FPCCI urges govt action on wheat prices

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LAHORE:

The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Standing Committee on Agriculture has expressed dissatisfaction with the ongoing wheat crisis in Punjab. Farmers are being forced to sell their crops at throwaway prices, contrary to the vision of Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

FPCCI Panel Chief on Agriculture, Ahmad Jawad, stated that wheat farmers are facing dire circumstances as wheat prices in Punjab have plummeted below Rs3,000 per maund (approximately 40 kilograms) due to the provincial government’s failure to initiate its procurement campaign. This situation has caused significant distress among farmers and may lead to a decline in wheat production in the province next year. Jawad noted, “Over a billion rupees are held by middlemen instead of reaching the farming community.”

Despite a record harvest this year, the Punjab government’s “poor strategy” for wheat procurement has halted the process, leaving farmers with limited options. Although the government set a support price of Rs3,900 per maund, the absence of official buying has resulted in market prices dropping to Rs2,900.

FPCCI officials also highlighted that the government had changed the procedure for applying to sell wheat to the provincial food department. In the past, growers were required to submit written applications to procure gunny bags for packing and transporting wheat to procurement centres. However, this time, the government introduced a mobile application for the purpose, disregarding the fact that a majority of the rural population lacks technological proficiency. Despite this, over 400,000 growers applied for gunny bags, with their status still pending. Moreover, district food departments across the province have effectively ceased wheat procurement.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2024.

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