STAFF REPORT IBD: The food security in Pakistan seems extremely chaotic as despite the fact that farmers are producing more and more, especially wheat, and the country is enjoying surplus crops, the masses are still suffering shortage and unabated price hike and the food security issue is getting a serious courtesy the nefarious elements like middlemen, smuggling mafia and official network of some relevant department.
Food experts are critically examining this situation giving a warning that the countrys food security is under threat due to the shallow approach of the economic managers whose policies are inflicting heavily not only on farmers but also the consumers.
“It happened first time in the history of the country or perhaps in the history of Pakistan that despite food surplus shortage and price hike has been created several times during last one decade. While farmer is producing more and more wheat but not getting any benefit,” commented Agri Forum Pakistan Chairman, Ibrahim Mughal, said while commenting on the food security in Pakistan.
Similarly, he said, wheat miller is making hue and cry due to shortage of wheat, wholesaler and retailers are complaining eroding margins and the end consumer is suffering as price of wheat flour and bread have increased overnight without any justification.
Especially the Punjab government has completely failed in evolving a vision, solid planning and sound implementation of mechanism in order to ensure progress of the agricultural sector, which may lead to a worst food security situation in coming years, Mughal said.
He quoted the example of India where the farmers experience proper policies, better management of sense of responsibility on the part of government; the best part of Indian measures was to slap a ban especially on wheat for the time being in order to contain price for local market.
But in Pakistan, he said with regret, the wheat flour prices are regularly on the rise despite that fact the wheat is the major staple food in the country.
“This is highly understandable that farmers continue increasing wheat production every year and the government also raises its support price, why doesnt its price come down in the country and why doesnt the economic condition of farmers improve,” remarked another food expert, Haji Idrees Sulehri.
He linked the food security issue to the shortsightedness of the relevant authorities who appear unable to take decisions right before the time.
Pakistan looks quite comfortable in wheat supply during the current year as the country had a bumper harvest of wheat crop for the last 4 years, with an all-time record production of 25.21 million tons in 2010-11 and for the year 2011-12, the crop is estimated at 23.52 million tons.
A recent statement of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research reveals that, during the current year, the public sector wheat stocks were 9.30 million tons including the current procurement of 5.79 million tons and last years carry-over stocks of 3.51 million tons.
The public sector on the average annually relapses 6.5 million tons to flour mills and other agencies/areas and maintaining the strategic reserve of one million tons, the country is left with 1.80 million tonnes surplus, the statement said.
He said overall global food situation is not very promising as three years back global production of wheat was 690 million tons which has come down to 650 million tons thus showing a shortfall of 40 million tons.
Experts say that it is the high time that the relevant official quarters should properly maintain food security as without considering the mechanism of market economy it should also put a ban on export of essential food grains until and unless prices are stabilised inland.
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