ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will today receive the first cargo of 60,804 metric tons of wheat imported from Ukraine as demand and supply gap of the staple causes price volatility in the markets, food ministry said on Tuesday.
“The first vessel carrying 60,804 metric tons of wheat from Ukraine will reach Karachi port on Wednesday afternoon,” the ministry said in a statement. The first eight vessels carrying around 500,000 metric tons of wheat will reach Karachi port by last week of September.
Last week, the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet allowed the Trading Corporation of Pakistan to place an order for the import of 200,000 tons of wheat in the public sector following the import of 500,000 tons of wheat by the private sector in the country. Pakistan needs to import 100,000 to 200,000 tons of wheat every month till April next year to check price hike in the domestic market as local production is not sufficient to stabilise grain supplies. A survey by The News found that strategic reserves or buffer stocks of one million tons are additionally required to control price rise, keeping in view the demand-supply gap.
An estimate says wheat production runs short of about one million tons and may be around 25.7 to 26 million tons this year. There is about 0.7 to 1.0 million tons less output in Punjab alone if compared with the provincial output target. The arrival of 700,000 tons of wheat in the next couple of months would help defuse price volatility, overcome shortage and discourage hoarding of this essential commodity in the country.
Earlier last week, Food Security Secretary Omar Hamid had an urgent visit to Karachi to have consultations with all stakeholders involved in wheat import-chain including Karachi Port Trust, wheat importers, plant quarantine authorities and Sindh Government. He assured full support of the government to the private sector to deliver timely wheat supply to mills for curbing high prices of wheat flour.
“Wheat is staple food and the government would take all necessary measures to keep it in the buying power of common masses,” Hamid said in a statement. He further urged all the stakeholders to contribute in this national issue. The secretary insisted on urgent clearance of wheat from Karachi port after mandatory inspections and quick transportation to the whole country.
Meanwhile, Food Security Minister Fakhar Imam, on his way back from Tharparkar after chairing the special weekly session of National Locust Control Centre in Mithi last week had visited the Department of Plant Protection to supervise the efforts of his ministry to guarantee hassle-free wheat import.