Sindh wheat under fungus threat due to lack of storage facilities

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 (The News International)

By Imtiaz Hussain
Thousands of tonnes of wheat in Sindh is under threat from fungus. Authorities are not taking any measures to save the wheat.

Wheat procurement centres were established at various places of Sukkur, Khairpur, Naushahrofiroz, Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah) Khairpur and other districts of Sindh for purchasing wheat at the official price of Rs950 per maund.

District Food Controllers were given wheat procurement targets and for this purpose they distributed guinea bags among the growers. According to the office of the Deputy Director Food Sukkur, in Sukkur the target of the wheat procurement was 60,000 tonnes and for meeting this target 17 purchasing centres were established and the department purchased 61,350 tonnes wheat.

Ghotki had a target of 1,50,000 tonnes and the food department procured 1,41,530 tonnes of grains from 23 centres set up in the area. Khairpur met its target of 1,50,000 tonnes of wheat by setting up 34 centres

Naushahrofiroz procured 1,15,601 tonnes of wheat by establishing 33 purchasing centres to meet its target of 1,20,000 tonnes.

Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah) procured 1,39,865 tonnes of wheat by establishing 35 centres to meet target of 1,46,000 tonnes. The Food Department procured 58,70,118 tonnes wheat out of 62,60,000 tonnes wheat.

The Food Department has only 32 covered food warehouses for storing wheat including six in Sukkur, three in Ghotki, nine in Khairpur, seven in Naushahrofiroz and seven in Benazirabad. Around 2,32,772 tonnes of wheat is stored in the open and uncovered places including 19,407 tonnes at Sukkur, 51,034 tonnes at Ghotki, 63,594 tonnes at Khairpur, 61,120 tonnes at Naushahrofiroz and 37,615 tonnes in Benazirabad district.

The wheat stored in open areas is under threat of fungus and bacteria due to humidity and high temperature.Further the Sindh Government is not interested in shifting the grain to covered places and their negligence may cause the wheat to rot and lead to scarcity of flour in Sindh.

Moreover since the last 20 years the Sindh Government has not bothered to build or hire covered warehouses. The quality of wheat will be affected and dust will mix with the wheat which will later be supplied to the flour mills.

Agriculture experts said that the temperature of the wheat is not maintained at covered or uncovered warehouses and the Food Department is not spraying the wheat before storing it. Experts say that flourmills and stone grinders grind the insects, fungi along with wheat contaminating the flour that causes diseases.

It has come to light that the food department has not arranged watch men at stored wheat places and such negligence could lead to the stealing of wheat. If the Sindh government stores wheat in covered areas and at proper temperature there will be no scarcity of flour. Experts said that if Sindh government abides by these measures then Sindh will be in a position to export wheat to other provinces.

Experts said that Sindh Government bans the movement of wheat to other provinces, but every year thousands of tonnes of wheat from Sindh goes to Afghanistan and Iran even though there is tight security at the borders.

imtiaz_phulpoto@yahoo.com

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