Magazine article Economic Review

Bulk Handling of Wheat by PASSCO/Food Department in Punjab: An Economic Analysis

Magazine article Economic Review

Bulk Handling of Wheat by PASSCO/Food Department in Punjab: An Economic Analysis

Article excerpt


Wheat holds significant position in Pakistan's economy as it is the staple food of almost the entire population. The government's role in the wheat economy has grown over time. The share of total wheat production procured by government marketing agencies has substantially increased over time. It is estimated to represent 60-70% of the marketed surplus from the farm sector.

In Pakistan wheat is mainly handled and stored in bag form. The bulk wheat handling and storage system was introduced by STD (Storage Technology Development and Transfer) Programme of USAID in collaboration with the Punjab Food Department and PASSCO. After running this programme for about five years, they have handed over the bulk handling equipment to the Punjab Food Department and the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. The university is conducting research on various aspects of post harvest handling of wheat to draw out successful plans. The paper focuses on economic feasibility of the bulk wheat handling system according to our local conditions.

Research Methodology

The Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (PASSCO) and the Punjab Food Department (PFD) procure, store and distribute wheat. The PASSCO purchases wheat in bags and also distributes it in bags to the provinces of NWFP and Balochistan. It stores wheat in bulk in open bulkheads and silos, in bulk cure bags in some house type godowns, and in bags in house type godowns and "Gungies". The Food Department also procures and distributes wheat to the flour mills in bags. It stores wheat in all types of stores given above and also in bulk in hexbins and in bag cure bulk and bags in binishells.

The employees handling wheat at Jhang city, Chak Kuriana (Distt. Jhang), Sahiwal city, Okara, Musa Virk (Distt. Khanewal), Khanewal city and Multan, of the Food Department, and at Okara, Depalpur (Distt. Okara), Chichawatni (Distt. Sahiwal), and Musa Wirk of PASSCO, were interviewed to get their views about the bag and bulk handling systems of wheat. Personal interview method was used to conduct these interviews. High officials involved in planning and implementation, of PASSCO and Food Department, were also interviewed. Sargodha Jute Mills, Sheikhupura and Crescent Jute products, Jaranwala were taken to inquire about the size of bag and bale being made by the jute mills.

Results and Discussion

The public sector has about 4.3 million tons of covered wheat storage, plus seasonal amounts of temporary outdoor storage (Table 1). The prospect of bulk handling and storage of wheat in Punjab was dependent on social, economic and political factors. 3 of 5 types of covered storage were in bulk form while some storage may be filled to overflowing, a good share of public sector storage remains under utilized. This was because some of it was totally depreciated or obsolete and unsuited for storage. Other storage was in the wrong place due to changing production patterns, shifting population and urbanization etc Another cause of under utilization was the shifting of procurement territories between the Food Department and PASSCO. They did not use the same locations each year.


Various Types of Public Sector Wheat Storage

                                   (000 tonnes)

House type
Godown (HTG)               =      2938 (68.8%)
Bini-Shell                 =       615 (14.4%)
Hex-bins                   =        295 (6.9%)
Silos                      =         260(6.1%)
Bulkheads                  =        160 (3.7%)
Open Storage                            10000-
(Ganji)                           2,000 tonnes
(Seasonal Storage)         =             (.1%)

Public Sector Wheat Storage Systems

At present 90 percent of all wheat stored in bulk comes from bags. The stored wheat is re-bagged before its shifting to main distribution chain.

The main storage structure is the house type godown (HTG). …

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