Pakistanis get democracy, but have no roti

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Islamabad, Apr 10 : Wheat production in Pakistan is likely to plummet as farmers will be cultivating less of the grain after fertilizers' cost soared in that country.

According to the country's Ministry of Agriculture, the production of wheat in the country would be at 22 million metric tons, two million tons less that its October estimate. The usage of fertilizer in the country has dropped drastically with a 44 per cent rise in its prices.

In March this year, Pakistan's Wheat Commissioner Shakeel Ahmed Khan has said that if the environment is conducive for wheat cultivation, the production would decline and Pakistan would have to import it.

The situation has worsened more with smugglers taking wheat into neighboring Afghanistan where they can fetch double price of the grain.

On March 29, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had announced a 23 percent increase in the government procurement price.

"The wheat support price is being increased from 510 rupees to 625 rupees (9.9 dollar)," Gilani had said.

The Pakistan Government is planning to build a five-million-tone strategic reserve from the 2007-08 crops.

Pakistan, the world's sixth-largest wheat producer, witnessed increase in wheat and flour prices in the domestic market after a shortage in September and had to import nearly 1.6 million tones.

Pakistan, which has population of around 160 million people, consumes about 22 million tones of wheat a year.

According to officials, the government will have to import one to two million tones of wheat to maintain stocks and domestic needs.

ANI

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