Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation
(PASSCO) has officially informed to Tradesman International, the
importing company of Australian wheat, that it upholds the decision
about rejection of the imported Australian wheat after finding it unfit
for human consumption.
Consequently, the tenders floated for purchase of
0.150 million ton of wheat stand cancelled. The tenders were won by
Tradesman International, a Pakistani company for the import of wheat
from an Australian firm which had offered the second lowest rates in
response to the tenders. The lowest rates were offered by an Indian firm
which was also rejected on good grounds.
The decision to reject the infected wheat was made on
the finding of kernel bunt in test report. The tests of the Australian
wheat standing at Karachi port for clearance were carried out at the
National Agriculture Research Council (NARC) Laboratories, which
confirmed presence of kernel bunt as well as less percentage of gluten.
Earlier, the similar tests were also conducted by PCSIR. All parties
involved in this trade were bound to accept the results of the tests as
terms and conditions of the tender. Earlier, the Federal Cabinet had
also rejected the injected wheat and had asked the PASSCO to ensure
compliance of all the contractual obligations between the two parties.
It is learnt that the Union Bank had already made the
payments worth $34 million or Rs1.6 billion for the purchase of the
wheat as the importer had opened LC with Union Bank. Since the tenders
now stand cancelled, it is yet to be seen the mechanism for refund of
the amount paid by the bank.
Amazingly, it is the second incident in which the
food stuff from Australia has been rejected by Pakistan authorities on
health grounds. Earlier, a vessel carrying Australian sheep suffering
from some deadly disease were also rejected by Pakistan authorities. In
fact, it is a matter of serious concern because dispatch of food stuff
which is unfit for human consumption especially by a developed country
like Australia is something serious as well as funny. It amounts to
trifle with the human lives only for a few bucks which are a clear cut
violation of the health rules. It is the time that the WHO which
supervises the health concerns of the globe should take a note of such
incidents seriously to avoid recurrence of such health hazardous trade
deals on the part of the exporters. These countries responsible for
sending infected food stuff should be made clear that Pakistan was a not
a dumping ground for damaged food stuff.
The authorities who checked the diseased food stuff
and put their foot down against the clearance of the damaged wheat
deserve recognition by the people; a dishonest move in this respect
could have easily allowed the rejected wheat to penetrate into the local
market. We must recognize the honesty of those officials, especially in
an environment of rampant corruption in this country. The exporters of
the affected food stuff may have in their mind that it may not be
difficult to get clearance of the damaged food grains by pleasing the
corrupt at the port.
One may recall that some European Countries had put a
ban on import of sea food from Pakistan only on the basis of
unsatisfactory packaging facilities at the fisheries. Japan and the
United States continued to put a ban on import of mangoes from Pakistan
because of unsatisfactory arrangements against alleged fruit flies in
Pakistan. Although Pakistani mangoes are much popular the world over and
have find a respectable place in the world market, some of the developed
countries are stick to the imposition of ban on the import of mangoes
There is a time for the authorities in Pakistan to
raise question about the dispatch of unhealthy food stuff into Pakistan
to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future as well.
It is worth mentioning here that the flour prices
which had shot up to the level of Rs18 per kg had started to subside
with the arrival of the fresh crop in the market. However, there is a
mad rush for lifting of the wheat of the new crop by the profiteers to
take maximum benefits of crisis. The flour mills are lifting the wheat
from the market at a price of Rs400 per 40 kg against the procure price
of Rs350 per 40 kg fixed by the government.
According to an estimate, even after the normalcy
returns, the flour price may increase at least by 17 percent because of
the raise of Rs50 given to the growers by the provincial government. The
wheat support price has been enhanced from Rs300 per 40 kg to Rs350 per
40 kg which ultimately result in higher price of flour in the province
The government of Sindh in order to procure wheat had
set up 200 procurement centers all over the province. However, the
government had given a talk over to the flour mills to lift the fresh
crop so that the ever increasing prices of flour could come to
pre-crisis period. It is however said that the honey moon of the
profiteers is now over as the arrival of the fresh crop is picking up
gradually. It is estimated that the flour prices may come down to Rs12
per kg early next month.