LAHORE   -    The Farmers Bureau of Pakistan (FBP), a representative body of progressive growers, has urged the government to declare agriculture and climate emergency to take the sector out of prevailing crisis.

“Cotton, rice and corn crops have almost ruined because of erratic weather, heat wave, lose control on seed trade and lack of promotion of new technologies in the agricultural sector. We will see 40 per cent loss in rice and maize crops while cotton is also facing the same fate,” said founding members of FBP while talking to members of Agriculture Journalists Association (AJA) at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday. FBP founding members Dr Zafar Hayyat, Mian Shaukat, Aamir Hayat Bhandara and Imran Shah Khagga urged the government to intervene for saving the growers.

They said the growers opted for planting rice and maize due to poor performance of cotton. They said the companies should have told the growers that varieties being marketed by them were not meant for the South. They claimed that this year agriculture may register downward growth even lower than the previous year. They said the government should immediately improve the policies; control seed trade, introduce seed varieties resistant to climatic changes and promote technology.

Dr Zafar Hayyat said that FBP was formed to sensitize policy makers about problems of growers. Imran Shah Khagga, a progressive grower, said that the formula of pesticides being marketed was 30-40 years old and it was not resistant against pests. He said pesticides of billions of rupees were imported and marketed but such medicines have no efficacy against pests rather cause illness even among the human beings. He claimed that as per independent surveys the country would get 12 million bales of cotton against the target of 15 million despite increase in area under cultivation. Weight of the bales has also been reduced from 160 kg to 120-130 kg, he added.

He said that pink bollworm was a major risk for cotton. He said the FBP has requested the National Productivity Organisation (NPO) and other institutes concerned to ban such seed which have no proper gene expression and could not fight against diseases prevailing in this region.

Mian Shaukat, farmer and seed producer, claimed that 75 per cent of rice and corn has ruined because of bit higher temperature at the time of pollination. He said rice and maize plants were devoid of any grain. He said a law should be enacted for checking seed trade.

“We cannot increase production by importing seed. Rather hybrid seed should be developed in the country in line with our requirements”, he said while calling for a strict control over sale of fake/stolen seeds.

LCCI Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar also called for imposing agricultural and export emergency in Pakistan. However, he claimed the present government was working in right direction for safeguarding the agricultural sector. He said agricultural machinery such as rice transplanters, rice harvesters and laser land levelers were being introduced. He also invited the growers to work in collaboration with LCCI on producing exportable agricultural surplus.