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Muhammad Rizwan

PakTribune Columnist

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Wheat export increases prices in local market Muhammad Rizwan

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M.Saeed

Pakistan

26 September, 2007

Where goes the surplus?

Reading this story prompted me to get hold of my calculator and do some basic calculations. Our annual wheat production is 23.5 million tons, which at 28 Maunds per ton makes 658 million Maunds. Dividing this amount with our population of 160 million gives an annual per capita production of 4.11 Mounds, or roughly 164.4 seers, or about 160 kg. Remember this figure counts infants, young and old, all equal. I have a family of 5 members who are all adults and we use an average, 72 kg of wheat flour per head, annually. I know poor people consume more, therefore I did similar calculation for the family of my house helps. Their average, due to some minors in their family, came to even less than 72 kg. per head. Even if we take an average consumption of 80 kg per head annually, which is exactly half of our total annual per capita production, we should have a surplus of 11.75 million tons of wheat ! And, consuming 80 kg per annum by a single person, infants included, is not a joke because it amounts to almost a full conventional gunny bag, or 4 large (20kg.) bags of wheat flour per head annually. But, the Government tells us stories about shortages. My simple conclusion is, we are smuggling more wheat to our neighbours than we consume ourselves. I have done similar calculations about sugar, oil and tea also and startling discrepancies have emerged, which can be easily cross checked on these lines by any one. Conclusion? We are definitely not sincere to ourselves.

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