As the price of wheat (atta and flour) reaches Rs75 per kilogram (kg) — the highest price recorded in Pakistan’s history — amid shortage, we have to ask: what is this crisis and what led to it?
The crisis is huge because it hits a daily essential. Roti, bread, naans and puris, you name it, everything with any bit of flour or wheat in it is going to be affected, and prices are rising.
What happened? A country that is rich in wheat production, exports millions of tonnes of wheat itself is now in a massive wheat shortage?
It all started from projection vs. reality.
It all started from the government projecting that the wheat production of 2018-2019 would be 25.2 million tonnes, which would be sufficient for the year. Pakistan also exports wheat and because the projected wheat crop was high, the country exported, 640,000 tonnes. Pakistan was supposed to export between 200,000 to 400,000 tonnes.
The crisis began when Pakistan did not meet its projected figure. It produced 24.7 million tonnes due to bad management, poor coordination and the weather.
So now all provinces are racing to save their stock. Punjab has imposed a ban on moving wheat to other provinces and reportedly, people who want to profit from the shortage, are hoarding the wheat to sell at a later stage when prices increase.
The federal government is blaming the provinces for the shortage, primarily the Sindh government (Sindh is also the only province which is not under PTI rule) saying that the Sindh government bought a lot of wheat at the wrong time. The Sindh government is saying that Imran Khan is responsible because he allowed the extra wheat to be exported.
The next few months are going to be crucial for wheat. The price of wheat used to be around Rs45-50 per kg and is now Rs75. The government is now having to import wheat from other countries to make up for the shortage, and Twitter is not happy about it.
The difficult news is that the wheat that we exported for around Rs24/kg, is now going to be imported for more than double the price.