainment could only be possible by adopting proactive policy, he concluded.
Earlier, Wajid Ali Shah apprised the meeting about the salient features of wheat procurement policy and gave a detailed briefing about matters pertaining to launching of wheat procurement, abolition of Gurdawari condition, ban on rice mills to purchase wheat, permission to flour mills for wheat procurement and deputing duties of provincial ministers to oversee the process. The meeting was also informed about preparation of checklist, amendments recommended in Food Grains Licensing Control Order 1957 and proposed notification in Punjab Food Stuff Control Act 1958.