October 30, 2013
M RAFIQUE GORAYA
The country is fast heading towards food insecurity as the Federal and Provincial Governments are least moved to give incentives to farmers and revise support price upward for growing surplus wheat during 2013-14 Rabi season, President Farmers Associates of Pakistan, Dr Muhammad Tariq Bucha said here on Tuesday.
Talking to Business Recorder Dr Bucha said that the minimum cost of wheat production comes to Rs1,375 per 40 KG whereas the government’s purchase price is Rs1,250 per 40 KG, therefore, the farmers cannot afford to suffer a loss of Rs125 per 40 KG. The farmers would not oppose if the government leaves the wheat price open to the free market mechanism, he added.
He said since the agriculture is now a provincial subject, thus it is now responsibility of the Punjab government and not that of Federal Government to announce a new support price for wheat that should not be less than Rs1,500 per 40 KG to make it attractive for the farmers. He said Punjab produces more than 80 percent of the nation’s staple food, therefore, heavy responsibility lies over the Provincial government to immediately announce a new support price and incentives to ensure food security of the country.
Dr. Bucha said the Punjab farmers are still mulling over their options of sowing of winter crops including wheat, grams, lentils, sunflower, oil seeds, vegetables, fodder and orchards. If they did not find wheat crop economically viable, they would produce wheat just for their self-consumption and not for grain market, he warned. He said the annual wheat consumption has gone up to 26 million tons due to population explosion, hence the country would have to produce at least 26 million tons of the staple food otherwise the government would have to spend Rs100 billion on wheat import to feed the 190 million population next year. He said the Federal and Provincial Governments should not try to please the urban population at the cost of the voiceless 60 percent rural population. The high and unbearable cost of fertilisers, electricity tariff, diesel oil, tractors, pesticides, certified seeds, farm labour, transportation, storages, tube-well water and agriculture implements have over-burdened the agriculture sector which is the backbone of national economy, social and political stability.
Director General Punjab Agriculture Extension Services Dr Anjum Ali told this scribe that Punjab has set a wheat sowing target over 16.5 million acres to produce 19 million tons of wheat during 2013-14 Rabi season. He said the wheat sowing is likely to begin after 3rd November in the irrigated areas whereas sowing has already started in the rain-fed (Barani) areas in upper Punjab. Courtesy BR
Agriculture Sector, Agriculture, Agriculture in Pakistan, Food, Food Security, Economy,