PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Flour Mills Association Provincial Chairman Haji Iqbal on Tuesday said that KP currently faces a wheat shortfall of 2 million tonnes compared to its annual requirement of 4.6 million tonnes.
He said that the crisis has arisen since the provincial government did not procure wheat on time.
He further said that flour mills in the province had earlier gone on a strike after wheat was not supplied to them. However, he informed that the government on Tuesday, accepted the demands of the flour mills after which they called off the strike.
He informed that for the next eight months, KP’s wheat requirements stand at 2.3 million tonnes, out of which 1.3 million tonnes will be purchased from Punjab while the remaining will have to be procured by the province.
Haji Iqbal said that the wheat shortage in KP arose due to the price differential of wheat in Punjab and KP. He said the price of wheat in Punjab was fixed at Rs3,500 per sack while the price in KP stood at Rs3,900 per sack after which farmers in Punjab started hoarding wheat.
Meanwhile, During the session of KP provincial assembly on Tuesday, Speaker Mushtaq Ghani while expressing concern over the increase in wheat and flour prices in the province said that the chief secretary has lost control over the deputy commissioners and has been unable to keep prices of essential commodities under control.
He urged for strict action to be taken against shop-keepers and traders who are selling food items at inflated rates. “Shopkeepers selling expensive food items should be arrested and the concerned deputy commissioners should be suspended,” he said.
On the other hand, KP food minister Qalandar Khan Lodhi once again rejected any shortfall of wheat in the province and said that at present the provincial food department has 145,000 metric tonnes of wheat in store and the province’s flour mills are being supplied 2,000 metric tonnes of wheat on a daily basis. He further said that the delivery of 100,000 metric tonnes of wheat from Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) is also underway.
He said that an agreement has also been signed with PASSCO for another 300,000 metric tonnes of wheat and that a plan is being worked out to import an additional 300,000 metric tonnes of wheat.
“At present, there is sufficient supply of flour in the province while the supply of flour from Punjab has also started. A 20 kilogramme bag of flour is being sold at Rs860 throughout the province,” Lodhi claimed.