LAHORE: Pakistani farmers demand a new and improvise farmer policy as per latest global trends from incumbent government as they believe that the state of affairs in agriculture sector is going in the wrong direction.
Despite being an agrarian economy, the agriculture sector has long been neglected along with the farmer community which has lead to the foundations of new associations with each passing day.
These views were expressed by stakeholders of Kissan Ittehad, a farmers lobby on Monday during a farmer’s convention.
President of KI North Punjab zone Rauf Tatlah said that we want to draw government and relevant ministry’s attention towards contemporary issues and challenges of farmer’s community in Punjab with a special focus on subsidized agriculture inputs to increase the crop yield and safeguarding economic rights of farmers. “These issues should be addressed immediately before it leads towards food crisis in the country”, he said.
The speakers said that being part of a global village, every country irrespective of developed or developing nation subsidize their agriculture industry specially their farmers with free electricity, DAP, urea and pesticide, crops insurance, low cost fuel, low price and high-quality seeds etc. “Even in neighboring country India, their government has implemented friendly policies to support their farmers with low cost agricultural input”, they said.
This has resulted in turning their part of Punjab as a Food Basket of India. However in Pakistan, government adopted adverse policies for farmers to create more hardships for already suppressed community, they added.
The Prices of DAP and Urea are way higher if compared with neighboring India. Besides water shortage, high taxes and electricity charges have pressed the community to the level where their survival is on stake.
Above all these obstacles, when farmer brings its final product to market, buyers start cheating them, as there are no official weight machines available in those markets. “Since our inception, government failed to provide quality seeds to its farmers and still rely on imported seeds that result in high cost of seeds. Established research centers are either non-functional or merged into government bodies. Discouraging cotton crop over sugar-cane has destroyed textile industry that now has to rely on imported raw material to fulfill their need whereas Pakistan has long known for his best quality cotton yield”, they said.
Farmers are deprived of market competitive prices of their products and middle-man taking all the advantage of price benefit. Thus, on every stage farmers are being exploited and deprived of their basic rights of easy access to quality agriculture input and fair price of their products from the Market, the added.
On this occasion, Senior Vice Chairman of KI Mian Farooq Ahmed said that government should provide a level playing field for local farmers to protect them from market exploitation and price mafia. “Government must implement national agriculture policy to ensure that farmer rights are protected under constitution and the agri-inputs must be subsidized under various government supported schemes to uplift their socio-economic status. Government must appoint a lawyer at district level to look after legal matters of Farmers”, Ahmad added.
In addition the stake holders emphasized on the economic wellbeing of farmers that will eventually lead to a prosperous Pakistan. Kissan Ittehad also demands for the new and improvise farmer policy as per the latest global trends. They’ll continue the struggles till their rightful demands are not met and till government introduces ‘National Agriculture Action Plan’ for farmers across the country. “Kissan Ittehad will hold next convention in Islamabad if government will not include their representatives in policy making process”, they added.