According to the data released by the government of Pakistan, the production of wheat in the country has increased by 5.5% despite climate change. However, despite this increase, people are still forced to buy flour at expensive prices.
The Department of Agriculture has reported that wheat production during the current fiscal year has reached a record high of 276 lakh tonnes, compared to the previous year’s production of 262.18 lakh tonnes. Although there has been an increase in production, the general public and experts reject the possibility of flour prices falling, as the demand in the country exceeds the production.
Liaquat Ali Yousafzai, the spokesperson for the farmers’ organization in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, acknowledged the increase in wheat production but stated that it is not sufficient to make the country self-sufficient. While there has been a slight increase in wheat yield per acre compared to last year, it is not proportional to the population. Yousafzai warned that a wheat crisis may arise in the future.
Regarding the production and requirement of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Yousafzai mentioned that the annual wheat production in the province is 1.3 million metric tons, while the requirement is 45 to 48 million metric tons. Additionally, the floods that occurred in August last year further affected food production in the province.
The Economic Survey of Pakistan indicates a continuous increase in wheat production over the years. However, despite natural calamities, the recent increase in production can be attributed to favorable weather conditions during the harvesting period.
Yousafzai expressed concern that the increase in production may not benefit the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to mismanagement and fluctuations in wheat prices. He highlighted that during the wheat harvest, the price per maund (40 kilograms) of wheat reached Rs. 6,500, but when wheat was exported from Russia, the price dropped to Rs. 5,500. This situation created a shortage of wheat sellers in the market. He emphasized the need for establishing a canal system in southern districts to improve wheat production.
Environmental experts attribute the decrease in wheat production last year to climate change. However, this year the weather has been relatively normal, leading to an increase in yield. Despite the increase in production, mismanagement and hoarding contribute to the recurring wheat crisis.
Flour prices in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are reported to be higher than in Punjab. The Federal Institute of Statistics has confirmed the increase in flour prices in the country. The latest report from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics reveals that the price of flour in May this year has increased by 99% compared to May 2022.
The rising prices of flour have burdened the general public, as essential commodities become more difficult to afford. Despite claims of increased wheat production, individuals like Farooqullah, a daily wage laborer, have experienced the impact of higher prices on their livelihoods.
Farooqullah expresses his concerns about the future and questions the benefit of increased wheat production if prices continue to rise. He emphasizes the importance of price committees at the local level to regulate prices and ensure that the benefits of increased production reach the people.