KBP protests against govt's agriculture policies
M RAFIQUE GORAYA
JANUARY 02, 2012: Kissan Board Pakistan (KBP) held a rally in front of Lahore Press Club on Sunday to protest against the government's agriculture policies and price hike in inputs like fertilisers, agro machinery, seeds, pesticides, diesel oil, electricity, etc.
KBP President Sardar Zafar Hussain, Provincial President Noor Elahi Tatla, Amanullah Chathha, Hassan Javed, Zafar Ali Javed, Ch.
Akhtar Farooque Mayo, Ch Manzur Gujjar and others addressed the protest rally and demanded of the government to adopt pro-agriculture policies.
In his address, Hussain said that Pakistan needs only 6.4 million tons urea whereas it has the domestic production capacity of 6.9 million tons.
The government created artificial crisis and shortage of fertilisers by cutting off gas supply to the fertiliser producing factories.
He said the government should have maintained urea reserve stock of 0.8 million tons in the month of September for sowing the Rabi/winter crops including wheat, mustards, grams, oil seeds, vegetables and fodder, etc.
He maintained that very influential people in the Federal Government manipulated urea import three months late to create conditions for black-marketing, hoarding and profiteering.
The 50kg urea bag is being presently sold at a price of Rs 1,800 to 2,000 instead of the fixed price of Rs 1,480.
Hussain said that the government provided a subsidy of Rs 25 billion to the private sector at the rate of Rs 1,600 per 50kg bag to import 0.824 million tons of urea.
In the wake of this artificial crisis, the so-called dealers, appointed by the influential rulers, are getting an enormous profit of Rs 600 per bag in the black-market.
He said during 2010 price of urea bag was Rs 900 and Rs 2,900 of DAP per 50kg bag whereas urea cost has risen to Rs 1,800 and DAP to Rs 4,100.
In these circumstances the cash-starved farmers have reduced the usage of fertiliser by 30 percent this year which is bound to cut the production of commodities by at least eight to ten percent.
Wheat has been sown over 0.1 million less acreage than that of last year due to anti-agriculture policies of the government.
KBP President said "had the government been sincere with the farmers, it would have imported the fertiliser on time to save the growers from the greed of middlemen, dealers and businessmen as the subsidy of Rs 25 billion has least benefited the farmers.
He also highlighted problems of the sugar cane growers who are being fleeced by the sugar mills by 10 to 20 percent cut, short weight, less and late payment of the sugar cane offered for sale.
He said the government should ensure that price of fertiliser is written on the bag to end black-marketing, restore gas supply to the fertiliser manufacture plants for supply of cheap fertiliser to the growers, and construct big dams on the rivers to eliminate water shortages during lean periods.
Addressing the protest rally KBP leaders said that according to official reports, government ministers are involved in the black-marketing and profiteering of the urea as favourites of ministers have been appointed urea dealers who have fleeced the farmers of Rs 3 billion in a few months.
Similarly sugar mills owned by the ministers, MNAs and MPAs are looting the sugar cane growers without any check and hindrance.
They said if the government did not withdraw the increase in the prices of diesel, gas, electricity, agro inputs and control decrease in the purchase prices of cotton and sugar cane, the farmers will observe on Friday, 6th January 2012, as the protest day throughout the country.
They further demanded that tube wells be exempted from the electricity load shedding.