The National Standing Committee on Commerce has asked the relevant ministry to bridge the shortfall in cotton production and low wheat yield with timely imports to contain price hikes in the domestic market.
This was said in a meeting, chaired by the Committee Chairman, MNA Naveed Qamar, who suggested to the Ministry of National Food Security & Research to fix the minimum support price for cotton to encourage its production.
He called on the Federal Government to take serious steps for fixing a justified Minimum Support Price (MSP) and incentives to local growers of wheat.
Secretary Ministry of National Food Security & Research briefed the Committee on imports of wheat, Minimum Support Price, wheat stocks in the country, and pricing trends in the local and international markets.
The Committee observed that the benefit of subsidy is going to foreign farmers in the shape of import of wheat at higher rates. Qamar directed the Ministry of National Food Security & Research and the Ministry of Commerce to prepare a joint comprehensive report on the management of the wheat crisis for further deliberations in the next meeting.
He also expressed concern about mismanagements in prior planning of wheat imports, causing not only a shortage of wheat in the country but also a huge hike in the price of flour.
Secretary Food, Ghufran Memon, briefed the Committee over the import of wheat saying that this year’s wheat production is estimated at 26.04 million tons while the demand is 29 million tons. Last year, 25.25 million tons of wheat was produced.
He also said, “We have imported 3.6 million tonnes. We will import wheat from Ukraine and Russia this year,” he added.
Five years ago, the wheat support price was Rs. 1,600 per 40 kg, which was increased to Rs. 1,800 before the sowing of the crop began this season.
On the issue of cotton, the Committee recommended the Ministry of National Food Security & Research to fix the minimum support price for cotton. Secretary Food informed that the ministry had already proposed the minimum support price, but it was not considered. He further informed the Committee that there is a shortfall of 5 to 6 million bales of cotton this year. The cotton yield fell to 6 million bales in the current year from 12 million bales owing to multiple reasons, he added.
The government has allowed duty-free import of cotton and cotton yarn to meet the demand of the value-added sectors.
Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) Chairman, Riaz Memon, briefed the Committee on issues relating to the protest of employees of TCP on no increase in salaries since 2017. The Chair directed the Secretary Ministry of Commerce to resolve the issues of the employees and present a report in the next meeting of the Committee.