Skyrocketing prices have exacerbated Pakistan’s flour crisis

Many parts of Khyber Panhunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan provinces have reported wheat shortages and stampedes as some parts of the country face the worst flour crisis.

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan is facing its worst ever flour crisis, with parts of the country reporting wheat shortages and stampedes from parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

According to a report in The Express Tribune, thousands of people spend hours every day to get subsidized bags of flour, which is already in short supply in the market. There are often scenes of chaos as people gather around the push vehicles as mini trucks and vans sent by armed guards distribute flour. Many clashes between flour sellers and tandoors are reported
Wheat and flour prices have skyrocketed amid the ongoing crisis in Pakistan, The Express Tribune reported.

Flour is being sold from Rs 140 per kg to Rs 160 per kg in Karachi. In Islamabad and Peshawar, a 10 kg bag of flour is being sold at Rs 1,500 per kg, while a 20 kg bag of flour is being sold at Rs 2,800. Mill owners in Punjab province have hiked flour prices by Rs 160 per kg.

Balochistan’s food minister Zamarak Achakzai said the province’s wheat stocks were “totally exhausted.” He said Balochistan needed 400,000 bags of wheat immediately and warned that otherwise, the crisis could worsen.
Similarly, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is facing the worst flour crisis as a 20 kg bag of flour is being sold at Rs 3100 after the government failed to control the fixed price, reported The News International.

One person was killed in a stampede in Mirpurkhas during the sale of subsidized flour to the people of the Sindh government, the Express Tribune reported. The death occurred near the commissioner’s office when two vehicles carrying 200 bags each were selling flour outside Gulistan-e-Baldia Park.
People gathered around the vehicles jostled each other for bags as mini-trucks sold bags of flour of 10 kg each at Rs 65 per kg.

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Police said 40-year-old laborer Har Singh Kolhi fell on the road in the chaos and was trampled by bystanders. According to the Express Tribune, Kolhi’s family has demanded action against the Food Department officials.
Similar chaos was witnessed in other parts of Sindh where flour was being sold from mini trucks or vans. Two women and a minor girl were injured in a stampede outside a flour mill in Sakrand town of Shaheed Benazirabad while buying flour at government rates.
Residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have complained of shortage of wheat flour and appealed to the government to end the crisis and provide subsidized flour, VOA Diva said in a tweet.

A resident of Peshawar revealed that people including the poor and the rich are worried about wheat flour as per the tweet. Residents added that a person can buy flour only once a week.

The News International reported that people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were angry after Tandoor also hiked the prices of bread. All bakery items except bread are being sold at high prices.
According to a report by The News International, thousands of people have to spend hours every day to get the subsidized bags, which are already in short supply. According to the Express Tribune, the prices of all food items and other commodities have gone up in the last few years and the governments have not taken any measures to control the situation.

In the past week, there have been several clashes between flour sellers and tandoors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the price issue. A few days ago, a traveler was killed in Pishtakhara after two locals clashed with the tandoor owner over the price of bread and fired at him. Many people were injured while distributing subsidized flour.

The Express Tribune reported that sources have explained that the wheat crisis in Pakistan is due to the tussle between the Center and the Punjab government. Sources added that the Punjab Food Department could not accurately estimate how much wheat it would need to import.

Meanwhile, Balochistan’s food minister Zamarak Achakzai has revealed that wheat stocks in the province are “totally exhausted.” He stressed that the commodity crisis in Balochistan is “intensifying”, The Express Tribune reported.
Speaking at a press conference, Zamrak Achakzai said that Balochistan did not get the required supply of wheat. He said Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi had promised to send the entire stock. However, he did not fulfill his promise.
Addressing a press conference on the issue, Zamarak Achakzai said that Balochistan has not received the required stock of wheat. He said Balochistan depends on Punjab and Sindh for 85 percent of its wheat and both provinces have banned the export of the commodity.

“Out of 200,000 bags of wheat, 10,000 bags have been received,” The Express Tribune quoted Zamrak Achakzai as saying. “They had requested the Punjab Chief Minister to send 600,000 sacks,” he added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by HW News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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