TO overcome the food crisis and particularly to ensure a regular supply of flour, the government of Punjab has planned to place flourmills under official custody in the province. This was announced by Chief Secretary Javed Mahmood on Tuesday who rightly expressed fears that the situation might further deteriorate if enough measures were not taken.  The genesis of the issue could be traced to not only the poor management of wheat stocks by the previous set-up, which allowed its massive export, but also to the row between the government and flourmill owners over the price issue. There is little doubt that the mill owners, some of them politically well connected, have a hand in aggravating the crisis. They have been constantly raising prices in violation of rules and pressurizing the government to accept their demand. If anything, they have been making huge gains and caring little for the public, which is being deprived of the most basic item of staple diet. And now it is rather surprising to see the mill owners asking the authorities to fix the price of 20 kg flour bag at Rs 440. The government appears to be justified in saying that the price should not be more than Rs 390. Meanwhile, the government also needs to take stock of other elements fuelling the food crisis. Notable among them are inter-province flour movement, its illegal export to Afghanistan and lastly the scourge of hoarding. As these have been allowed to flourish, food scarcity has become a major problem of the country. According to the World Food Programme about 21 million people are currently facing food shortage in Pakistan. This should be seen in the backdrop of the world food crisis and the UN's warning of an impending tsunami of hunger to hit the globe in the near future.   Those responsible for creating an artificial shortage merely for monetary gains must be apprehended. One, however, hopes that the dispute between the government and mill owners gets resolved soon and amicably. The authorities should take a cue from the present mess and ensure a sufficient supply for the future.