Farmers seek level-playing field against Indian produce
December 06, 2012
Different farmer organisations have unanimously urged the federal government to either give subsidy of Rs 12,000 per acre to growers on various inputs or impose Rs 400 per 40 kg regulatory import duty on Indian produce to ensure level playing field to Pakistani growers and agricultural sector against highly-subsidised Indian agriculture sector.
“We can produce vegetables, fruits and other produces in abundance if prices of inputs including fertiliser, diesel and electricity are brought at par with India, said representatives of different farmers organisations here on Wednesday. They made these demands through a unanimously adopted resolution at a function on “Farmer’s Perspective on Pakistan India Trade Liberalisation”, which was held under the aegis of Agricultural Journalists Association (AJA).
Dr Tariq Bucha, President Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP), Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman Agri-Forum Pakistan (AFP), Hamid Malhi, Chairman Basmati Growers Association (BGA), Sarfraz Ahmad Khan, Vice President Kissan Board Pakistan (KBP), Abdul Basit, former Chairman Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA), Hussain Jahania Gardezi, a progressive cotton grower and vice chairman FAP participated in the debate.
Farmers were generally in favour of trade with India or any other country of the world. However, they were of the view that the dynamics of the farming sectors of both countries should be minutely examined before fully opening trade. The joint resolution warned the government that agriculture is the livelihood of 65 per cent of Pakistan population and imbalance in trade with India will mean suffering for the country’s economy and depriving people of their livelihood.
What sort of liberalisation policy is this, if it doesn’t favour the country? Who are the people pushing it against our national economic interests? Are the negotiators competent enough to carve a fair and free trade policy for agriculture with India, participants questioned through a resolution.
They asked the authorities concerned to devise a separate trade policy for agriculture produce after consulting representatives of the farmer’s organisations. They also urged the government not to waste Rs 400 billion a year on doomed public sector enterprises like PIA, Railway, power companies, Pakistan Steel and to divert this money to agriculture sector for reducing prices of agri inputs.
They also expressed their concern over the detrimental effect of Indian imports on the domestic poultry industry, demanded the inclusion of poultry products in the sensitive list. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Tariq Bucha of the FAP said that we are not taking important trade related decision, while considering the interest of agriculture and allied sectors. He said that decisions in this regard were being taken in a hurry by the federal government, leaving many crucial questions unanswered. He said that there was a visible negative impact on our agriculture sector due to free trade with India.
We have seen the collapse of tunnel farming in Pakistan because of the unabated import of vegetables, he said, adding that the notion of cheap availability of fruits and vegetables due to free trade had also not proved true. We have been forced to buy Rs 300 per dozen Indian imported bananas. He floated the idea of constituting a committee comprising representatives of agriculture and allied sectors to look into various aspects of the Pak-India trade and to evolve a future line of action to ensure a level playing field for local farmers.