Flour crisis – no end in sight

The Post | 21 July 2008
Flour crisis – no end in sight
Kaswar Klasra

ISLAMABAD: Owing to the government's failure to overcome the flour crisis a 20kg flour bag is selling at Rs 550 in the open market.

The soaring prices of foodstuffs have disturbed household budgets, and there is a storm of public indignation at the government's failure to mark down the prices of staple foods.

The government announced several times in the media that it will curb rising food inflation but it has failed to come up with a solid strategy.

The government has not filled the portfolio of Food and Agriculture which shows how serious it is about mitigating people's miseries.

A 20kg flour bag is being sold at Rs 400 at utility stores across the country. But only a small number of people benefit from this facility due to a shortage of utility stores. Pakistan is on the list of 35 countries which, according to the World Bank, are facing a grave food crisis.

Sources said the UAE was planning to buy farms in Pakistan and introduce modern farming, which could increase yields and help overcome the food crisis. Sources said the UAE businessmen were considering buying large land holdings and importing food items from Pakistan at 20-25 percent less cost.

"We believe that if we get products directly from the farms, it will encourage market competition," officials said, adding that similar plans in other countries were also under study. "The talks have been going on between the Pakistan government and the UAE's Ministry of Economy for almost four months now, however, no concrete decision has been made yet," the officials told The Post Sunday. The UAE's 4.5 million population relies heavily on imported food, spending $3.5 to $4 billion annually on imports.

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