KARACHI – On Wednesday, the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research expressed its concerns about the smuggling of wheat and fertiliser and requested that the appropriate steps be taken to stop the problem in order to ensure that the commodity is supplied across the nation at a reasonable price.

The Committee, which met here with Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Member National Assembly (MNA), in the Chair, also noted that the increase in flour prices in the local market was caused by wheat smuggling, in addition to the fact that the prohibition on the movement of wheat between provinces was another factor contributing to the widening gap between demand and supply in deficit areas and price volatility in the open market.

Zafar Hassan, secretary of the national ministry of food security and research, informed the committee that there were enough supplies of wheat on hand to meet local demands.

Approximately 1.224 million metric tonnes of wheat had also been imported, he added, and the remaining 1.376 million metric tonnes were on their way and would arrive up until March.

He said that the provincial governments’ slow transfers of wheat to millers from official inventories were the primary cause of the price increase. He added that the imbalance between supply and demand for the good was fueling price increases in local markets.

He claimed that the federal government supplied wheat to 11 other national organisations in addition to the provinces, and he added that because the recent floods had raised demand from the provinces, more wheat will be imported, amounting to an extra 0.6 million tonnes.

He informed the gathering that the procurement process for the import of 2.60 million metric tonnes of wheat had been completed, noting that the first tender had been awarded in May 2022 and the last in December, while wheat was also being imported from Russia under a government-to-government agreement.

Zafar Hassan informed the group that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine was to blame for a rise in grain prices on a global scale. He also said that local markets were also affected, resulting in higher pricing for various goods.

The meeting was also informed of the status of the Prime Minister Kissan Package. It was revealed that a total of Rs 663.9 billion had been released by the end of November 2022, and that the State Bank of Pakistan had announced the waiver of Rs 10.62 billion in markup on outstanding loans for subsistence farmers in the flood-affected areas.

Members of the National Assembly (MNA) Ahmad Raza Mancka, Kamal Uddin, and Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan were among those present during the meeting. The meeting was also attended by the chairman of PARC and other government representatives.

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