By Saleem Shaikh | DAWN.COM
KARACHI: Although the Sindh Food Department claims to have started wheat procurement last week in the province, the growers have complained of unavailability of the polypropylene (PP) and gunny bags at the centers.
Sindh Chamber of Agriculture official Nabi Bux said, “Unavailability of the bags coupled with absence of food officials at the wheat procurement points has prove bane for wheat growers and their joys of bumper wheat crop have also been marred.”
On the other hand, such an unfavourable situation has been boon for middlemen, hoarders and profiteers, who exploit growers by creating a situation in which they would be left with no choice but to sell out their produce at a price much below the official price.
“Lack of funds and unavailability of the bags in required quantity have remained so far major hurdles to timely initiation of wheat buying,” admits a senior food official.
The food department had also floated a tender on January 29, for buying 10 million PP bags (50kg each), which would be distributed among the wheat growers by April 1.
Sindh Food Secretary Mohammad Naseer Jamali said that some 400,000 bags are required to achieve the wheat procurement target.
These required bags were expected to be available to the department by April 30 and would have been distributed to the wheat farmers immediately, he hoped.
He also said that an amount of Rs30.73 billion had been borrowed from the banking sector to procure 1.3 million ton wheat, a target for the food department for 2011 Rabi season.