–Wheat shortage a fake issue created by citizens and sellers themselves
–New supply after thrashing season would fix issue
LAHORE: The Punjab government is failing to continue the supply chain of wheat flour while most wheat grinding units, locally known as chakkis, have also closed due to a rise in the prices of ground wheat, Pakistan Today learnt on Monday.
A member of the Aata Chakki Association (ACA) informed this scribe that the demand for flour wheat had increased. “Due to an increase in demand, the price of wheat flour has jumped in many food markets of the province. Before the lockdown, 40kg ground wheat in the open market was for Rs1,800 whereas it is now being sold at the rate of Rs2,100,” he said.
“Some dealers are also creating an artificial crisis and shortage of wheat and a jump of Rs300 for 40kg wheat is causing the closure of many shops. Similarly, most chakkis have increased rates from Rs62 per Kg to Rs65 per Kg,” he added.
An official of the Punjab Food Department informed this scribe that the total demand of Lahore per day was 21,500 bags of wheat whereas the government has given 1.5 million bags.
“From Punjab, a total of 5,000 bags were also sent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP),” he added.
A resident of Canal Park Gulberg area Tariq Masih, expressing his despair, said, “I am in search of wheat flour for the last two days and am unable to find it at any shop. Some shopkeepers are spreading rumours that people are storing wheat because of the expected curfew that could be announced any day but some are upset themselves because they are not getting supplied”.
Another resident of Johar Town area, Nadir Saleem said, “I am not getting wheat four from the market. Shopkeepers are selling in kilogrammes and not providing a full bag of 10kg or 20 kg. They are of the view that there could be a serious shortage in the future due to which they were not selling wheat flour in bulk”.
Provincial Minister for Food Sami Ullah Chaudhry while commenting on the situation said, “There is no shortage of wheat in Punjab. The daily consumption of the province is 24,000 metric tons and we are providing 30,000 metric tons of wheat. The issue of the shortage at some points is a result of abnormal buying. If a consumer requires one bag of wheat flour he purchased two or more bags in panic while sellers have also added to this situation by hoarding”.
“Similarly, many philanthropists have stocked wheat to distribute it among the needy. No doubt, this is a remarkable effort but the pressure of demand has affected the supply chain. The government is providing wheat at subsidised rates and we are also setting the procedure of the procurement for philanthropists who would, as per procedure, come to the deputy commissioner (DC) office and get their quotation approved for buying wheat bags from us directly,” he added.
The food minister particularly added that thrashing of wheat will begin in a couple of days after which a new wheat supply would come to the market so, the problem would be overcome.
Lahore deputy commissioner (DC) Danish Afzal also assured that there was no need to panic as all would be managed soon.
“The 25 points which have been established specially for the presence of wheat are working efficiently and people are also getting the wheat from there,” he said.