ISLAMABAD: The federal government has set the wheat procurement target for the 2016 season at 6.95 million tons against the target of 6.6 million tons in the previous year.
In a recent meeting held with the stakeholders concerned, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research decided to purchase 6.95 million tons of wheat from the farmers in the new harvesting season to meet domestic consumption requirements, say officials.
Of the total target, the Punjab government would buy 4.5 million tons, Sindh will purchase 1 million tons, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 0.35 million tons, Balochistan 0.10 million tons and Pakistan Agriculture Services and Supplies Corporation (Passco) 1 million tons.
According to government statistics, the country has 5.426 million tons of wheat stocks available, of which 3.101 million tons are in Punjab, 0.627 million tons in Sindh, 0.198 million tons in K-P, 0.135 million tons in Balochistan and 1.365 million tons with Passco for meeting contingency needs and as strategic reserves, besides supplying to the army, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“The government has sufficient surplus wheat stock and it is also likely to achieve this year’s production target of 26 million tons,” said an official of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
“The production target is achievable due to three reasons – firstly, weather conditions are much favourable, which will help us achieve a bumper crop again. Secondly, there is subsidised di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser for the farmers and lastly the crop pattern adopted by the farmers has been instrumental in achieving the high production target,” he explained.
Previously, the farmers used to follow the ‘broadcasting’ method for sowing but now they have adopted the ‘line sowing’ or ‘drilling’ method.
“Though we expect to harvest a bumper crop again, the government and farmers are concerned about the surplus stock carried from the previous year, which has not been disposed of yet,” he added.
The government has failed to achieve the export target of 1.2 million tons despite offering an attractive subsidy.
Recently, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research also asked the Foreign Office to look into the possibility of inking agreements with Gulf countries for the export of high-quality wheat in exchange for cash or kind.
However, the proposal is still at the initial stage and the Foreign Office is expected to pursue the matter through the country’s trade missions in these countries. “If the proposal is pressed on seriously, we will be able to resolve the issue of surplus wheat for good,” the official remarked.
Source: The Express Tribune