ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research has been apprised that the country’s target of wheat production in the year 2019-20 remained unachieved and the net shortfall of wheat was estimated at 1.41 million tonnes.
According to the report, the wheat production target for 2019-20 was set at 25.45 million tonnes.
However, National Food Security Secretary Omar Hameed Khan apprised the senate committee the reasons for the failure to achieve the wheat production target.
These reasons included smuggling, hoarding, overprices in local markets, global wheat prices and the effects of climate change.
He further said that there was a lack of cooperation of the provincial governments in the procurement of wheat and there were obstacles in the inter-provincial movement of wheat.
He said that one of the reasons for the wheat crisis was the minimum support price of Rs. 1400 per 40 kg while the price was higher in the open market, as a result of which farmers sold the product in the open market to get a higher price.
The official said that the government was reviewing the support price considering the cost of production and a policy decision would be taken before the next wheat harvesting season.
In addition, the chairman of the committee, Senator Muzaffar Shah, asked the ministry to respond to the 18 proposals finalized by the committee and sent to the ministry for implementation and asked them to submit a report at the next meeting. The wheat policy was formulated in consultation with stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the committee also discussed the ongoing operation against locusts across the country, especially in Balochistan, as Senator Usman Khan Kakar drew attention to the importance of the people.
The committee was informed that the Chinese government donated 50 high-performance air blast sprayers to Pakistan, out of which 12 were provided to the Balochistan Agriculture Department, besides 10 motorized sprayers were also donated and 835,000 in the province. Locusts were dealt with on acres of land.