THE authorities' reluctance to pursue the reality that ours is an agricultural economy lies at the root of their ambivalence about the need to develop an adequate infrastructure that could not only provide food security for the country's population but also spare a sizeable surplus for export. This year's high production of wheat, staple food for a vast majority of the population and thus rightly called "the main pillar of food security", is a case in point. It appears that the Punjab government has decided to export one million tons of wheat as, according to all available indications, the crop is likely to yield more than 20 million tons. Out of this production, it is estimated that at least 10 million tons have been put up for sale by the farming community against the revised procurement figure of eight million tons: six million tons by Punjab and two million tons by the centre. So far, the province has purchased around 3.5 million ton (which would meet its need) and yet to procure the rest. That has prompted the province to export one million tons and yet have more than sufficient stock to meet an emergency. But in the inadequacy of the infrastructure lies the rub. Reportedly, the government's resources in buying the required quantity fall too short. Finances to pay the grower, gunny bags to collect the purchased crop, storages bins to keep the stock for the rainy day or, for that matter, dedicated human resource to see whether the process of procurement is being carried out honestly and to the satisfaction of the indefatigable Chief Minister - all have been found wanting, pointing an accusing finger at the planners and to the great shock of the public. The pity is that whenever the toiling farmer, helped by favourable climatic conditions, produces a bumper crop, it only benefits the middleman. Or the surplus goes waste for lack of easy access to the market or the government inability to buy, pay and store. Either way, the despondent farmer thinks twice before putting in extra effort the next season. The nation stands short-changed as well. Exporting surplus stock would be justified if the grower's problems are suitably tackled to encourage him to work harder in the future. Extra attention should be paid to have the required infrastructure ready to meet higher yield. Modern methods of production and inputs should made be available in sufficient quantities at affordable prices and in an unadulterated form. A developed agricultural economy would provide a fillip to the industrialisation and modernisation of the country. One would hope the country's policymakers take the issue seriously.