LAHORE: With the threat of staging a sit-in at the Parliament House on the eve of federal budget announcement, leading farmer bodies have demanded compensation to offset the ‘huge losses’ suffered on account of low prices of sugarcane, potato, rice and cotton.
They have also called for announcement of a minimum support price for all major crops like the way neighbouring countries offer to their growers.
Import of cotton and milk powder should be strictly regulated by imposing hefty duties in order to protect the interest of local farmers, in addition to taking robust measures for ending water shortage by constructing reservoirs on war footing, said officials of varying farmers’ associations at the Farm Leaders Pre-budget Seminar organised by the Agriculture Journalists Association.
Pakistan Kissan Ittehad President Khalid Mehmood Khokhar said all farmers had been facing losses as they could not get due price for their produce.
“Government should announce a compensation of Rs30,000 per acre for the farmers, sadly, the ruling elite only gives monetary benefits to powerful sugar, textile and other agriculture-based industries and shies away when farmers’ losses are to be compensated,” he added.
“Taxes on fertiliser should be withdrawn to increase its demand, which will eventually translate into a visible jump in the output of crops.”
He suggested that farmers’ marketing problems could be resolved by introducing minimum support price for cotton, rice, corn, potato and other main crops like India did to shield the interest of farmers.
He underlined the need for providing relief for the farmers to make up for the rising cost of pumping groundwater, otherwise, they would have no option but to protest.
Speaking on the occasion, Kisan Board Pakistan Senior Vice President Sarfaraz Khan said all political parties should come forward to adopt a unanimous national development agenda by giving top priority to the agriculture sector.
Farmers Associates of Pakistan Director Ebad Khan said most of the subsidy schemes introduced by successive governments had failed to produce desired results as these were not executed while keeping in view a result-oriented approach.
He also pointed to the lack of coherent approach among policymakers, saying due to absence of synergy, the farmers could not adopt new techniques because of loopholes in government schemes.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2018.