Wheat prices: Let them eat cake
Wheat prices in Pakistan reached to new heights in last week and government said it is taking all mandatory steps to over-come the recent crisis.
This all starts few days ago, People of Pakistan started sharing News on social media that flour prices are getting sky rocketed in the markets and then mainstream media took the line and becomes the buzz in the town.
The issue got worsened when Punjab government stop sending wheat and flour to mountain locked neighboring province Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Federal government starts blaming the provincial government of Sindh for the shortage of flour. Meanwhile the government of Baluchistan accused export of wheat to Afghanistan, as a main reason behind the crisis.
Last year, wheat production was projected at 25.195 million tons by federal government, but actual production was around 24.7 million tons. Previously, wheat production had stood at 25.076 million tons in 2017-18 and 26.674 million tons in 2016-17.
It is understand that 24.7 million ton production would normally have been more than enough for meeting our annual domestic needs.
Wheat crisis origin
In Feb 2019, government of Pakistan decided to export 0.5 million tons of wheat.
March 2019, PTI Senior leader Jahangir Taren headed sessions to increase the export of wheat to the neighboring countries.
Federal ministry for food security advice a summary in June 2019to ban wheat export to maintain wheat availability, but government refused to do it
Economic coordination committee applied ban on the export of wheat in July 2019. Meanwhile ministry took a stance that wheat is being exported in maintainable capacity.
In September 2019, finally federal government stopped exporting wheat and showed that government had enough storage of wheat in data, but prices continued mounting.
Despite government ban, export to Afghanistan continued in October 2019. It caused increase of almost 45 rupees per Kilo-gram in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Role of Sindh and Punjab
The crisis begun when Sindh decided not to purchase wheat this year as politicians and administration of Sindh is already facing corruption charges in procurement of wheat. The decision then put its impact on Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well.
Meanwhile, Punjab also imposed a ban on inter-provincial movement of wheat.
Keeping in view this whole situation, profiteers and hoarders started exploiting the situation and allegedly plunged into secret stock piling of wheat to increase prices.
De-escalation of chaos
After the intervention of federal government, Punjab started supplying five thousand tons of wheat to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the economic coordination committee has import of three hundred thousand tonnes of wheat.
The ECC meeting was informed that the first shipment of wheat is likely to arrive in the country by 15th of next month.
It only Baluchistan, where crisis started first and it seems that it will last some more weeks there.
Shameful political statements
It is noticed that in the intense food crisis, some politicians gave such shameful statement that reminded us the Queen Marie Antoinette of France in eighteenth century. In the days of famine, she once said sarcastically that “if they don’t have bread, let them eat cake.
Federal Minister of Railway Sheikh Rasheed said that people consume more flour in winter seasons.
In the meantime, Information Minister of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa Shaukat Yosuf Zai told the Tandoor (clay-oven) owner to decrease the weight of Naan (loaf) in crisis days, instead of increasing prize.
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