PASSCO set to launch wheat procurement campaign 2011

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LAHORE – The Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) is all set to launch ‘Wheat Procurement Campaign 2011’ from the last week of April. The corporation has fixed a wheat procurement target of 1.3 million tonnes out of the national wheat procurement target of 6.5 million tonnes set by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MINFA). PASSCO Managing Director Major General Sohail Shafqat unveiled the wheat procurement programme while addressing members of the Agriculture Journalists Association (AJA) here on Thursday. He said the PASSCO bifurcated its target as 1.26 million tonnes of wheat that would be procured from Punjab and the rest from Sindh.
He added that wheat procurement would be made in Balochistan to demand availability of funds on the part of the respective provincial food department. The PASSCO had already set up zonal office in Dera Allah Yar having 14 purchase centres in Nasirabad, Jafarabad and Jhal Magzi districts. While in 15 tehsils of Punjab that are Hafizabad, Pindi Bhattian, Gojra, Okara (including Renala), Pakpattan, Burewala, Mailsi, Mian Channu, Lodhran, Kehrorpacca, Bahawalnagar, Minchanabad, Alipur (including Jatoi), Khanpur and Layyah, the PASSCO would run wheat procurement drive.
In addition, three tehsils of Sindh namely Sobo Dero, Kandiaro and Sakrand would also be targeted during the wheat procurement campaign.
The PASSCO chief told AJA that the corporation had established 176 wheat procurement centres in Punjab, 11 in Sindh and 14 in Balochistan. It would procure wheat at the official rate of Rs 950 per maund (40 kilograms) as announced by the government, he added. He said the corporation had finalised negotiations with a consortium of banks to finance the wheat procurement campaign as it required Rs 34 billion to procure the target quantity.
The PASSCO had estimated carryover wheat stocks of one million tones, in addition to the procurement from the current crop. Thus it would have a total of 2.3 million tonnes of wheat at the end of procurement drive 2011, he further said and added that as per the policy, the corporation had to maintain 0.5 million tonnes of strategic reserve and another 40,000 tonnes for SAARC Food Bank. He said gunny bags had been made available at all procurement centres that would be distributed among farmers on fair and equitable basis.
He added that monitoring committees had also been constituted at centre level to ensure transparency during the whole campaign. Talking about the rice stocks, the PASSCO chief said that the corporation had already sold out rice procured during 2009-10. However, some 40,000 tonnes of rice from the crop 2008-09 was still in its stores that would also be disposed off soon, he added. He said the PASSCO had to incur on average Rs 10,000 loss against each tonne of rice owing to the gap between procurement and selling price.