Wheat exports and local prices
Fruits of a bumper crop not reaching to people
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Sep 11 - 17, 2000
It is heartening to know that Pakistan has produced
a bumper wheat crop, which is being assessed somewhere between 22-23
million tonnes. One also take pride that instead of meeting the local
requirements of wheat through imports, Pakistan is now in a position
to earn foreign exchange by exporting the locally produced wheat
because of good decisions and better management of the economic
managers. The prospects for next wheat crop are also said to be bright
hopefully enabling the country to have a sizeable export surplus.
It is however a matter of concern that the positive
effects of bumper wheat crop are not reflected in the kitchen
expenditures of the common man. The price of wheat of different
qualities ranging between Rs880-890 in the wholesale market while a
bag of 10 kg is being sold at Rs120 in retail.
Although people generally agree to the efforts
taken by the government for economic revival by putting the house in
order. But the steps, which are putting the house of the poor and the
working class in disorder by ever-increasing prices of essential
items, have created feelings of dissatisfaction. A cross section of
people while talking to PAGE said that increase in the prices
of essential items such as POL products, electricity, gas, telephone,
transportation, school feels altogether have made the life miserable.
The tax survey and distribution of forms in streets and bazaars have
adversely affected economic activity at micro level. In order to
off-set the panic effects at middle and lower level, the government
should at least educate the people that survey is not going to harm
the genuine transactions in any segment of the economy. It is a must
for creating a sense of confidence in the people.
The present government has "National Food
Support Programme" with a commitment to revive national economy,
ensure good governance, more harmony among the provinces and to
establish a better and effective political system so as to help
improve the lot of masses and enable them to work for their own
The food support programme basically aimed at
redressing the food problems of the poor living below poverty line for
which a considerable amount of funds have also been allocated
It is a welcome step on the part of the economic
managers. Beside supporting the poor living below poverty line the
policies should also take care that more people of middle and working
class may not be forced to fall in that bracket of below poverty line
due to trend of sharp increase in prices of essential items.
Wheat is a food commodity of perennial importance
for every home in Pakistan. A strong agriculture base plus good
economic decisions has successfully proved that Pakistan has great
potentials to not only become self-sufficient in wheat production but
has the capability to produce export surplus. Hopefully this status
would be achieved, however in order to make our own homes happy, first
priority of a good crop should be to maintain affordable prices at
home than going for foreign exchange earnings.
The Federal government has decided to export
200,000 tonnes of wheat and has invited bids from interested parties.
The federal government has already sold one million tonnes of wheat to
two private parties for its onward export to Afghanistan to ease food
pressure in that country.
Some flour millers feel that the government is
putting great emphasis on value addition culture in the industry to
get optimum level of export potentials. Wheat is a commodity where
Pakistan can earn much more by exporting flour bags instead of going
for wheat exports. They feel that there is a large market for wheat
flour in Afghanistan and Central Asian States. Pakistan has a strong
industrial base for wheat grinding in flour mills. The Export
Promotion Bureau can take steps to avail this opportunity.
Pakistan Storage and Supply Corporation (Passco)
had invited bids for wheat export purpose. Passco had also fixed the
sale price of wheat for export at Rs9000 per tonne. The official said
that Passco had also pointed out that interested parties might present
their offers along with five per cent of the value of the tendered
quantity as performance bond.
The decision to export additional 200,000 tonnes of
wheat had been taken after the confirmation of final wheat production
figures. After the bumper wheat crop this year Passco had procured the
commodity more than the fixed target. After assessing the needs of the
country it had been decided that more wheat would be offered for sale.
After countrywide research and inspection it has
been assessed that wheat production would touch 23 million tonnes. The
figure of 22,152 million tonnes is conservative estimate and
contradicts the claims of the provinces about wheat production in
their respective provinces.
Experts in agriculture sector feel that government
has procured 8.5 million tonnes of wheat this year which was another
indication that wheat production was close to 23 million tonnes if not