Govt accused of seizing wheat to meet procurement target

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HYDRABAD: The farmers have blamed the provincial government for confiscating their wheat stocks kept for personal consumption and for seed for the next crop.

In the drive against hoarders and grain smugglers, the Sindh government officials, instead of conducting rids on the warehouses of big traders were picking of soft target – the grain stocks of small farmers, a representative body of growers said.

The Sindh Abadgar Ittehad (SAI), which lobbies for rights of the farmers, on Monday complained that the food authorities are raiding the storages of the growers instead of the traders who are involved in inter-district and inter-provincial smuggling of wheat.

Moreover, the officials, in a bid to meet the procurement target, are seizing the wheat stocks of growers as ‘smuggled’ and ‘hoarded’ grain, said SAI President Nawab Zubair Talpur.

He said that this season the wheat growers have preferred to sell wheat in the open market instead of Sindh government due to better rates for the produce.

Traders are handed cheques at government procurement, whereas open market traders pay hard cash for the produce on the spot, Talpur said, adding, therefore farmers prefer to sell to the private sector.

The Sindh government had set a target of procuring 1.4 million tons of wheat at the price of Rs4,000 per maund or 40kgs. However, the private sector buyers were paying Rs200 to Rs300 above the official procurement rates, he said.

According to him, the government is supposed to take action against traders who buy wheat from one district and sell it in another district or province against the law. Instead, in an apparent attempt to meet its target of procuring 1.4 million tons wheat, the government is confiscating legally owned and stored wheat from the agriculturists.

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