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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to increase Rs150 per 40kg support price for wheat to motivate farmers.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam said in order to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat, the government has decided to increase the minimum support price for wheat to Rs1,950/40kg compared to Rs1,800/40 kg last year.

"We hope this will incentivise farmers to grow sufficient wheat to meet our national production target of 28.90 million mt. We also hope that availability of irrigation water and weather conditions will be conducive during rabi season to achieve this target," the minister said.

Due to much higher international prices of DAP fertiliser and shipping cost, the domestic price (Rs7,300/bag) has also increased significantly.

But thankfully, the price of urea (Rs1,850/bag) is stable and significantly lower than the international price (Rs5,400/bag) because government provide Rs126 billion annual subsidy for natural gas, he said.

The government is working closely with the fertiliser companies to ensure adequate availability of both key fertilisers during this rabi season, he said, adding that the government has provided over Rs16 billion for fertiliser, seed, pesticide, agricultural loan markup subsidies. These timely initiatives have helped generate record production of many commodities.

Ministerial body to recommend wheat support price

Our hardworking farmers have produced record crops this year. Pakistan has achieved the highest ever production of wheat (27.5 million mt), rice (8.4 million mt), maize (8.5 million mt), mung beans (0.275 million mt), onion (2.3 million mt), and potato (5.7 million mt). And sugarcane achieved the second-highest production (81 million mt), the statistics of the National Food Security Ministry stated.

In 2021-22 sugarcane production is estimated at 87.67 million tons; eight percent higher than that of last year.

Rice production is estimated at 8.84 million tons, which is five percent higher than that of last year. Maize production is estimated at 9.0 million tons, which is 8.5 percent higher than that of last year.

Cotton production as of 1 November 2021 is 6.2 million bales compared to 3.4 million bales (82 percent higher) at the same date last year, the ministry stated. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, however, blamed the Sindh government for the increase in sugar and flour prices, while also criticising the economic policies of the previous governments.

He said the PTI government had to pay back the debts incurred by previous governments.

He said the country was suffering as a result of the bad economic policies implemented by previous governments.

Talking about sugar prices, Chaudhry said that reports of a hike in prices were primarily coming from Karachi.

"The cost of essential commodities in Karachi is extremely high," he added. He noted that the price of a bag of wheat flour was Rs380 more in Karachi as compared to Punjab.

Food ministry blames MoC for wheat price hike

Similarly, other essentials including sugar are also more expensive in Sindh, he said. The Sindh government needs to clarify its position, he said.

"First, they didn't release wheat and now they are delaying cane crushing. What is their agenda, what do they want?"

Talking about petrol prices, the minister said there was a global crisis. He said the government had steadily decreased local taxes on oil.

"If we had continued with the same taxes, petrol would cost Rs180 per litre and the government would have earned Rs400 billion. But the government has lowered taxes and has earned Rs50 billion," he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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