PESHAWAR: The cash-strapped Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has shut down the Insaf Food Security Programme (IFSP) at a time when the cultivation season has just begun, jeopardising the wheat production in the province.
The K-P finance department conveyed this to the agricultural department in a letter issued on October 26, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
“The decision has not only caused uncertainty in our department but has also put this year’s wheat production in the province at stake as our cultivation season has started and we can’t provide seeds to the farmers which will delay cultivation and resultantly decrease production,” a senior official of the K-P agriculture department said.
The department has made reservations for 10,444 metric ton of seeds with the Punjab Seeds Corporation and Agriculture Development Fund of K-P in July 2016 for the current season. As many as 91,769 out of the total 209,000 bags printed with IFSP have been supplied.
“The government should have informed us in July, if they intended to end the scheme so that we had our planning in time.” The scheme has been given approval at the Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) meeting on October 4, the department received the meeting minutes on October 19, and after a week, on October 26, the scheme deletion letter was issued to the department.
“We collected Rs500 per bag from the farmers which they are now taking back. They have lost trust in our department and are buying seeds from the market,” another official of the department said.
“The seed bags we received carry the Not for Sale notice and farmers are not ready to buy them from us at our purchase price due to uncertainty and lack of confidence created by the sudden decision of the government,” he said. “If the government could not run the scheme, why was it started in the first place,” the official added.
The department has already distributed 2,026 bags in the upper K-P where the cultivation season starts from October 15, while the bags received from the vendors have been supplied to Bannu, Karak, Kohat, Peshawar, Charsadda, Swat, Battagram, Tank and Lakki Marwat where they were supposed to be distributed among the farmers and are still stored in warehouses.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2016.