Pakistan is yet again facing a major food crisis as prices of wheat flour has shot up to as high as PKR 75 per kilogram at several retail stores in the country. According to reports, Pakistan is facing a severe shortage of wheat flour, especially in the North-West part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where an 85-kilo bag of wheat flour is selling at PKR 5,200 while a 20-kg bag is selling at PKR 1,100.
Reportedly, in Multan, people are forced to buy wheat flour for more than PKR 60 as there has been an artificial scarcity. The roti sellers (nanbais) in KP have gone on a strike after their negotiations with the government failed. In other cities of Punjab including Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala, the wheat is being sold at PKR 70 per kg.
According to Pakistan govt sources, a recent transporters strike is the main reason behing the crisis as the mills didn’t get wheat on time. While the millers say that there has been a massive increase in wheat consumption by at poultry or animal feed mills, causing the shortage.
The govt of Pakistan has decided to import 300,000 tonnes of wheat to ease the pressure on supply of the commodity.
In addition to that, a serious case of sugar shortage has also emerged in Pakistan amidst the wheat crisis. Sugar prices in Pakistan have shot up to as high as PKR 64 a kilo. Over the past week, the wholesale rate rose from PKR 64 to PKR 74 per kg and an acute shortage surfaced in the country.
The prices of bread are also now ranging more than PKR 12-15 apiece. The sellers have increased prices of Roti and Naan following wheat and gas price skyrocketed in the country, overburdening the middle and lower-middle classes due to unchecked rise.
It is learnt that Roti prices have jumped from Rs 5 to Rs 10 to Rs 15 and Naan prices from Rs 15 to Rs 25 in the market. The Tandoor owners said the government had increased gas tariff and they were unable to afford Roti and Naan at old rates.
Justifying the rates, Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid on Saturday gave a bizarre explanation for the recent wheat shortage and price hike in the country. “In December and November, people eat more bread than usual,” the minister said at a press conference. “It’s not a joke, a study backs my claims,” he replied when reporters burst into laughter after his peculiar explanation.
Last year in July, Pakistan had faced a similar food crisis in the country and the Prime Minister of the country Imran Khan had to chair a cabinet meeting to decide on the gas tariffs for tandoors and prices of roti and naan.