NA committee takes notice of fertiliser price hike

Published: November 5, 2019
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A farmer spreads fertiliser in his rice field. PHOTO: REUTERS

A farmer spreads fertiliser in his rice field. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Taking a strong note of the continuous increase in the price of fertiliser and fearing its negative impact on wheat production and food security, the National Assembly Special Committee for Agricultural Products has summoned a meeting on Thursday in which officials from the concerned departments would participate.

The committee session presided over by NA Speaker Asad Qaiser was held at the Parliament House on Monday.

The participants of the meeting, while expressing strong concerns over the increase in the price of fertiliser, maintained that the hike must be checked in order to avoid a crisis of wheat and food security in the future.

The committee directed to take immediate measures to ensure that the price of fertiliser was cut by Rs100 per bag and expressed concerns over the reports that fertiliser companies were collecting all sorts of taxes from farmers.

Representatives of companies who were present on the occasion could not convince the committee with their explanations.

The body observed that the price of fertiliser sold to Pakistani farmers was highest among Asian countries, while the competitive commission had failed to end the cartelisation. It was feared that increasing the price of fertiliser, especially Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), would affect wheat production.

The committee made it clear for the concerned ministries and fertiliser companies that wheat was directly related to food security and the crop cultivators and farmers would be disappointed if their complaints were not addressed.

The committee added that the farmers were helpless before the fertliser companies and if the matter was not resolved, many would be forced out or compelled to forgo wheat production, which would pose a risk to food security in the country.

The committee has called an immediate meeting of its price review committee on Thursday in which officials from the Ministry of Industries and Production have also been summoned along with other stakeholders, including the fertiliser companies.

Speaking on the session, PTI leader Asad Umar said that the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) tax was collected from fertiliser companies, while its burden was shifted on to the farmers.

The committee sought a balance sheet of the fertiliser companies.

During the meeting, committee members Fakhar Imam, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Riaz Fatyana and others reviewed the complaints made by farmers and crop cultivators.

The NA body announced that the government would safeguard the rights of poor farmers rather than the privileged class. It was observed that other people took advantage of the relief and government support meant for the farmers.

The committee directed the federal and provincial authorities to present their policy framework regarding the export and storage of fruits, vegetable, and edible oil. It expressed the resolve that it would facilitate the farmers and cultivators in getting access to international markets.

Speaking to media after the session, Fatyana said that fake and substandard seeds had been hampering agricultural growth.

He lamented that cultivators of rice and maize had suffered losses in the current season and fixed responsibility on the Ministry of National Food Security and the Punjab Agricultural Department to resolve the issue.

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