Wheat flour out of people's reach as soaring prices bite

The arrival of 300,000 tonnes of Russian wheat expected to soften the crisis

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Web Desk
People gather around a truck to buy subsidised flour bags. — Twitter
People gather around a truck to buy subsidised flour bags. — Twitter
  • Worsening economic situation deepens crisis.
  • Subsidised 10-20kg flour bags short in supply.
  • 300,000 tonnes of Russian wheat reaches Karachi port. 

LAHORE/KARACHI: Soaring flour prices, and the emergence of black markets, have made flour and its by-products inaccessible to people across the country, reported The News.

The price of flour has soared to Rs130 per kg, fine flour is available for Rs150 per kg, while Chakki flour is selling at Rs160 per kg.

The 10kg and 20kg flour bags, subsidised by the Punjab government, are short in supply despite the allocation of wheat to mills. The price for a 15kg bag has also skyrocketed and is selling at Rs133 per kg or over Rs2000 per bag. On the other hand, the price of whole wheat flour soared to Rs150 per kg in Punjab.

Flour prices in Sindh, especially the urban areas, and Balochistan, have shot up to over Rs150 per kg, while in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) a 20kg flour bag is selling at a record price of Rs3,000 per bag, and is still in short supply. The prices are reportedly higher in Gilgit Baltistan and Azad and Jammu Kashmir.

Due to the high prices, the rates of naan and tandoori roti have also doubled in comparison to a year back.

The dual rates of the commodity have given rise to black markets and hoarding, especially in Punjab. There have been rampant complaints about the pilferage of subsidised wheat in the province.

Moreover, people have raised serious concerns over the deterioration of the quality of the subsidised flour. Many complain that sub-standard and smelly flour is being supplied by the flour mills as no quality checks are in place.

The worsening macroeconomic situation, depleting foreign exchange reserves and destruction of wheat crops due to floods have deepened the crisis.

Market insiders told The News that the price could be stabilised if the issuance of wheat to flour mills is regulated effectively.

Meanwhile, in a relief to the country, two ships carrying more than 300,000 tons of Russian wheat arrived in Karachi on Monday. The Ministry of National Food Security & Research announced that Pakistan will import 750,000 tons of wheat from Russia. The remaining 400,000 tons are expected to arrive at the Gwadar Port by the end of March.

People struggle to get a single bag of the daily-use food item, and stampedes have also been reported at subsidised flour sale points in rural parts of the country.