ISLAMABAD, Jan 19 (APP): Minister for National Food Security and Research Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar on Sunday said sufficient wheat stocks were available in the country to fulfill the domestic requirements of flour and expressed firm resolve to take strict action against those involve in hoarding, profiteering or creating artificial crisis of the commodity in domestic markets.
Addressing a press conference, he said current scenario of wheat and flour was emerged due to multiple reasons that included transporters strike in Karachi which had effected the supply in the local markets of Sindh and ban on inter-provincial movement of wheat between Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to curb its smuggling.
Both the causes which were distorting the demand and supply in local markets were dually addressed and supply of grains were restored, he said adding that demand supply gap have been bridged and situation would be smooth in the local markets as well as prices would also came down in a couple of days.
He informed that wheat supply for Karachi was enhanced to 10,000 metric tons from 9,000 metric tons and wheat laden trucks of National Logistic Cell had already left, adding that the federal government had assured the provincial government to provide 50,000 tons more wheat from the PASCOs go downs on requirement.
He said supply in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which was disturbed due to inter-provincial checks was also realigned and supply to province was increased from 4,000 metric tons per day to 5,000 tons.
Besides, the private sector was also supplying 4,000 tons in provincial markets, he said adding that the supply for KPK to be enhanced by 10,000 metric tons from Monday.
So far, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had lifted 250,000 metric tons of wheat from 450,000 tons, he said adding that 100,000 metric tons of more wheat to be provided to province after the approval of Economic Coordination Committee that would meet on Monday.
The minister said the flour mills of Punjab was provided 390 metric tons of wheat, adding that total demand of Lahore city and adjoining areas were recoded at 180,000 bags of 20 kg per day.
Out of the total requirements the food department was supplying 140,000 bags and 35,000 bags were provided by the private sector, he said.
Bakhtiar said remaining 5,000 bags need were fulfilled from the local wheat grinders (atta chaki), adding that out of the total consumption only 5-6 percent was fulfilled from these local grinders and government was making mechanism to regulate these to keep the prices smooth.
He said about 40,000 metric tons of wheat were smuggled to Afghanistan per month and special measures were also made to check this smuggling to keep the supply smooth in local markets.
Khusro Bakhtiar said a special helpline was also established to monitor the wheat supply in local markets and wheat procurement targets were also enhanced from six million tons to eight million tons to keep the strategic reserves for local requirements.
To a question, he said incumbent government has attached higher priorities with the agriculture sector and initiated development projects worth Rs 300 billion to enhance the output of major crops including wheat.