The government has sought proposals to fix a new wheat support price for the upcoming crop to incentivise farmers for a better harvest and to curb millions of dollars in imports and mange a sharp increase in demand, particularly from Afghanistan.
Since wheat sowing has already commenced, the government wants to encourage the farmers by increasing minimum support price (MSP) of wheat for year 2021-22. Imtiaz Ali Gopang, Food Security Commissioner of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research told The News that the food ministry had sent a proposal to the commerce ministry and also to finance division and have sought their views/comments. “Following their reply, we would send the summary to the approving (Economic coordination Committee of the cabinet) forum”.
When asked for the estimated increase in MSP, he said the proposal was in its initial stage, and the exact increase would be decided later. It is worth mentioning that the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research, earlier this month, recommended to the government to announce Rs2,200/40kg as the minimum support price for 2021-22 wheat crop.
Currently, the government’s wheat support price is Rs1,800/40kg of wheat. An official, however said the government is likely to increase support price by Rs150 to Rs200. It is to be noted that the government recently fixed 28.9 million tonnes of wheat production for Rabi (winter) year 2021-22.
From Punjab, the government expects 21.94 million tonnes, Sindh 4.2 million tonnes, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1.522 million tonnes and Balochistan 1.207 million tonnes. However, due to the changing scenario of the region and Afghanistan’s demand for wheat, the government wants to encourage growers to produce more wheat.
He said that if the government announced the enhanced support price now, when sowing has already started, farmers would increase wheat sowing area. Last year, when the government enhanced MSP from Rs1,400 to Rs1,800, farmers produced a record 27.5 million tonnes.
Each year, around five to six million people are added to our population, which increases demand for this staple.
In a recent meeting of the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA), minister for Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam said the government has been focusing on availability of certified seed and for the upcoming season, around 530,000 tonnes of seed will be available, including 160,000 tonnes of rust-tolerant varieties. He said the government was also formulating a policy where every stakeholder was heard and all concerns were addressed. “An informed policy will be made before the sowing season to enhance wheat productivity and overall production,” the minister added.