MULTAN (APP) Voicing their concerns, a number of growers have pointed out that wheat purchase centres, established for the procurement of their produce were made hostage by the middleman. Poor wheat growers including Mohammad Afzal, Sher Hussain, Zahir Ahmed, Munir Ahmed, Rana Ajmal, Rana Khizer and Imdad Chathha, in a fit of rabid reaction, had to burn their golden grain for which they had laboured round the clock and spent thousands of rupees. The poor farmers were continuously visiting Main Pakhi Wheat Purchase centre (Vehari) in order to get gunny bags to sell their commodity. But every time, they were allegedly refused to get gunny bags from the centre as per recommended quota, they claimed. The farmers further stated that they were shocked when some middlemen managed to get gunny bags from the centre after entertaining the staffers deputed there. They were found protesting against the crew deputed at different wheat purchase centers in South Punjab. The middle-men were reportedly picking golden grains at Rs 800 per 40 k.g against govts recommended price of Rs 950. A farmer, Malik Mulazim Lungrial told APP, I was continuously visiting the Mian Pakhi Wheat Purchase Centre but was unable to get their heed and the treatment meted out by those holding the fort of Centre was quite dismaying. However District Food Control Sufian Ahmed denied the charges leveled by the farming community. There was complete transparency and not even single protest demonstration was held in Vehari, he claimed. The wheat procurement drive is in full swing across the province. Punjab govt has set a target to procure 4 million tonnes of wheat from farmers. The govt has introduced a policy to issue eight gunny bags against per acre piece of land. Three years ago, there was immense shortage of wheat in the country. Federal government raised the procurement prices of wheat to lure farmers to grow more wheat. The farmers welcomed the gesture shown by the federal government by offering reasonable rates to their commodity. This announcement showed tangible dividends, leading to a surplus stock of wheat in the country. It is very easy to grow wheat crop but its sale against government recommended rates is equally tough for poor farmers, said another farmer Malik Amjid. Wheat growers across the South Punjab including Kot Addu, Multan, Lodharan, Muzaffargarh, Shah Jamal, Jawana Bangla, Chowk Mateela, Pipli Adda, Mian Pakhi, Machhiwal, Hasilpur, Chubb Kalan, Kach Khoh, Kabirwala, Khanewal, Thingi, Mailsi and at other locations launched protest demonstration against the alleged irregularities committed by Food and Revenue officials, deputed at the centers. The farmers further alleged that kick backs were being taken against sale of even a single bag of wheat at diverse centers. This was a very disappointing situation for the farmers who ensured a surplus stock of wheat, vanquishing the wheat shortage in the country. Provincial minister for Food Chaudhary Abdul Ghaffor visited Wheat procurement centre at Pul 48 (Vehari), wherein a number of farmers registered their complaints to the minister. However they claimed that the provincial minister did not listen to their grievances. They were of the view that there is urgent need to address growers grievances and avoid situation like 2007 when masses were confronted with shortage of wheat. If the problems of farmers at wheat procurement centers were not addressed on time, the farmers could then switch over to other crops, leading to shortage of wheat again, sources at farming community apprehended. The government should enhance purchase target in order to pick optimal amount of commodity to save the farmers from further consternation. Agriculture sector is bastion of the country, the farmers should thus be provided all possible facilities not only in terms of sale of their produce but cheap agricultural inputs also be made available. Wheat procurement centers should always be on the qui vive to address and redress the throes and sufferings of the growers, enabling them to ensure surplus of this staple food in the country, pleaded farming community.