The national food security and research ministry has made it clear that there were abundant reserves of wheat in the country – around 6.934 million metric tons at the start of November this year.
In a report, the ministry said the Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supplies Corporation (Passco) had a wheat stock of 1.78 million tons.
As far as the provinces are concerned, the ministry pointed out that Punjab’s had 4.021 million tons of wheat reserves, Sindh 817,000 tons, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 227,000 tons, and Balochistan 89,000 tons.
The ministry added that Passco’s reserves combined with those of the provinces, the wheat stocks were sufficient to meet the country’s requirements till May 2024.
It said after this period, the beginning of the new crop harvest season would see a surge in wheat availability in the local markets, further bolstering the carry-forward stocks.
It continued that the new crop started coming to the markets at the end of March.
“This amount is sufficient to tackle local dietary needs, besides keeping the strategic stocks as well as maintaining supply and demand smooth in local markets to provide the commodity at reasonable prices,” the report read.
As per the report, the private sector has started importing wheat as well after the interim federal government encouraged it. So far, 700,000 tons of wheat has been imported by the private sector into the country.
It is expected that 1.2 million more tons of wheat would be imported as well.
According to the report, the interim federal government has assured all possible support to the private sector to ensure the import of wheat till the arrival of the new crop.
It added that the supply and demand situation had improved because of these measures of the government and there was no shortage of wheat in any part of the country.
Wheat prices, which stood at Rs4,800 per 40kg a month ago, are being reported at Rs4,400 to Rs4,300 per 40kg now.
According to the report, there is a possibility of further reduction in the price of wheat. This will reduce the hardships of the common people and improve their purchasing power.
Separately, the University of Agriculture Faisalabad in collaboration with the Punjab Agriculture Extension Department has launched an eight-day wheat campaign from November 7 to November 14 in which 330,000 students would visit farmers’ fields in six divisions of the province.
The campaign is meant to disseminate experts’ recommendations to increase productivity per acre.
In a related development, agriculture scientists have advised wheat farmers to start cultivation at the start of November to ensure better production.
A spokesman for the agriculture department told the media that farmers in arid areas should only cultivate approved varieties of wheat including Chakwal-50, NARC-2009, PARC-2009, Dharabi-2011, and Pakistan-2013.
(With input from our correspondent in Jaranwala and APP)
Wheat in ample supply, minister confirms
A caretaker federal minister on Monday assured the upper house of parliament that Pakistan currently has ample wheat stocks and that the government will take concrete measures to address any flour shortage due to supply chain problems.
“There is no shortage of wheat in the country,” Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Information Murtaza Solangi said in response to a motion moved in the Senate by Sania Nishtar of the PTI under Rule 218.
The minister said Pakistan has over seven million (7,213,884) metric tons of wheat, with an additional imported stock of 10,33,845 metric tons.
“Public wheat stock comprises 39,24,367 metric tons in Punjab, 8,17,394 metric tons in Sindh, 2,15,082 metric tons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), and 89,354 metric tons in Balochistan.
“The Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation Ltd (Passco) accounts for 17,18,177 metric tons. Private wheat stock comprises 3,37,270 metric tons in Punjab, 93,165 metric tons in Sindh, 14,918 metric tons in the K-P, and 4,157 metric tons in Balochistan,” he added.
He said the support price for provinces differed, being Rs4,600 in Punjab and Rs4,700 in Sindh.
In her motion, Senator Nishtar had focused on addressing gaps in the wheat supply chain that may lead to flour shortage. She had pointed out the specific lacuna in the wheat policy, citing the conversion of green bags to white bags at the retail level. She also hinted at smuggling as a factor, contributing towards wheat shortages, in addition to the creation of systematic artificial shortages and hoarding.
In discussions on the motion, Senator Dilawar Khan of the PML-N suggested that Pakistan should focus on exporting wheat instead of importing this essential commodity. He further advocated for providing concessions to the agriculture sector to boost farming.
He said wheat procured in the past was not even suitable for animals’ consumption. He said the method of distributing wheat in the country is flawed. “Fertilizer is being sold in black markets too. The government should force dealers to maintain records of landowners,” he added.
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri of the JUI-F highlighted Balochistan’s agricultural challenges, emphasizing a lack of canal systems. He expressed concern about the removal of subsidies on electricity for poor farmers of the province.
Senators Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur of the PTI and Rukhsana Zuberi of the PPP stressed the need for a concrete solution to address the issue.
Senator Dr Zarqa said dealers are availing subsidies meant for farmers.
“Pakistan’s black economy is thriving more than the white one. There is a need for measures that increase the country’s income instead of benefiting corrupt individuals. Actions should be taken to break the backbone of the black economy,” she said.
The minister acknowledged the collective wisdom of the Senate, which, he said, ultimately provides guidance to the government. He said that discussions on the topic would be tabled before the federal cabinet and the prime minister for consideration.
WITH INPUT FROM APP
SHC’s stay on executive committee orders irks PBC
Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Haroonur Rasheed has taken strong exception over the Sindh High Court to grant stay on its executive committee orders, demanding of the chief justice of Pakistan to look into the matter and take appropriate action in this regard.
In a statement issued on Monday, the PBC vice chairman said, “It is often observed that Orders of Executive Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council which are assailed by the aggrieved person(s) before the Hon’ble High Court of Sindh through civil suit are being taken up by the High Court of Sindh in the Court or in Chamber and injunctive Order has been passed which are not entertainable in the eye of law due to lack of jurisdiction.”
Rasheed said, “The High Court of Sindh has no jurisdiction to set aside any Order assailed which is passed by the Pakistan Bar Council or its Executive Committee at Islamabad the proper forum for that is Courts of ICT, so any order passed by the High Court of Sindh that would be non-existing and nullity in the eye of law as one rather sitting in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab or Balochistan cannot set over the territorial jurisdiction and the High Court of Sindh should not pass injunctive Orders on the matters decided by the Pakistan Bar Council at Islamabad just to please their blue eyed person(s), which amount to undue interference in smooth functioning of a statutory body having its office in Islamabad.”
The statement added, “The tendency of such like issues creates serious doubts upon credibility of those decisions which have been passed without jurisdiction.”
Rasheed said that no high court of any province had jurisdiction, especially the SHC, to create hindrance in affairs of the regulatory body of lawyers who had the mandate under Section 13(2) of the Legal Practitioners & Bar Councils Act, 1973, to decide matters of Provincial/Islamabad Bar Councils and all bar associations of the country, which were challenged before it.
Pakistan, UAE ink MoUs for mega investments
Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) inked several Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs), paving the way for multi-billion dollar investments in diverse initiatives outlined by the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).
The signing ceremony took place in Abu Dhabi, witnessed by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, subsequent to a bilateral meeting between the two leaders.
The MoUs cover investment cooperation across various sectors, including energy, port operations, waste water treatment, food security, logistics, mining, aviation, and banking and financial services. The agreements aim to foster collaboration and stimulate significant investments in these key areas, a handout released by the Media Wing of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Information Ministry.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar today held a bilateral meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, NI (M) was also present at the occasion.
— Prime Minister’s Office (@PakPMO) November 27, 2023
On the occasion, Kakar termed the signing of the MoUs a historic event that “will take economic cooperation between both brotherly countries to new heights and open doors of economic prosperity and socio-economic development of Pakistan”.
Kakar also highlighted the success of the SIFC in creating a business and investment-friendly environment through one-window operation and fast-tracking the initiatives. He expressed the hope that the MoUs would turn into tangible projects very soon.
Separately, Kakar, who is on a two-day visit to the UAE, said in a video message that with the signing of the MoUs, the bilateral economic and strategic relations had entered into a new era of bilateral cooperation. On that he congratulated the people of Pakistan and the UAE.
“Foundation of friendship with Pakistan that was laid by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the 1970s, has been taken forward by his son Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to a new era,” the prime minister said in his message.
Earlier, Prime Minister Kakar held a bilateral meeting with Sheikh Mohamed. Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir was also present during the meeting. In their talks, the two leaders reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen the bilateral strategic cooperation and dialogue.
Prime Minister Kakar expressed profound gratitude for the UAE’s firm support for Pakistan in economic and financial domain. The UAE is home to 1.8 million Pakistanis, contributing to the progress, prosperity and economic development of the two brotherly countries, he noted.
Read more: Kakar arrives in Abu Dhabi on two-day visit
During the meeting, regional and global developments in the region were also discussed with particular reference to the escalating hostilities in the occupied Palestine. The prime minister expressed concern over the human cost of the dire situation in Gaza.
Kakar reiterated Pakistan’s full support to the UAE’s Presidency of the COP-28 and underlined the importance of the global gathering on climate change as an opportunity for meaningful progress towards effective and result oriented global actions on key areas, including the Loss and Damage fund.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Kakar embarked upon a two-day bilateral visit to Kuwait. During the November 28-29, 2023 visit, the prime minster will meet Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Jaber Al Sabah, Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nawaf Al Ahmed AL Sabah.
The Foreign Office spokesperson said in a press release that the visit would include the signing of various MoUs in the fields of manpower, information technology, mineral exploration and food security, energy and defence.
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