Farmers urge govt to declare agri-emergency

Say erratic weather has ruined cotton, rice and corn crops

​ Our Correspondent October 04, 2019

LAHORE: The Farmers Bureau of Pakistan (FBP), a representative platform for progressive growers, has urged the government to declare agriculture and climate emergency in the country in order to save the sector from bad weather that the country has experienced over the past few days.

“Cotton, rice and corn crops have been nearly ruined because of the erratic weather, heat wave and a lack of promotion of new technologies in the agriculture sector,” said founding members of the FBP. “We may witness a loss of 40% in rice and maize yields while cotton may also face a similar fate.”

Talking to a group of journalists on Thursday, FBP founding members Dr Zafar Hayyat, Mian Shaukat, Aamir Hayat Bhandara and Imran Shah Khagga urged the government to make immediate intervention to save the growers. They pointed out that maize was not a crop for the southern region of Punjab but due to the poor performance of cotton crop, the farmers were opting to plant rice and maize in that region.

“Seed companies should have informed the growers earlier that varieties being marketed by them were not meant for all regions and they should test them while keeping changing weather conditions in mind,” they said. They were of the view that the agriculture sector could register negative growth this year, even lower than the previous year.

The FBP founding members urged the government to immediately improve its policies, control seed trade, introduce such seed varieties that were resistant to climate changes and bring technology in the sector.

Hayyat pointed out that untimely windstorms, erratic rains and sudden heat wave had impacted the rice and maize crops. Khagga pointed out that the formula for manufacturing pesticides, which were being marketed in the country, was 30 to 40 years old and they did not prove effective against pests.

He said pesticides of billions of rupees were being imported and marketed but such insecticides had no efficacy against pests rather they were causing illness among human beings and contaminating water.

He was of the view that independent surveys showed that the country might produce only 12 million bales of cotton this season against the target of 15 million bales despite an increase in the area under cultivation.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2019.

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