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Wheat Import Scandal: Inquiry Committee Discovers Vital Evidence

ISLAMABAD: In a recent development related to the wheat import scandal, evidence has emerged, highlighting a brewing conflict between federal and provincial governments that poses a significant threat to the agricultural sector.

The high-level inquiry committee, formed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, uncovered a letter penned by the Secretary of Food, Punjab, addressed to the Secretary of National Food Security. Dated March 25, 2024, the letter from the Punjab government urged the immediate halt of wheat imports totaling 2.6 million tonnes.

Despite Punjab’s directive to cease wheat imports, the federal government proceeded to import a staggering 8.5 million tons of wheat. The letter from Punjab’s Food Secretary highlighted concerns over the already alarming import figure of 3.4 million tons and the potential surplus it could create in the market.

With Punjab boasting substantial wheat stocks of 2.2 million tons and an expansion in wheat production area and estimates, the influx of imported wheat threatens to disrupt the delicate balance of supply and demand, plunging farmers into a financial crisis.

The letter further emphasized the contrast with Punjab’s wheat procurement efforts last year, amounting to 4 million tons, raising concerns over market equilibrium and farmer welfare. Additionally, Punjab’s significant wheat stock, valued at Rs 80 billion, poses a financial burden compounded by accruing interest, necessitating decisive action to mitigate economic strain and ensure sustainable agricultural practices.

Furthermore, the discrepancy between Punjab’s efforts to procure wheat last year, amounting to 4 million tons, and the inundation of imported wheat in the market raises concerns over the effective utilization of resources and the impact on local farmers.

This situation not only threatens the livelihoods of farmers but also jeopardizes the stability of the agricultural sector, which plays a vital role in Pakistan’s economy. Urgent measures are needed to address the imbalances in wheat procurement and distribution, ensuring fair market conditions and adequate support for farmers to sustain their livelihoods.

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