Spiralling flour crisis.

THE current flour crisis has been looming on the horizon for several months. Concerns were being expressed ever since the last domestic wheat harvest fell far short of expectations as well as the country's consumption requirements.

The catastrophic summer floods exacerbated the situation as the wheat stocks in the flood-hit areas were badly damaged. Balochistan on Saturday said the province was left with just enough wheat inventory to last it another few days as its food minister issued an emergency call for immediate help.

The situation in the other provinces isn't very different as far as the common people are concerned. In Sindh's Mirpurkhas district, the death of a man in a stampede that broke out among a large crowd of poor people that had gathered to buy subsidised flour is indicative of the shape of things to come.

Punjab and Sindh are not allowing their wheat and flour to cross their borders as alleged by Balochistan. Flour millers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also complained of less wheat supplies from Punjab which grows over 70pc of the nation's wheat. The federal government is also blaming the provinces, especially Punjab, for the crisis.

The Minister for National Food Security and Research, Mr Tariq Bashir Cheema, had last week claimed there was no shortage of wheat as all the provinces had sufficient stocks but were not releasing the grain (to the flour mills). Punjab has since increased the wheat quota of flour mills from its stocks to ease shortages in the province.

The increased supply of subsidised wheat to the mills should help ease flour shortages in...

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