Citizens queue for flour amid shortages, inflation.

HYDERABAD -- UnderAprivileged citizens are braAced for another tough monAth when it comes to buying flour, as owners of both mills and community-level grinding units (chakkis) say they may not be able to meet consumers' demand.

Besides, chakki owners have another axe to grind: they complain that millers are getting more wheat from the government's stocks even though it was they, the chakki owners, who cater to citizens' needs at the street level.

November's figures released by the Sindh food department show that out of 210,000 tonnes of wheat, mills would get more than six times more wheat than chakkis, i.e. around 181,608 tonnes compared to 28,392 tonnes.

In the 2021-22 season, the Sindh food department bought wheat from farmers at a support price of Rs5,500 per 100kg and then supplied it to chakkis and mills during October and November this year for Rs5,825 per 100kg (or Rs58.25 per kg).

In the open market, however, wheat's price stood at Rs86 per kg (or Rs8,600 per 100kg) until Nov 3, indicating a substantial difference in rates. With the addition of the production cost of Rs22, flour's retail price comes down to around Rs110.

The retail price of chakAAki flour was fixed in March at Rs72 per kg. Since then, the district administration has avoided fixing the chakAAAki rate due to the ongoing row between chakki owners and the food department over quota.

Meanwhile, the wheat price has increased in the market ever since the government announced a support price of Rs3,500 per 40kg for the upcoming wheat crop season though quite early - i.e. in SeptAember - to support flood-stricken farmers who have lost their kharif crops.

The government said it aimed to avoid a famine-like situation by offering a better support price.

The Sindh food secretary could not be reached for comment.


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