Sunday Jun 20, 2021
LAHORE: The Punjab Food Department is witnessing a shortage of about a million tons of wheat in its stock after completion of the procurement drive, The News reported Saturday.
With the procurement of nearly 3.8 million tons till the end of the official buying drive on June 15, the provincial food department is short of about a million tons at least in its reserves even if approximately 1.5 million tons are available with flour mills.
“Upon successful achievement of the assigned wheat procurement target, the government of Punjab hereby brings to a close the wheat procurement campaign 2021-22 w.e.f. 15.06.2021,” the department said in a notification.
However, the department expressed its resolve to confiscate illegal stocks. The district administration will continue to act against unlawful hoarding of wheat stock under the law. The department issued a notification for tightening its grip on the supply of wheat and its products with a watchful eye on flour price, which is a politically sensitive commodity.
“Atta bag price shall be notified immediately. Till the atta price is communicated by the food department, all DCs to hold a meeting with flour mills associations of their respective district to ensure supply and availability of atta at reasonable prices. Strict actions shall be taken against overcharging of atta bag and an activity report shall be submitted on daily basis. Fine and superfine wheat flour shall not be sold in 10kg and 20kg packing and the word flour shall not be used on packing of fine and superfine bags. In case of violation.
Actions shall be taken against the concerned flour mill. Atta sale point shall be established in main retail shops and superstores and display of panaflexes containing ‘DC Sahulat Atta Stall’ and price shall be ensured at a prominent place.”
Last year, the provincial food department issued more than five million tons of wheat to flour mills at subsidised rates. For the sake of being comfortable on the supply-side and maintaining one million tons strategic stock, the department needs to have about 4.8 to 5 million tons stocks.
However, the biggest challenge will be proper monitoring and regulation of private wheat bought by flour mills.
Market insiders said the formal release of wheat to flour mills should be avoided as much as possible – up to mid-September/October.
For the time being, the sluggish trend in the flower market on the back of lukewarm response from consumers has been a boon for the Food Department, keeping the price of flour on the lower side. This phenomenon has been there since huge supplies of highly subsidised flour during Ramazan.