The Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research in its meeting on Thursday at Parliament House discussed in detail the wheat crisis and those responsible for it. It also deliberated over issues related to hoarding and smuggling of wheat in the country.
Chaired by Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah, the meeting was attended by Senator Najma Hameed, Senator Sajjad Husssain Turi, and senior officers from the Ministry for National Food Security and Research, PASSCO, Provincial Food Departments along with all concerned. Members of the Flour Mill Association of Pakistan also attended the meeting.
Asim Raza, Chairman Flour Mills Association informed the Committee there was no shortage of wheat in the country. However, certain factors contributed towards it. He asserted that a huge quantity of marketable wheat was consumed by Feed Mills. He also asserted that management flaws of wheat have been another issue that has contributed towards this. He urged the Committee, to ensure a way to procure wheat directly from PASSCO. Muhammad Naeem Butt, Head of the Association’s KPK wing was of the view that with a total consumption of 46 lac tons just 12 lac tons are being provided to KPK. This has led to the procurement of wheat from private markets that have increased costs. Punjab and Sindh, despite directions did not provide wheat to KPK. The major reasons stated for the wheat crisis were deemed mismanagement of releases. It was asserted that in order to ensure such a situation does not occur again wheat atleast, worth the need of 50 percent of the population must be stored.
Chairman Committee, Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah stressed the need for formulating SOPs for major crops in Pakistan. He asserted that minimum support price for these crops must be determined as well. In addition to this the Committee was of the view that provincial governments must procure wheat at the right time. Delays must be avoided at all costs. Abadgaars and growers must be facilitated; subsidy must be given to them. Subsidy must be given to farmers. This is important due to low yield and high production costs. A minimum support price must be determined.