Thursday, 27 November 2014

Agriculture dilemma: Helped by weather, ‘hurt by middlemen’

Sindh’s rice growers were ecstatic after favourable weather conditions helped them achieve a bumper crop. However, their excitement has been short-lived as the handsome price it could have fetched has been eaten away by traders and middlemen, lamented the rice growers.
Last year’s price of paddy was fixed at Rs1,485 per 40 kilogrammes. But it went down to little more than Rs1,100 per 40kg, which farmers do not receive, as they are offered as low as Rs950 to 800 per 40kg
Sindh Abadgar Board President Abdul Majeed Nizamani, while talking to The Express Tribune, criticised the federal government, saying that policies are anti-agriculture and the lack of subsidies is hurting farmers.
He said that paddy was sown over 1.8 million acres in Sindh this year, adding that the region mostly produces non-aromatic rice, which is exported to less developed regions like Africa. Pakistan’s yearly rice export is around $2.5 billion and Sindh contributes a major share.
“Due to bumper crop of aromatic rice in Punjab and its low price, the Punjab government has provided Rs5,000 per acre compensation to its growers,” said Nizamani. “Why does the Sindh government not follow this example?”
According to him, most of the sugar mills in Sindh are owned by the government and they have not yet started crushing, due to which sugarcane growers are facing financial hardships as well.
Speaking about the horticulture sector, Nizamani said that under free trade, the government imported Indian tomato, which inflicted heavy losses to growers in Sindh.
“We have achieved bumper crop for onions in Sindh,” he said. “So why isn’t the government exporting these onions to India?”
He added that vegetable imports from India are directly hurting the local farming industry. Nizamani urged the federal government to take action and regulate imports in order to facilitate local growing.
Sindh Abadgar Board Kashmore General Secretary G M Khoso said that the government and its policies are ruining the agricultural sector. “Majority of the landlords and industrialists are sitting in parliament, carving anti-grower policies,” he said.
“Subsidy should be given to growers.”
Published in The Express Tribune

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