ISLAMABAD                   -                 Minister for National Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtiar Monday said that the panic buying of commodities may cause temporary disruption in supply and claimed enough stocks are available in the country to cater the demand of the coming months.

While addressing a press conference here, Khusro Bakhtiar said that not only enough stocks of pulses and edible oils are available in the country but also these prices will go down from April onwards.

Addressing a joint press conference here with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (SAPM) Dr Zafar Mirza, Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division Moeed Yusuf and Chairman National Disaster Management Authority Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal, Khusro said that sufficient stocks of 90 percent food commodities were available in the county and urged the people not to resort to panic buying or hoarding of the commodities.

Talking about the existing wheat stock position, the minister said that currently there were 1.8 million tons of wheat stocks available in the country which is enough for the entire year. He said that this year the government would procure 8.2 million tons of wheat at the cost of Rs288 billion. This year the procurement target would be doubled from the last year’s four million tons.

He said that that the Pasco, Sindh, will start buying wheat while the private sector’s procurement from Sindh would start from Tuesday.

“I am telling you with full responsibility to the nation that the stocks of wheat are enough for the entire year in the country,” he asserted.

He said that panic buying of flour may cause a temporary disruption, however, the government is trying to manage it. Whereas stocks of edible oil, ghee, potatoes, onions, pulses, poultry, livestock and dairy and other basic edibles were also sufficient for consumption.

The Minister said Pakistan has surplus production of rice and was producing around 7 million tons of rice while the local consumption is 3.5 million tons.

He said the country has almost 50 percent surplus rice which is being exported. Pakistan was producing around 4.4 million tons of potato, whereas there were around 75,000 tons of edible oil available in stocks.

He said that a committee has also been constituted to monitor the demand and supply condition and also keep the prime minister update about the situation.

Regarding pulses, he said that the country has enough of the grains, adding that available chick peas stock is enough for eight months. The rest of the pulses are being imported and the country has enough stocks for the next two and a half years.

“We had faced some problem in unloading the shipment of pulses due to the lockdown in Sindh. We are working with the government of Sindh to resolve the issue and streamline the supply,” he added.

Similarly, due to the lockdown in Sindh, fertilizer plants has been shut down in the province, he said adding “we have asked them to end it as farmers will need fertilizer for Kharif season.”  He said that as of today the pulses exporting countries have not imposed any ban on their export and we are getting enough supply. Due to slowdown in global market, the prices of pulses have come down by almost $ 150 per ton, which means in Pakistan the prices of pulses will go down by almost Rs 35 to Rs 40 per KG in the month of April. Therefore, he advised the people to avoid hoarding saying that the hoarders may be buying expensive pulses. Similarly, 75,000 metric tons of edible oil is either in stocks or in the pipeline, which is enough for two months.

The price of edible oil has gone down by almost $200 from $750 per metric tons in January to $550 metric ton. He said the prices will further go down in coming months of April and May.

The minister further said that they have enough onion production to cater for local demand and they have imposed ban on the export of onion.

“Our potato crop harvesting will start by the end of March and the will have a production of 4.3 million tons against the demand of 4 million tons. He said that 70,000 tons of potatoes were exported and now they are  regulating the import.

 

Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division Moeed Yusuf said that overseas Pakistani should avoid visiting Pakistan till April 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the country.

He said some of the overseas Pakistanis had tried to come to Pakistan from Turkey. However, the Pakistani embassy has helped them in getting Turkish visa and provide them accommodation.