ISLAMABAD - Even after raising the procurement target to 6 million tons, around two million tons of wheat, mostly of small farmers in the Punjab, are still available in the open market but with no private buyers, a survey report stated on Monday. The wheat crisis is here. The government claims that it has bought all the wheat it could and had promised. There are no private buyers in the market and a huge amount of wheat is still available with the farmers for sale, a survey conducted by South Asia Partnership and Punjab Lok Sujag highlighted. The survey concluded last month said even if the government achieved its raised procurement target (of 6 million tons), at least two million tons of wheat would still be available with the farmers. And this leftover tradable surplus of wheat belonged to small farmers as all the big farmers had already sold their produce to the government departments. The govt failed to estimate the size of the current crop and has only been taking measures to deal with its arrival as an emergency situation. The Punjab Food Department raised its procurement target from 3.5 to 4 and then 6m tons. The survey found that the govt had miserably failed to motivate and regulate the open market to follow the govt in offering the farmer the Support Price of Rs 950 per 40 kg. Now it is believed that the governments department concerned had stopped buying wheat as farmers had already sold out all their produce and only the middlemen (the private parties) were now trying to sell their merchandise to the departments. The middlemen buy wheat from small farmers who had borrowed money from them for cash inputs like fertilizers. They do not offer the farmers a fixed rate and pay them a percentage of the price they get from the open market. The middlemen generally sell their collection to commission agents (Arhtees) who are nowhere in sight in the current season. The report fears, If the government departments also stay away, it wont hurt the middleman much as he would simply unload it back into the farmers courtyard and the credit the farmer had secured from him would be carried forward. This means that all the losses will be shifted on to the farmers. This is how agriculture market behaves in this country. The SAP and Sujag ask the government not to blacklist any wheat dealer. Farmers grow all wheat. If it is in the hands of a middleman that is only because the governments agriculture financing system has failed to reach the small farmers. The SAP and Sujag appreciate the massive procurement that the Punjab government claims to have achieved and emphasize that it is time to support and regulate the private wheat market and take immediate policy measures to stop the wheat price from crashing to the floor.