LAHORE  - Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has granted approval to 35 lakh metric tons of wheat procurement for the current year.

The Chief said wheat would be procured from the farmers at the fixed rate while the interests of small cultivators would be fully safeguarded. He said distribution of gunny bags among the farmers would start from April 15 through a completely transparent manner. He directed provincial ministers and secretaries to pay field visits to supervise wheat procurement campaign. He announced that he would also visit wheat procurement centers to review the situation. He said that his aircraft and helicopter would also be available for visiting far-flung areas during wheat procurement campaign.

The Chief Minister said this while presiding over a high level meeting here on Monday regarding wheat procurement campaign 2014 in the province. Federal Minister for Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan especially participated in the meeting, provincial Ministers Bilal Yaseen, Muhammad Shafiq, Rana Mashood Ahmed, Iqbal Channer, Dr. Farrukh Javaid, Assembly Members, Chief Secretary, PASSCO officials and concerned officers were present.

The Chief Minister said that wheat procurement target of 35 lakh metric tons has been set in the province. He said that interests of small farmers would be upheld at any cost and complaint centers would be established at tehsil, district and province levels to redress the grievances of the growers. He further stated that concerned assembly members would also be inducted in the supervisory committees to be set up at district level. The Chief Minister removed the timing restriction at the procurement centers during wheat procurement campaign and said that entire wheat produce would be procured daily from the cultivators coming to the centers.

He directed that proper arrangements be made at the procurement centers for facilitating the farmers. He said that full benefit would be taken from citizens’ feedback system during wheat procurement campaign and the role of middleman would be completely eliminated. He directed that digital monitoring system be evolved for the entire process from distribution of gunny bags to the wheat procurement. The Chief Minister issued orders for the screening and transfer of the Food Department staff posted at the same place for a long period and directed that honest and hard working officials be posted at wheat procurement centres. He further ordered digital monitoring of the flour mills purchasing wheat. He directed Food Department to ensure achievement of wheat procurement target as well as provide maximum facilities to the cultivators.

Federal Minister for Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan said that wheat would be procured in a transparent manner during the campaign and due returns would be ensured to the farmers for their produce. Secretary Food and PASSCO authorities gave a detailed briefing on wheat procurement campaign.