Survey

2 million tonnes of wheat to

DailyTimes May 23, 2009

ISLAMABAD: As the private sector is not interested in the procurement process of wheat due to higher price of Rs 950 per 40 kg fixed by the government, about two million tonnes of wheat was still available with the farmers for sale.

This was revealed during a survey conducted by Punjab Lok Sujag-South Asia Partnership-Pakistan revealed here on Friday. A survey conducted by the organisation last month had concluded that even if the government achieves its raised procurement targets of 6 million tonnes, at least 2 million tonnes of wheat would still be available with the farmers. And this leftover tradable surplus of wheat belongs to small farmers as all the big farmers with right connections in power centres had already secured gunny bags and sold their produce to the government departments.

The wheat crisis was here. The government claimed that it had bought all the wheat it could as it had promised. There were no private buyers in the market and a huge amount of wheat was still available with the farmers for sale, the survey revealed.

The government failed to estimate the size of the current crop and had only been taking measures to deal with its arrival as an emergency situation. The Punjab Food Department raised its procurement target from 3.5 million tonnes to 4 million tonnes and then 6 million tonnes. In fact the chief minister had boasted to mop up every grain from the farmers. But the government had miserably failed to motivate and regulate the open market to follow the government in offering the farmer the support price of Rs 950 per 40 kg. In its game of political point scoring it identified the private buyers as adversaries and scared them away from the market.

Now it was claiming that it had stopped buying wheat as farmers have already sold out all their produce and only the middlemen (the private parties) were now trying to sell their merchandise to the departments.

The middlemen buy wheat from small farmers who had borrowed money from them for cash inputs like fertilizers. They could not offer the farmers a fixed rate and pay them a percentage of the price they get from the open market. The middlemen generally sell their collection to a Commission Agents (Arhtee) who were nowhere in sight in the current season. If the government departments also stay away, it won’t hurt the middleman much as he would simply unload it back into the farmer’s courtyard and the credit the farmer had secured from him would carry forward. This means that all the losses would be shifted on to the farmers. This was how agriculture market behaves in the country, the survey revealed.

The SAP and Sujag asked the government not to blacklist any wheat because farmers grown all the crops. If it was in the hands of a middleman that was only because the government’s agriculture financing system had failed to reach the small farmers. The wheat could not come in two brands ‘farmers’ own’ and ‘middlemen’s brand’.

The SAP and Sujag appreciate the massive procurement that the Punjab government claimed to have achieved and emphasised that it was time to support and regulate the private wheat market and take immediate policy measures to stop the wheat price from crashing to the floor.

 Wheat still available in market

Survey conducted by South Asia Partnership and Punjab Lok Sujag

Saturday, May 23, 2009
By The News Correspondent

LAHORE

A SURVEY has showed that a huge amount of wheat is still available with farmers that the government or the private sector is yet to purchase.

The survey conducted by South Asia Partnership and Punjab Lok Sujag said that even if the government achieved its revised procurement target of 6 million tonnes, at least two million tonnes of wheat will still be available with farmers and this leftover tradable surplus of wheat belongs to small farmers as all big and ‘connected’ farmers had already secured gunny bags and sold their produce to the government.

The government failed to estimate the size of the current crop and has only been taking measures to deal with its arrival on an emergency basis. The Punjab Food Department raised its procurement target from 3.5 to 4 and then to 6 million tonnes.

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