Wheat harvest, some of which is being kept in open spaces, has come under threat in upper Sindh where weather has turned surprisingly cloudy, forcing farmers to sell their produce at lower prices and avoid damage.
There was rain in many cities and towns of upper Sindh on Friday night. Though most of the cities saw only drizzle, Ghotki and nearby areas came under heavy downpour.
The wheat crop is ready in almost all parts of upper Sindh and at some places the crop has been harvested and lying in open places. The untimely rains will damage the grain, inflicted heavy losses on the growers, say agricultural experts.
The provincial government has also not yet opened wheat purchase centres despite an earlier announcement that the centres will start working from April 1.
According to agriculturalists, growers of Kashmore district are facing more hardships as after the bifurcation of the district in 2004, no food controller has been posted in the area. To cater to the needs, the district food controller of Jacobabad is looking after the affairs in Kashmore as well.
Interestingly, farmers say, two district food controllers have been transferred from Jacobabad in the past two weeks and the district is without a food controller at this crucial time. Talking to The Express Tribune, Sindh Abadgar Board General Secretary for Kashmore Chapter GM Khoso said farmers of the district were encountering difficulties in the absence of a food controller. They had to travel 150 km to Jacobabad to see the food controller, which was expensive and troublesome, he said.
The provincial government had to open 62 procurement centres in both the districts, but so far not a single centre has been set up.
Afraid of losing their harvest due to rainfall and delay in lifting of the commodity by the government, Khoso said, the farmers had started selling wheat for Rs900 to Rs920 per 40 kg compared to government rate of Rs1,050.
“This happens every year, I don’t know why the government delays opening of procurement centres. It may be part of a conspiracy to force poor growers to sell the commodity at throw-away prices to middlemen,” he feared.
Sindh Abadgar Board President for Kashmore Chapter Khair Bux Baloch said the Sindh government had fixed wheat procurement target at 4.5 million tons, of which 1.3 million tons would be purchased from Kashmore and Jacobabad.
Last year, the government had purchased 1.5 million tons from the two districts.
Jacobabad District Food Controller Asghar Panhwar told The Express Tribune that he had been transferred and now was in Karachi. He said two more district food controllers were posted and transferred from Jacobabad and now the district was waiting for a new food controller.
According to Sukkur Food Controller Rafiq Shahani, 22 procurement centres will be established in the city on April 17.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2012.
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