Farmers flay ministers’ ‘black marketing’

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November 13, 2014

MULTAN(nation): The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad on Wednesday accused various ministers and ginners of fleecing the cotton growers, hurling a threat to kick off a protest drive from Lahore on November 17 if the financial loss faced by the farmers were not compensated forthwith.

Addressing a news conference here along with other office-bearers, PKI President Khalid Mehmood alleged that the government ministers are involved in the black-marketing and profiteering of the urea, saying that the blue-eyed persons of the ministers had been appointed as urea dealers in the past and they had fleeced the farmers of Rs3 billion in a few months.

He said that the ginners had deprived the growers of Rs6 billion by purchasing the cotton (phutti) from them at throwaway price. He maintained that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan intentionally delayed the procurement of cotton to force the cotton growers to sell their produce at throwaway price of Rs2,400 per maund. He added that the ginners through a cartel slowed down the purchase of raw-cotton to blackmail the growers.

He refuted the claim of the chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association that raw cotton rates have increased and now they are purchasing the produce at Rs2,700 to Rs2,750, declaring it absolutely incorrect and misleading statement. He appealed to the government to impose agricultural emergency in the country and ensure fair return of growers’ produce.

Referring to fertilisers, the KIP president pointed out that the country required 6.4 million tonnes of urea while domestic production capacity stood at 6.9 million tonnes. He alleged that the government created artificial crisis and shortage of fertilisers by cutting off gas supply to the fertiliser industry. He said the government should have maintained urea reserve stock of 0.8 million tonnes in the month of September for sowing the Rabi/winter crops including wheat, mustards, grams, oil seeds, vegetables, fodder etc. Khokhar said that urea and DAP prices of 50-Kilogramme bag have reached to Rs1,850 and Rs3,730 compared to Rs900 in 2010 and DAP Rs2,900. The cash-starved farmers have reduced the usage of fertilisers by 30 percent which is bound to cut the production of commodities by at least eight to ten percent, he said.

He also highlighted the problems of the sugarcane growers who are being fleeced by the sugar mills by 10 to 20 percent cut, short weight, less and late payment of sugarcane offered for sale. He said the government should ensure that price of fertilisers is written on the bag to end black-marketing, restore gas supply to the fertilisers manufacture plants for supply of cheap fertilisers to the growers.

Similarly, sugar mills owned by the ministers, MNAs and MPAs are looting the sugarcane growers without any check and hindrance, he said. A numbers of farmers said if the government did not withdraw the increase in the prices agri inputs and control decrease in the purchase prices of cotton and sugarcane, the farmers will launch countrywide protest.

President of Anjuman Kashtkaran Punjab Peerzada Abdul Ali Zakir Usmani urged the government to recover Rs5 to 6.5 billion from the ginners because they had purchased the 99.60 million maund of raw cotton from the growers at Rs2,200 to Rs2,400 per maund.

PLAN LAUNCHED: Multan—-In order to promote kitchen gardening programme launched by the provincial government, the Agriculture Department has decided to distribute 4000 seed packets among the residents of three tehsils of Multan district.

Talking to journalists, District Agriculture Official Habib Akhtar Jillani said that 1,000 seed packets for kitchen gardening have been allocated for Tehsil Shujaabad, 800 packets for Tehsil Jalalpur Pirwala and 2,000 packets for Tehsil Multan. The Agriculture Department has set up 13 sale points in the district and seeds of eight vegetables would be available at Rs 50 per packet. The agriculture department is going to establish 70 model kitchen gardening plots in the district and 15 plots in schools to motivate the general public to promote kitchen gardening.

Assistant Director Agriculture Information Naveed Asmat Kahloon said that the minimum intake quantity of vegetables for an individual should be 300 to 350 grams daily but it is observed the citizens take only 100-150 gram. He added that the health problems aggravated due to low vegetable intake.

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