Flour mills run out of stock
A naan in Swat today costs Rs20, ten times more than what it was last year. According to flour mill owners, the effects of the ongoing wheat crisis have finally reached the public.
The district is on the verge of a wheat shortage after a 800,000-sack shortfall was reported in the supply of the commodity in May.
According to food department officer Jawad Ali, the stock of wheat typically runs out four months before the arrival of the wheat crop and is re-purchased when the crop is harvested. “The stock available in government warehouses has depleted, but new purchases have been made.”
Swat does not produce wheat because it is located in the mountains. It’s dependent on inter-district imports and government quotas to feed people.
Last year, Swat was given 800,000 100kg wheat sacks, which have run out now, Ali said.
Nine flour mills feed the district’s 2.3 million people. The government gives each mill 400 100kg wheat sacks every month, of which 85% has to be supplied to the public at subsidised rates.
A 20kg flour bag in Swat costs Rs860.
In May, the quota was reduced to 130 bags. After May 13, this supply was halted.
Flour mills in the district are on the verge of closing down ever since a ban on the import of wheat from Punjab was imposed. Rumors of another import ban on mills in Dera Ismail Khan have been circulating in the market.
Flour mill owners complained that delaying government quotas and banning imports have increased wheat prices.
“The government should allow mills to buy wheat from the open market,” Swat Flour Dealers Association President Haji Abdul Karim said.
Additional Deputy Commissioner Hamid Ali Khan has, on the other hand, assured that the supply of wheat will resume once the government procures it.