Pakistan's ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, ordered the immediate revival of the defunct sugar board to maintain strategic reserves of sugar and wheat in the public sector and to enable government intervention in case these commodities disappear from the market.

At a briefing on agriculture strategy attended by governors of four states, Musharraf said the sugar board would be responsible for taking all actions including assessing sugar import requirements. The government would use its own funds to buy sugar for reserve stocks.

The agriculture ministry was also asked to set up a strategic reserve for wheat, to cope with the shortage expected next year due to existing water scarcity.

By Navros Havewala, correspondent