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Pakistan wheat shortage: People fight over flour sacks in markets; minister says crisis can worsen further

Pakistan wheat shortage: People fight over flour sacks in markets; minister says crisis can worsen further

Pakistan crisis: Several videos of people fighting over wheat sacks and people protesting on the streets for food have surfaced on social media platforms. Wheat and flour-loaded mini trucks can be seen escorted by armed guards to avoid clashes with beneficiaries.

People buy flour sacks from a truck in Pakistan. Photo: Reuters People buy flour sacks from a truck in Pakistan. Photo: Reuters

Pakistan food crisis: Pakistan is currently staring at one of its worst food crises in years. The country is reportedly facing a shortage of wheat grain in different parts of the country, local media reports have stated. Since last week, there has been a major shortage of wheat flour in different regions such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces, where the current rates are as high as PKR 3,000 per bag (1 Pakistani Rupee equals 0.36 Indian Rupee). 

This has led to agitations on the streets of Pakistan from low-income groups.  As per a report in The Express Tribune, people, mainly in the low-income group, are forced to stand for hours in long queues for subsidised supply of wheat flour. There is a severe shortage of wheat in the retail market. Prices of other food items and essential items have skyrocketed in the country. 
Several videos of people fighting over wheat sacks and people protesting on the streets for food have surfaced on social media platforms. Wheat and flour-loaded mini trucks can be seen escorted by armed guards to avoid clashes with beneficiaries. 

The Express Tribune report stated that Zamarak Achakzai, one of the ministers in the Balochistan province, has said that the food crisis in his province might worsen further in the coming weeks as the wheat stocks of some regions have completely exhausted. 


People have asked the government to intervene and control inflation, and have said there is total mismanagement both by the food department and flour mills. 

Worsening economic situation 

Pakistan’s economy is in a shambles after it was hit by the floods of 2022 that led to unprecedented damage to the country. Pakistan’s infrastructure and food supply were badly hit, and millions were displaced. As per the estimates shared by the Pakistan government, the floods destroyed more than 2 million homes and caused more than $30 billion in damage.  

This has led to very high inflation and very low foreign exchange reserves. Global lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reportedly refused to disperse any further funds to the country  

This coupled with the ongoing political crisis in the country has led to a fall in the value of the Pakistan Rupee.  Pakistan has been seeking financial aid from allies like China and Saudi Arabia, and has also requested other international agencies for funds. 

Pakistan PM Shahbaz Sharif, who is in Geneva to attend the ‘International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan', said on Wednesday that some of the world's institutions have pledged $9.7 billion to help rebuild Pakistan.  

He added that the Saudi government has indicated that it will invest $10 billion in Pakistan apart from depositing $2 billion with the country's central bank, which can boost Pakistan's fragile economy for now at least. 

Published on: Jan 12, 2023, 11:02 AM IST
Posted by: Basudha Das, Jan 12, 2023, 10:55 AM IST