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Food Inflation In Pakistan: Causes And Policy

Inflation and its options. In Pakistan, inflation is measured by three indicators: the Consumer price index, General price index and the Sensitive Price indicator.

Consumer Price Index or CPI is the main measure gives an over-all representation of the inflation in the country. About 374 items are included in this list. It measures cost changes associated with these items.

Wholesale Price Index or WPI presents the directional actions of prices in the inexpensive markets. Items protected in the series are those that could be precisely defined and can be found in a lot by companies/manufacturers. These profile to 425 items.

Sensitive Price Signal or SPI is computed on regular basis to determine the price movements of essential goods at brief intervals to be able to review the purchase price situation in the country. SPI includes 53 items which derive from the staple diet of the united states.


Inflation in Pakistan in the last two decades

Gone are the days and nights when food on its own was considered as a cheap resource & most people could manage at least the basic commodities necessary for their survival. The meals crises inside our country isn't only an area phenomena but it can, to a certain extent, be attributed to soaring food prices internationally, particularly during the last year. This, in conjunction with ineffective, myopic coverage measures by the government has powered millions below the poverty line. Rising food prices was a major factor in traveling up inflation between 2007 and mid 2008. Essentially the most appalling thing about food price inflation is that it is the most regressive of all taxes, hurting the poor and fixed income group the most.

Starting with inflation in double digits in the 90's, the true pressure came in the 1994-1995 when inflation proceeded to go up by 13%, due mainly to extremely high food inflation of 16. 5%. However, from then on, there was a reliable dip in the entire inflation with food inflation falling below the buyer Price Index (CPI) between 1999-2002. This was because of a better supply position, rigid budgetary measures and frustrated international market segments.

From then on, mainly because of higher whole wheat support prices, shortages of wheat and a growth in international prices including oil has pressed the inflation back again up again, with food inflation going as high as 12% in 2004-2005. It dropped again to solo digit in 2005-2006 but has climbed at surprising levels since then. The meals inflation average was minimum between 1998-2000 and the food inflation number is around 7. 5%.

However, eight of the most notable ten commodities adding to the entire CPI inflation, were from the meals group, possessing a weighted contribution of 38. 3 percent in overall inflation. These items were fresh dairy, meat, fruit and vegetables, wheat flour, sweets, readymade food, tomatoes, and tea. Of the, four components of food group; fresh milk, meat, vegetables, and whole wheat flour contributed 71. 7 percent to CPI food inflation (YoY)

Inflation in the last 5 years

Inflation in Pakistan within the last five years has been sky rocketing. The next graphs have been attracted after collecting prices from the business enterprise Recorder taken at a six month interval time. (An in depth list of prices is fastened in the appendix of the statement)

In the abpve diagram, Cereals include items: makai, juwar, moong Punjab, barley sindh and Whole wheat Pak whereas Sweets includes sugar and Gur. All the goods contain their sub types.

In these diagram, the average prices include: Cereals includes 5 different items namely Makai, Juwar, Moong Punjab, barley Sindh and wheat Pak; Glucose includes Sweets and Gur; Complete rice includes Irri 6 Sindh, Basmati 386 new and Sela karnal new; Busted rice includes Irri white and Basmati; Rapeseed 40kg prices of Nawabshah and Dadulane types scaled to 100 kg and Castor seeds 40 kg prices of Lasbela new and Sindh types scaled to 100 kg prices

From the graphs, we can assess easily that generally, the average wholesale price range per 100 kg has increased significantly after January '08 from the common price range of Rs 1000-3000 to Rs 2000-5000. This is around a 70-100% increase in the average food prices during the last 2 years. It has brought in regards to a 35-50% time on season with Whole Rice price even touching Rs 7000 make in July 2008. The average sugar price in addition has gone up significantly creating sweetened items in the retail market to be beyond the normal people's reach.

Therefore, our statement will examine on the sources of these escalating food prices, focusing specifically on the last five years and can also examine the impact of the food inflation on various segments of the contemporary society during this time period. We may also be assessing various food procedures in order to cope up with this ever before growing problem in the developing overall economy of Pakistan

Causes of Food inflation

This section is covered in three categories:

Causes for surge in food prices in general

Despite the fact that Pakistan has been blessed with all the current natural resources such as a cultivable land, a hardworking labour make and the right environment for the creation of variety of plants, a number of domestic and international factors are causing food prices to escalate. A few of these factors are examined below.

Although Pakistan derives fifty per cent of its energy needs from natural gas, yet due to increasing energy demand, the country has to import oil to satisfy this gap. There's been a style of increasing essential oil prices in the last few years globally. A rise in essential oil prices increases the price tag on making fertilizers that are needed for increasing the produce per hectare of the crop. Hence, a growth in cost of fertilizer translates into rise in cost of crop

Not only that, growing fuel prices raise the electricity costs and therefore, farmers using tractors and tube wells need to pay an increased cost for using the machinery. Pakistan has a prospect of using hydroelectric vitality but anticipated to interprovincial disputes, this solution is not achieved. Vehicles costs also go up as fuel costs increase.

Various other international factors have brought on an increasing food prices internationally. International food inflation creeps into Pakistan when it has to import these food items to complete the stomach of more than 160 million populations. This includes a move by many countries to swap biofuels set up for rising essential oil prices to ensure energy security in the country. Bio-fuel creation is seriously affecting the world grocery stores as its demand is leading to diverting grain to creation of biofuel, thus creating source shortages and increasing international food prices. Many other international factors such as price adjustments and export bans have harm the bonuses of the meals producers that have reduced world supply of food creation. Also, many people in the developed nations are now moving towards high end usage products such as beef, fish and are using pulses for feeding the pets or animals which creates shortages and drives up the costs. This international climb in world price, plus a weakening rupee has induced imported food inflation in Pakistan as well.

In addition, there are other domestic factors also accountable for this pattern of increasing prices. Pakistani farmers have outdated farming methods and have not resorted to modernization. Their risk averse attitude is although logical, yet, has disadvantaged agricultural outcome growth and therefore economy.

Government has also neglected the agricultural sector with insufficient facilities for the farmers to effectively market their products or even for preserving them for bridging shortages and surplus when there is a demand supply gap. This factor, along with inapt fiscal and monetary policies, has critically influenced the agricultural outcome. Growing politics unrest has further diverted the interest of the government which is paying more focus on fight and mitigate the terrorism in the united states. As remaining world is active fighting with other countries, Pakistani government is occupied sorting out their inner differences.

Also, politics play a soiled part in Pakistan as cartels are easily formed to control the market prices. Such profiteering activities, along with dark marketing and hoarding have further drowned the residents in the already knee-deep overflow of problem.

Causes for rise in sugar prices- The Sweets Crisis

We have all observed the tragedy of 18 women who were trying to get free hand bags of sugars dying in a stampede. This signifies the seriousness of the current sugar problems. Such horrific crises make us question about the potency of the regulatory body of the federal government. Various factors are dependable, most of which can be political.

As sugar has always been a hard field to administer, Pakistan's feudal lords try to benefit at the trouble of poor farmers. They may have always conquered politics and accomplish their selfish pursuits by easily moving on the higher prices of glucose to consumers

When governments try to intervene by importing sweets so that the prices stay in order, the mill owners who are mainly strong political results, use their impact which results in government imposing higher tariffs in so doing increasing the price tag on the imported sugar. Hence, domestic sugars prices do not come down.

Also, the trolley-owners who transfer sugarcane for the mill owners exploit farmers by requiring additional Rs 250-300 per trolley during cane shortage. To make things worse, an extra cost of Rs. 100 per day is paid by the mill owners for a delay in unloading the sugarcane at the gate combined with the provision of food and tea. This is because the additional time elapses, the low is the recoverable cane drink and hence higher is the millowner's profit when a guaranteed price is paid by the government. In this complete process, farmers and the final individuals are the ones who suffer

The International marketplaces also experienced an increase in the price of sugar credited to poor weather conditions in major glucose producing countries which includes Brazil and India. This automatically led to shortage of supply of sugar and the costs of sugar gone up as a result. The price movements in the international market experienced a direct effect on prices of Pakistan and aggravated the existing source issues.

Also, this season there is a shortfall in local production of the sugarcane crop. The federal government got no option but to arrange for imports. The importation of sweets was postponed because the vested-interest groupings used their undue impact and made huge earnings by charging exorbitant prices as there was shortage of glucose. The wait in importing sugars resulted not only in lack in the domestic market and poor availableness but also led to loss of foreign exchange, as by enough time glucose was procured in the international market, its price acquired soared.

Pakistan Sugar Mills Relationship was also involved in the creation of the sugar crisis. Khaled Mirza, Competition Commission rate Chairman told the marketing in November, 2009 that Pakistan Sugars Mills Connection has confessed manipulation to get sugars production and syndication. The connection violated competition ordinance and looked for court's rest under section39. Also, Mian Manzoor Wattoo, Federal Minister for Establishments and Production informed the multimedia in August 2009 that hoarding of glucose by the mill owners is the key reason behind recent sugar problems and discussions with the mill owners are underway to end the sugar problems. There are some mill owners who aren't providing the sweets to Trading Organization of Pakistan.

Causes for surge in wheat prices - the wheat crisis

The dawn of 2008 in the Musharraf era, bought with it, amidst much political turmoil (following the Bhutto assassination) another nail that hammered in the coffin. Early January, there was a heavy spike in the price tag on whole wheat; Pakistan's staple food crop. Supply shortages caused whole wheat prices to double from 15 to 30 rupees per kilogram in less than a week's time ; rendering much of the populace grief stricken and helpless, out on the streets. The shortage ultimately led to a wheat-producing country importing a great deal of wheat to cater to local demands.

The causes of the lack were numerous, and as in every situations, all stakeholders boldly confirmed their prowess in mud-slinging, and everyone place the blame to all or any but themselves. Let us have a look at the significant reasons that might have resulted in the turmoil.

The most popular reason given was the overall world food turmoil that was prevalent in those days. Definitely the entire world wheat shortages slightly contributed to the neighborhood turmoil but it was certainly not the only real reason, so that we will see, many other internal flaws acquired a very good major role to learn.

Firstly the first, crucial shortfall was on part of the authorities as they unreasonably overestimated the annual wheat yield and allowed 1. 6 million tons of whole wheat to be exported in the last year. The results were harming, as the genuine yield fell way brief and the thus a sizable supply gap got created as local demand could not be met by an extended shot.

Moreover, the favorite plan of subsidized food prices also enjoyed a significant role. In times of shortages, still the government made a decision to fix whole wheat prices well lacking the marketplace price which instigated the mill owners to hoard and accumulate stocks to improve the prices at which they thought they could easily get reasonable profits. The world selling price was around Rs 24 per kilogram however the retail price was place by the government at Rs 16 per kg. This also lead to the suppliers indulge in smuggling. The federal government did opt to keep an eye on this by placing armed forces around mills and warehouses but this was a shallow strategy which only did the trick temporarily.

So this bizarre whole wheat policy has injure the common farmer and the normal man to suffer from, and the benefactors being the middlemen, the flour mill professionals and the government officials who've connived their way in the smuggling rucket as well at the trouble of the commons.

Some specific activities by Musharraf though also resulted in this problems. Musharraf's desire to market and use the newly built Gwadar dock led to postponed travelling of the wheat from the remote areas of Balochistan to Punjab and other areas of the country. The new dock lacks the mandatory facilities for swift unloading of consignments, which greatly delayed supply of wheat imports, creating unneeded problems.

So all in all, the federal government was at the center point of the turmoil from the start (the other players joined up with in though in anticipated course), and it also failed to stabilize the problem soon after with misguided policies


The expression inflation might not exactly ring bells to the majority of illiterate folks of Pakistan but its profound and far reaching consequences may well not be stranger to the lives of several.

People on set incomes will be the worst subjects when food inflation strikes. Their spending electric power lowers which leaves reduced income to be allocated to other goods and services. In order to pay for the bigger food prices, many folks have to take up multiple jobs, exerting great pressure on the physical health, thus increasing their medical costs. The man who has other worries to manage is left with minimal income altogether in this entire process

Not only that, food inflation affects the rural region and low income categories more than others, in so doing leading to exacerbating the already unequal distribution of prosperity throughout the market. Although the abundant do not get richer because of inflation but the poor definitely gets poorer.

Significant increases in the prices of food commodities lead to a rise in the poverty degrees of the united states as the real income of people fall, pushing more and more people below the poverty collection. In a written report entitled "Summary poverty reduction and Public strategy" the ADB areas "overall a 20 % upsurge in food prices will lead with an 8pc upsurge in the poverty head matter, from 36pc to 44pc, with the negative impact of food price shocks slipping disproportionately on rural poor, as opposed to the urban poor. "

Government must step in to safeguard the people but it leads to a issue in other macroeconomic targets. From July 2008 to March 2009, the insurance plan rate needed to be increased from 13. 5% to 15%. This causes a reduction in the investment and overall investor assurance which hampers the rate of expansion of GDP. Private investment as a share of GDP dropped for the 3rd consecutive year to 13. 2% of GDP. this past year.

Rising food prices creates annoyance on the list of people which take the form of protests against the federal government creating more cultural unrest in the united states. Strikes, abuse of property are common sights when food as basic as sugar and wheat have sky rocketed. Different steps were taken by the federal government to provide food to the poor at subsidized rates at Bachat Bazars but this isn't showing to be as beneficial as one might imagine because many people still go home empty handed even after holding out in line for several hours as the stocks and options go out.

Businesses too have far reaching consequences. As there is a drop in the purchasing ability of people, it results a smaller demand for their goods and services. This in turn affects the success of the organizations. To make things worse, laborers demand higher wages which in turn boost the cost of doing business. This increase in cost is used in the buyers by means of higher prices, supplying surge to more cost thrust inflation. This varieties a vicious wage-price spiral where expectations of further increasing prices leads to a self rewarding prophecy.

Overall, when the overall economy inflation rate is making new information, people move the money from the currency which causes a devaluation of the currency. Moreover, when the price of these export items consisting of agricultural food crop increase, it is not only the exporters who suffer from but the whole country has little forex earning to pay for the rising transfer costs, thus weakening the total amount of obligations and increasing arrears costs.

Policy Recommendations

Short term policies

It is a well known fact that elimination is better than cure but the miseries of the common man in Pakistan has reached a nadir whereby avoidance is a long-term and a second phenomena and short-term quick fixes are immediate requirements of today. What the federal government must do to be able to repair escalating food prices in the brief run is to disperse free food through mobile services at different tips in the country. The government's to start with responsibility is to make certain that no citizen of Pakistan pass away because he or she could not get a right as basic as food. However, as it was witnessed a few months back that such a free distribution make people hurry to the place triggering stampedes and deaths, great care must be studied while employing the insurance plan.

If the federal government cannot maintain distribution decorum in individuals, they should subsidize the earnings of the indegent. However, the federal government should ensure that the subsidized income is provided and then those people who are needy enough and cannot even find the money for living. The federal government can expose a compulsory work practice which can "screen" the needy from those who are not.

After treating the immediate aspect ramifications of the inflation, the federal government must take some precautionary measures. Food price system in the country has been severely distorted because of food price adjustments and when such prices are less than the international prices, the farmers and the middlemen increase their increases by smuggling their crop to the neighbouring country. When the international prices are also not high, then they have to think double before planting the seeds of the same crop within the next season which reduces source and automatically increase price in the next season, again resulting in dark marketing and hoarding issues. Such disincentives are the by-products of price handles established too low. The federal government should offer the price which is more than the marketplace clearing price and then choose the crop from these farmers and present them their minimal guaranteed income. The federal government can sell the crops at the subsidized rates in the market.

However, as various middlemen come among, such an implementation of plan becomes almost an impossible process. As in the case of sugar, it arrived under the notice that the sugarcane farmers are exploited by the mill owners who purchase the raw materials from farmers at less price then prescribed by the government. Also, these poor farmers who've no ability of their own have to handle delays while carrying the sugarcane to mill, due to political reasons which leads to loss in the worthiness of output. Therefore affects supply of the meals crop and hence influences prices. A government intervention as of this intermediary phase by using a better check on such profiteering activities at the expense of poor farmers can help control the soaring food prices.

Long term Policies

The ever money eager politicians of the country will continue steadily to play dirty so long as their electricity is not taken away. These politicians treat the small farmers as slaves because they own that piece of land. These landlords do not consider land as a surprise of God which can fulfill the hunger needs but more as a position symbol of electric power and wealth. Pakistan requires such a innovator who can come forth and shatter feudalism from Pakistan.

Until and unless farmers do not own the parcel and continue steadily to work as sharecroppers, the agricultural productivity can't be maximized. Land Reforms are thus, the necessity of the united states which can help increase food output and therefore keep the prices under control. Distributing such large bits of land to the small farmers who frequently have to work in marginal bits of land will increase their productivity and hence increase the supply of products.

Also, in order to curb inflationary pressure created anticipated to supply shortages, the government should spend money on research and development so that better seeds, fertilizers and technology are available to the farmers which may then increase produce per hectare. The government also needs to inform them about not only how to proceed but also how to do. Also, there is a need to provide the farmers with infrastructure and logistics facilities such as better roads, easier credit facilities, warehouses to store extra produce, better marketing techniques etc.

Fuel not only drives equipment but also drives the success of the market. An current economic climate which relies typically on such a energy which includes severe escalating trend will end up destroying its growth engine. In a country like Pakistan where olive oil, diesel and gas serve the basic petrol requirements and where nothing much is done regarding its increasing price trend, there's a dire need to develop alternate energy options. The optimal solution for the short-term is to subsidize the olive oil prices but also for the long term Pakistan should develop hydroelectric power vegetation as it is a very cheap source of electricity. The government should also have discussions with India over this very sensitive issue as the supply of drinking water is often halted by India which leaves less water not limited to hydroelectric plants also for agricultural result.

For the existing hydroelectric power plant life especially at Mangla, Tarbela and Warsak, silting is no uncommon problem. Government should develop technology or purchase it from the overseas countries which can deal with the situation of silting in the dams as it reduces the resource and hampers the activity of turbines in the hydroelectric plants

All these options will never be fruitful if on a person level, we continue steadily to play the blame game and fail to perform our responsibility. Most of us need to go back fourteen hundred years where the rules of an effective society were set up by God, the tying thread of which belief in Allah. We must focus our thoughts from the advantages of this world to the punishments and rewards of the Hereafter. Once most of us on a person level realize that we are accountable to Him, neither the policies will be selfish, nor its implementation will require any further checks and amounts and only then the chronic problem of food politics and increasing prices will come to a halt.

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