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Pakistan flour crisis worsens; prices skyrocket amidst wheat shortage

 (FAST MAIL NEWS)-The price of wheat flour in Pakistan has been at a very high level for the past several weeks. Roti and naan are among the staple food items in pakistan and the steep rise in flour prices has put people in dire straits. Long queues can be seen to collect government subsidized flour. A stampede at one such distribution site in Sindh's Mirpur Khas claimed the life of a 35-year-old man on January 7.

The central and provincial governments have blamed each other for the crisis. Experts say this is due to long-standing shortages from the Russia-Ukraine war, the devastating floods of 2022 and wheat smuggling into Afghanistan. Meanwhile,a consignment of wheat from Russia has now reached Pakistan and some relief is expected in the coming weeks.

 

 In the two wheat producing states of Punjab and Sindh, flour is selling at around PKR 145/kg to PKR 160/kg. While prices have been higher in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. According to sources,the prices of 5 kg and 10 kg bags of flour in Pakistan have almost doubled compared to a year ago.In Islamabad and Rawalpindi  a naan is being sold for 30 Pakistani rupees while a roti is being sold for 25 Pakistani rupees.

What caused the crisis?

Pakistan imports wheat to meet its consumption needs, most of which comes from Russia and Ukraine. For example, according to data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), Pakistan imported $1.01 billion worth of wheat in 2020, the largest of which came from Ukraine ($496 million worth), followed by Russia ($394 million). . This year's war disrupted that supply, while last year's floods brought down domestic yields. The report said that the problem in Pakistan is more of distribution than insufficient stocks.

There was a massive increase in wheat prices in Sindh and Balochistan, as important reserves were lost due to floods. Smuggling of wheat in Afghanistan is also a factor, resulting in local shortages, driving up prices. 

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