200,000 tons wheat products to be exported

Published: June 05, 2009 (The Nation)

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan will export 200,000 tonnes of wheat products on expectations of a bumper wheat crop this year, a top Food Ministry official said on Thursday.
Asia’s third-largest wheat producer expects output of 24m tonnes this year, or 2m in excess of domestic requirements. Pakistan imposed a ban on wheat exports in 2007 because of shortages and higher prices at home but the curbs are being eased because of prospects of a good crop.
“The cabinet has given the go-ahead to export 200,000 tonnes of wheat products,” ministry secretary Mohammad Zia-ur-Rehman told Reuters.
“If there’s more demand, they’ll be given permission for more exports,” he said. The 200,000 was in addition to 600,000 tonnes of flour being exported to neighbouring Afghanistan, he said.
Pakistan sees the Middle East and Gulf as good markets for its wheat products. Rehman said the permission to export wheat products would help domestic flour mills get rid of surpluses.
“This needs to be liquidated otherwise it will become a headache,” he said. “Look at storage capacity. Eighty percent of wheat is lying out in the open and if heavy rain comes tomorrow, there will be massive damage,” he said.
Wheat stocks were at one million tonnes, which Rehman said was the highest stock level in Pakistan’s history. The harvest was due to be completed by June 30. Qadir Bukhsh Baluch, wheat commissioner at the Food Ministry, said there might be more wheat product exports when the final figure for the harvest came in.
But the ministry was not seeking the lifting of the ban on wheat exports, he said.
Last year, Pakistan produced 21.8m tonnes of wheat after the area planted with the crop fell 2.6pc against a target area of 8.49m hectares, and the govt had to import to cover the shortfall.
But last September, the government raised the price it pays farmers for wheat by 34 percent to 950 rupees ($11.77), in a bid to encourage them to grow more. The wheat-growing area then increased this year to 9m hectares.

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