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Pakistan Govt to increase wheat buffer stock to 2m tonnes
Daily Times
ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to increase the buffer stock of wheat to two million tonnes this year to avoid any critical situation in the future, a senior official said here Saturday.

He also said that the wheat procurement target this year has been increased 5.5 million tonnes from 3.5 million tonnes last year. “The main purpose of raising this wheat procurement target by the government agencies is to build up wheat reserves of at least two million tonnes this year,” said the official.

He said last year the government had created one million tonnes of wheat buffer stocks, but these stocks proved insufficient to meet the demand of wheat deficient provinces - Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan. “Had the federal government maintained two million tonnes wheat reserves last year, it would not have faced the critical wheat situation this year,” he said.

Further, the official said that the federal government had imported 0.15 million tonnes of wheat this year to stabilise wheat stocks. The Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation, or PASSCO, had imported this wheat through the private sector.

The delivery of imported wheat will be completed by the 25th of this month, said the official.

“This year the ministry of food and agriculture is expecting a production of more than 20 million tonnes wheat,” said the official, adding timely rains, increase in wheat area and support price have brightened the chances of above the target production of the commodity this year.

He added that the Punjab has been given a target of producing 16 million tonnes wheat, Sindh 2.30 million tonnes, NWFP one million tonnes while Balochistan is set to produce 0.7 million tonnes wheat.

Total wheat area in the country stands at 8.195 million hectares this year against last year’s 8.094 million hectares.

The official pointed out that wheat area in Punjab has increased by one percent to 6.255 million hectares, NWFP has reported 4.9 percent increase in wheat cultivation area to 0.774 million hectares while Balochistan has also reported 3.3 percent increase in area, 0.315 million hectares.

However, Sindh is the only province that has recorded a 0.8 percent decline in wheat area as 0.851 million hectares were brought under wheat cultivation there this year against last year’s 0.858 million hectares.

The official said that the late start of sugarcane crushing season has led to the decline in wheat area in Sindh this year.

He, however, said that the incentive of Rs 50 increase in support price is expected to have a very positive impact on overall production of this major cash crop.

Last year wheat production was estimated at 19.19 million tonnes against annual consumption of 20 million tonnes.
MGR Archive 22.2.2004
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