September 30, 2003
Pakistan Wheat Delay Helps Shortfall Next Year
Pakistan's wheat supply to millers have been delayed by a month, leading the Punjab Food Department to conclude that this might help ease the shortfall expected early next year.
The releases, which normally start in early September, will start in the first week of October this year. Around 7,000 tons of wheat are released daily and the Punjab has thus saved around 200,000 tons already.
However, the food department will still prefer to delay the releases by another week or so to ensure ample stocks in the months to come. Though there is still no pressure in the market for early release, the department also does not want to be left with a huge quantity at the end of the season.
The department currently has around 2.57 million tons of wheat and hopes to discharge around 2.37 million tons. Permission has already been granted by the federal government for wheat to be released in the provinces after Oct 1. This may ease tensions among millers who are requesting help as wheat and gunny sack prices increase.
There has been little manipulation on wheat prices, with farmers reaping the benefits of better prices this year, said an official of the department. As for the gunny bags, the Agricultural Minister said that the government paid Rs50 per bag and charged millers the same price. Any relief to millers on this front would mean a subsidy, which was not feasible.