Punjab seeks permission to export surplus wheat

Post Source: www.dawn.com




ISLAMABAD, Nov 4: Punjab has sought permission to export about 2.5 million tons of surplus wheat, provincial authorities said on Thursday. Pakistan deferred plans in August to export 2 million tons of surplus wheat, after floods washed away at least 725,000 tons of the grain and raised concern about the next crop. Traders say that despite flood damage, Pakistan still has a surplus for export as wheat stocks soared this year after a bumper crop of 23.86 million tons in 2009-10, with a carryover of 4.2 million tons from the previous crop.

“We have written to the federal government to allow us to export surplus wheat and their reply is still awaited,” Punjab’s food minister Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor told Reuters.

“We have extra stocks and then we will also have the next crop ready in a few months.”

Ghafoor did not have details but an official in his ministry said the Punjab government had six million tons of wheat in stocks, including 2.5 million tons in reserves that it sought to export.

Pakistan consumes about 22 million tons of wheat annually. Harvesting begins in April and continues through June.

A senior finance ministry official in the federal government said last month any decision on wheat exports would be made after the sowing of the next crop, which has already begun in Punjab.
The planting season runs through December.

Pakistan banned wheat exports in 2007 because of shortages and high prices in the domestic market.

The central government this week set an ambitious target of 25 million tons
of wheat from the 2010-11 crop, despite vast damage to farmland in Punjab and in Sindh.
Food experts are cautious about the next crop target as large parts of Sindh, which produces about 17 per cent of Pakistan’s wheat, remain underwater.

Experts see a good wheat crop next year as vital to help flood-affected farmers and revive agriculture — the backbone of the economy — which suffered an estimated $5 billion in flood losses.—Reuters


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