Sufficient stocks available, minister assures nation

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STAFF REPORT

ISLAMABAD

Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research, KhusroBakhtiar Monday said that sufficient food stocks were available in the country, advising the people not to go for panic-buying and hoarding.

The minister was addressing a press conference along with Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yusuf, Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza.

The minister said that sufficient stocks of almost all food commodities were available in the county, so the people should not go for panic buying or purchase edible commodities for hoarding. He said that the prices of edible oil, ghee and pulses would further come down in the months of April and May.

Talking about the existing stock position, the minister said that currently there were 1.8 million tons of wheat stocks available in the country whereas stocks of edible oil, ghee, potatoes, onions, pulses, poultry, livestock and diary and other basic edibles were also sufficient for consumption.

The Minister said against the consumption of 3.5 million tons rice, Pakistan was producing around 7 million tons of rice. Likewise, Pakistan was producing around 4.4 million tons of potato, whereas there were around 75 thousand tons of edible oil available.

He said that this year the government would procure 8.2 million tons of wheat at the cost of Rs288 billion. He said that this year the procurement target would be doubled adding that procurement form Sindh would start from Tuesday, March 24.

Yusuf said overseas Pakistani should avoid visiting Pakistan till April 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the country.

“However, the Pakistani embassy has been contacted to stop them in Turkey and provide accommodation. Some of the overseas are also coming from Qatar who will reach the country by night hours,” he added.

The SAPM noted that this was done in the wake of preventive measures taken to contain the outbreak. He urged the overseas to stay in their respective countries and avoiding visiting Pakistan.

NDMA chief said around 125 tonnes of procured goods comprising medical equipment, safety masks, ventilators, personal protective equipment and other necessary items would reach from China that would increase Pakistan’s capacity to fight coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak.

Chairman NDMA said the Authority had planned a three phase strategy to carry out preventive measures against the COVID-19 outbreak whereas in the first there were three main objectives to mainly ensure proper checking of foreigners and overseas Pakistanis coming to the country, detection of COVID-19 and ensure that they did not transfer virus to others.

He said initially 15 days were taken to make sure the above facilities at all the airports of the country and the major issue faced in this endeavour was lack of personal protective equipment for health workers.

“We planned to provide it to the health workers by April 5 whereas it would be supplied by 30 March.”

Zafar Mirza on urged people to stay at their homes for their own safety.

He congratulated nation on Pakistan Day celebrations, saying that each person should play his responsibility in this testing time.

He said, “We all are united to defeat coronavirus with determination and strong resolve.”

Dr Zafar said Coronavirus would not affect anyone unless you go out and bring itself to your home, adding that it was very important to stay at their homes.

He said that people should avoid shaking hands and wash hands repeatedly for 20 seconds.

The SAPM said that people should avoid outdoor movement and stay their homes, adding that in case people had to go out then they should avoid congested places.