LAHORE:/DNA/ – The Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) on Sunday demanded that Punjab government may revise the wheat support price to Rs3,900 per mound from Rs 3000 per mound for the procurement season of 2023.
PBF Vice President, Chaudhry Ahmad Jawad said that we must bring uniformity to the wheat support price in order to eliminate market distortion. In this regard the provincial cabinet must make the timely decision regarding this.
After the Sindh government raised the price of wheat to Rs4,000 per mound an upward revision of the support price is inevitable for Punjab. Wheat smuggling from Punjab to Sindh has been encouraged by a difference of Rs1,000 between Sindh and Punjab. As the grain market remained stable due to the uniform price of Rs2,200 per mound in Punjab and Sindh last year.
It is important to note that the cost of production minus profit for wheat cultivation in Punjab is Rs2,965 per 40 mound.
Jawad said that raising the wheat support price from Rs3,000 to Rs4,000 would help local farmers compete globally because they would get a good price for their produce.
“We have evaluated import price estimates and determined that a price of Rs4,000 per mound would be competitive globally and regionally.” PBF official stated that the provincial government should manage the situation in a coordinated manner to ensure that deserving consumers do not face a price increase for wheat at any time in the interest of consumers.
A package of targeted subsidy program could be implemented for this purpose to alleviate inflationary pressure on vulnerable consumers.
However PBF believes that a favorable wheat support price would profitably cultivate this important food staple and encourage wheat growers. “we hope wheat would largely be in safe hands instead of private buyers who used to sell it in the open market.”
On import of wheat issue, PBF Vice President, Jahanara Wattoo said unfortunately Pakistan has become an importer of wheat for a number of years. Over six million tonnes of wheat were imported into the country over the past three years for $6 billion, or $2 billion per year on average.
3.162 million tonnes worth $983 million were imported in 2021. Pakistan received 2.2 million tonnes worth $795 million the year before. Over a million tonnes have been imported thus far this fiscal year at a cost of $500 million, and the process is continuing.
The sad fact that Pakistan now imports wheat is that the country has a 70% agricultural population. The following point of agony is: How much wheat will have to be brought in from abroad in the future? Because the domestic crop is failing and the population is rising, its requirements will rise.
“Can Pakistan afford to import wheat for more than $2 billion annually and risk increasing this amount annually” she questioned. Wheat is a food that is simple to grow and has been for thousands of years.
Jahanara Wattoo also said government may also needs to regulate its seed industry and guarantee input supply to ensure availability, and farmers will take care of the rest. However, the wheat seed industry, like that of cotton and other crops, is in complete disarray.
There are currently over fifty seed varieties on the market. Before losing their strength and disappearing from the market, some seed varieties spread to 60–70 percent of crop areas. Neither the entrance nor the exit doors of the seed market have been properly inspected. This must end, she added.