LAHORE: Punjab Food Minister Ch Abdul Ghafoor has said that the Punjab government has approached the federal government with the request to increase wheat procurement target of the province. Speaking at TheNation Forum here on Tuesday, he said that the federal government had set 3.5 million ton wheat procurement target and the Punjab could not revise it at its own. He said that the Punjab chief minister had already announced to enhance procurement target to 4 million ton.The representatives from growers’ organisations said that the government had set a low target despite bumper wheat crop in the province this year. They also alleged distribution of gunny bags on political grounds and rampant corruption in revenue and food departments. They also alleged that the growers were forced to sell wheat at Rs 800 to Rs 850 as against the support price of Rs 950 per maund.Nawa-i-Waqt, TheNation and Waqt TV organised the debate on ‘bumper wheat crop, less procurement target and difficulties in getting gunny bags’. Besides Food Minister, Deputy General Manager Commercial National Fertilizers Corporation Asia Shaheen and representatives from growers organisations Ibrahim Mughal, Sardar Zafar Hassan and Rabia Sultan participated in the debate.Ghafoor said that the Punjab government had so far distributed 2.5 million gunny bags among growers. He said that the government had procured 2 million ton wheat from across the province. He said that the procurement was started at 375 centres with over one week delay caused by rains in April. He said that revenue department officials were also appointed at procurement centres along with the food department people to facilitate farmers.
Agri Forum Pakistan chairman Ibrahim Mughal said that the government had not fulfilled the promise of purchasing every grain of wheat from the growers. He said that the government would also failed to honour its commitment of procuring 4 million ton wheat.Kissan Board Pakistan President Sardar Zafar Hussain said that the government has announced special package for medics despite scarcity of resources. He suggested the government to revise procurement target and allocate more funds for the purchase of additional wheat. He said that unlike the previous year, the Punjab CM was not seen monitoring the process of wheat procurement. – Nation