The Food Department will purchase 474,000 metric tonnes of wheat from growers during the current year procurement at the support price of Rs1,300 per 40 kilogramme, said a top divisional officer.

In the open market, he added, the middle man is buying wheat from growers at Rs1,100 per 40 kilogramme. Last year, its support price was Rs1,250 per 40kg. For the benefit of growers, the Punjab government has increased Rs50 per 40 kilogramme this year, he said.

During a meeting, food officials told Commissioner Muhammad Saqib Aziz that the department had set up 44 centres for the purchase of wheat in the division.

“Gunny bags will be distributed to the growers according to their periodic record of harvest as per report of the revenue officials concerned from April 20 to April 24. After that, the procurement of wheat will start on April 25. The procurement drive will end after 40 days according to whether condition,” they said.

They further said that 181,683 metric-tonne wheat is stocked in warehouses while 431,000 metric tonne stock would be stored under water-proof sheets. Those involved in corruption in last year would not be allowed to perform duty at purchase centres,” they said.

The duty roster of 69 officials out of 88 has been made, they added, and said they will perform their duty at purchase centres from 08:00 am to 05:00 pm without any holiday. The commissioner directed that middle men and purchase agents of wheat would not be allowed to enter the premises of purchase centres, attendance of officials be checked by biometric system and all process of purchasing be monitored by CCTV cameras. There will be no ban on inter-province movement of wheat, he said.

District coordination officers Nadeemur Rehman, Ghazi Amanullah, Hafiz Shoukat Ali, Rana Gulzar Ahmed and Additional Commissioner coordination Qazi Zaffar Iqbal, Assistant Commissioner General Abdul Jabbar, District Food Controller Muhammad Ahsan Chema with staff were the participants.

After the meeting, District Food Controller Muhammad Ahsan Chema said that in the province, the Punjab Government has set wheat purchase target of 44 lac metric tons while the target for district Dera Ghazi Khan is 96,000  metric tonne for year 2015.

He mentioned that due to warning of Pakistan Meteorological Department regarding heavy rains during the harvest, the process has been delayed. Two-day recent rains in the division had destroyed large quantity of wheat, he said.

He added that the department would perform its duty to provide quality flour at affordable prices for citizens while safeguarding the interest of wheat growers by fair prices of their produce. All arrangements to facilitate the peasant regarding purchasing and bank payment had been finalised, he affirmed. Now, they should discourage the middle men and directly sell their wheat at the food centres.

Managing Director of Sun Crop Group of Pesticides Pvt. Ltd Muhammad Hanif Khan Pitafi talking to The Nation said that every year, the wheat grower suffer due to negligence and corruption of food officials at the time of wheat procurement.

Pakistan is 10th country whose 36 percent land is cultivable while it is ranked 59th regarding per acre yield. He suggested that the district administration should ensure monitoring of the procurement process to facilitate the wheat growers and stoppage of food officials’ corruption.