Protest planned on wheat price crash

Farmers announce nationwide protests on 25th, threaten not to harvest next crop

SHAHRAM HAQ April 24, 2024


The bumper wheat crop in Pakistan this year is seemingly becoming a nightmare for farmers as the market has crashed and growers are forced to sell the staple food crop much below the support price set by the government.

Since Punjab contributes more than 75% of the total wheat harvest, farmers of the province are frustrated and have announced a nationwide protest on April 25.

“We will not harvest wheat crop next year, if the exploitation of farmers continues, both from middlemen and the government,” remarked Kissan Board Pakistan Central Chairman Sardar Zafar Hussain Khan on Tuesday.

Wheat harvest season has begun, but the government has not yet unveiled a clear purchasing policy. “As a result, wheat prices have plunged up to Rs1,000 per 40 kg as middlemen have started exploiting the situation,” Khan said, adding “we are launching the protest, but if the government did not come up with an immediate solution, then we may convert the protest into a sit-in.”

The government has set the support price for wheat crop at Rs3,900 per 40 kg this year, but farmers’ lobbies claim that the Punjab food department and Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Supplies Corporation have not yet initiated purchase of the commodity. “Pakistan’s agriculture is witnessing the history’s toughest time as the farming community is experiencing losses on two fronts. On the one hand, the cost of crop production has doubled since 2023 while on the other prices of major crops have on an average dropped 25%,” said Khalid Khokhar, President of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad. “Both these aspects have rendered farming business unviable.”

As per farmers’ lobbies, during 2023, the farmers paid a huge amount of Rs300 billion – over and above the retail prices prescribed by the fertiliser industry – to market exploiters on account of urea black marketing. Despite hue and cry from the farmers, the government failed to enforce its writ to ensure urea availability at the prescribed retail prices.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2024.

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