Senate panel wants wheat support price hike
ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee has suggested the government to increase wheat support price by Rs500 to Rs18,500/40kg from the existing level of Rs1,800.
In this regard, a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research was held on Wednesday at the Parliament House, chaired by committee chairman Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah.
The agenda of the meeting entailed measures taken by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to evolve a uniform minimum wheat support price.
The members of the committee said Sindh has fixed the wheat support price of Rs1,950/40kg, whereas it is less in Punjab, which is discouraging the growers.
Owing to inflation and increase in the input cost, the government should fix the wheat support price in the range of Rs2,200 to Rs2,500/40kg, it said.
The committee also discussed details of the availability of certified wheat seed in view of the increasing yield per acre.
Shah appreciated the efforts of the Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam regarding fixation of the minimum cotton support price.
He said a similar exercise to set the support price for wheat is required to raise the morale of growers; so that they do not opt for other high yield/low cost crops.
He said it was imperative that a forum should be constituted that would include representatives from all the four provinces to ensure uniformity in wheat support price across the country.
Regarding exorbitant increase in fertiliser rates, the committee said the government must take stringent measures to curb this since this would adversely affect the road to food sufficiency in the country; which must be prioritised.
Imam assured the committee of the ministry’s support and said the ministry is seeking to develop strategic wheat reserves that will cater to the needs of the people in challenging times.
Regarding increase in fertiliser, especially Nitrophos and DAP, he said, these rates were totally dependent on international prices that have soared to 70 per cent.
The committee also took up the current sugar crisis and stressed the need for evolution of a mechanism to ensure that crushing takes place at a specified time and also emphasised the importance of curbing multi-tiered white collar crime.
The committee members were of the view that food security is directly proportionate to national security and very strong strategy must be employed to address it.
It was asserted that seed technology must be enhanced and research institutions must be revitalised. The committee recommended that in addition to various facets of food security in the country; challenges of farmers must not be ignored.
The committee recommended real-time monitoring of input costs, international prices, competing policies and competing crop value charges.
Senators Seemee Ezdi, Sania Nishtar, Kesho Bai, Saifullah Abro, Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, Kamran Murtaza, Muhammad Akram and senior officers from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research along with all the relevant officials were present on the occasion.
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