KARACHI, PAKISTAN: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has rejected the government’s claims that wheat crop size is 23.5 million tonnes describing it on the higher side and totally incorrect.
Zulfikar Thaver, President UNISAME said, “Unfortunately, we do not have a scientific system of crop estimation and the government is fond of exaggerating figures.” He added that even the Canadian Wheat Board had assessed it lower than the ministry’s figures.
Meanwhile, Abdul Majeed Gaziani, an expert on wheat, said that the cause for the crisis is that the feed industry consumed a handsome quantity of one million tonnes of wheat. He said this is for the first time in Pakistan that the feed industry had utilised about one million tonnes of wheat, being the cheapest available commodity in Pakistan as compared to the substitutes of rice, corn and other commodities.
He added that dispatches of about six million tonnes of wheat and flour from Pakistan to Afghanistan is counted every year; however, this year seven million tonnes of wheat has been exported to Afghanistan because of heavy demand. Moreover, about 300,000 tonnes of wheat flour has gone to Iran, he added. UNISAME experts say, this year the government allowed export of wheat and in consequence, about 3,75,000 tons of wheat was exported by private sector. Almost 50% of the wheat exported was from new crop.
They said annual consumption of Pakistan is 20.15 million tons on the basis of 126 kg per person. They indicated that government counts one million ton minimum as a carryover stock every year. Last year it was low, about 3, 50,000 tons, because the government was expecting bumper crop.
The Union placed the figures as under: Wheat balance sheet: Opening balance: 3, 50,000 tons, Crop 2007: 23,000,000 tons, Total in hand: 23,350,000 tons, Annual usage: 20,150,000 tons, Feed Industry consumed 1,000,000 tons, Dispatches through Afghan and Iran Border: 1,000,000 tons, Further usage by feed Industry: 400,000 tons, Minimum reserve: 1,000,000 tons, Deficit: 2,50,000 tons.