Syed Ali Shah:
QUETTA: Food crisis intensified in Balochistan as the 20-kilogram bag price reached 2500 rupees on Saturday morning. The flour bag was earlier available at Rs.1500 in the open market in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan. “Flour mills are not providing supply”, Muhammad Akram, a flour dealer said.
Officials say the suspension of traffic between Balochistan and other parts of the country was the underlying reason behind the shortage of flour in the province. Flash floods unleashed by heavy rainfall swept away various portions of highways and roads linking Balochistan with Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
“The provincial government has decided to purchase 2,00,000 bags of 100kgs wheat from PASCO to overcome the crisis”, Zamarak Khan Achakzai, the Balochistan Food Minister informed. He said the provincial cabinet has already approved the purchase of 6,45,000 bags of 100kgs wheat from the Punjab government.
Naseerabad division remains underwater
Naseerabad division, the green belt of Balochistan remains underwater for the last two weeks. Floods have destroyed standing crops in the green belt producing wheat and other crops. “The government failed to purchase wheat from Naseerabad division timely”, a well-placed official in the food department told Daily Quetta Voice.
He requested anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Skyrocketing prices of flour compounded the problems of poor and flood-affected people across the province, lagging behind all provinces in terms of key social indicators. “I cannot purchase flour since its price abruptly increased”, Muhammad Ejaz Awan, a young man working on a petrol pump on Quetta’s Airport road said.
Flour shops give a deserted look
“I cannot meet these growing expenses”, Mr. Awan lamented.
Flour shops were giving a deserted look in Quetta’s Kandahri Bazar and other areas. The dealers say it was very difficult to purchase supplies from mills. “There are long queues outside mills”, Syed Khudaidad Agha, the President of the Flour Shopkeepers Association said.
With crops, livestock, and agricultural land damaged or destroyed, Balochistan will struggle to feed itself.