PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — With parts of Pakistan dealing with a shortage of wheat in recent weeks, flour production and delivery has slowed, which has led to soaring flour prices and chaos, with Pakistani citizens standing in long lines in hopes of getting subsidized bags of flour that are in short supply, the Express Tribune of Pakistan reported.
The price of wheat flour, a key staple in the diet of Pakistanis, has skyrocketed amid the ongoing crisis. In Karachi, flour is being sold for Rs 140/kg-160/kg (US$1.71/kg-$1.96), according to the Express Tribune, while in Islamabad and Peshawar, a 10-kg bag of flour is being sold at Rs 1,500 ($18.36) and a 20-kg bag at Rs 2,800 ($34.27).
According to media reports, the worsening crisis, which reportedly has led to citizens fighting over bags of flour and at least one person getting trampled to death, stems from the government’s food department not properly estimating the amount of wheat that needed to be imported.
To address the wheat shortage, the Pakistani government recently announced it has reached wheat import deals with other countries, including a total of 750,000 tonnes of wheat from Russia. About 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat arrived on Jan. 9 at the Port of Qasim.
Pakistan, which for many years was self-sufficient in wheat, has imported several million tonnes of wheat the past two years and is forecast to import 3 million tonnes in the 2022-23 marketing year, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture.With the world’s fifth largest population at 231 million people and soaring population growth, Pakistan has seen wheat production stagnate in recent years because of climate change issues and the lack of investment in agriculture research.