LAHORE - The Wagha Agri Trade Committee, which met here on Friday, has demanded a separate bilateral trade agreement for agriculture products between Indian and Pakistan.

The meeting was attended by representatives of all stakeholders including agri growers, cultivators, exporters and concerned government organisations.

Tariq Bucha, President Farmers Associates Pakistan, addressing the meeting, observed that Pakistan should trade with each and every country including India but level-playing field should be provided to Pakistani farmers who cannot compete with Indian growers due to high level of subsidies by their government.

Highlighting the issues being faced by the farmers, he said that in light of trade with India, farmers demand a separate bilateral trade agreement for the agriculture products. He said present SAFTA agreement needs to be revisited and clauses pertaining to agriculture needs to be added whereas they also want sensitive list for agriculture products to be expanded. It was observed during the meeting that farmers demand a level playing field in order to compete with the highly subsidized agriculture products of India as compared to Pakistani farmers, the Indian farmers are enjoying 100 billion dollar subsidy.

DG TDAP Lahore Sher Afgan Khan said that the government is committed to address the concerns and reservations of the agri growers and cultivators in perspective of Pak India bilateral trade through Wagah and with their collaboration an effective mechanism would be chalked out to safeguard the country’s farmers.

Chaudhary Javed Ahmed of Pak Kissan Ittehad said that our regulations and taxation system is damaging the agriculture sector of Pakistan. Farmers are facing adverse circumstances and the handling of inputs is derisive. The participants observed that there is a need to formulate a proper regulatory infrastructure with regard to agriculture sector in view of Pak-India trade liberlization so that the Pakistani farmers could compete with the Indian farmers. In Pakistan on average a farmer is owing four to five acres of land and is not financially strong to meet the demands of international trade. The representatives of growers demanded development of TOR’s for better positing of farmers and stressed on needs to subsidize for better quality output and better results through a proper mechanism including future pricing and support price on other agriculture products.

The participants also indicated their concerns regarding usage of Pakistani market for transshipment by India. The participants of the meeting also suggested that testing facility of GMO verification, pesticides and crop diseases needs to be established at all district levels and at Wagah border. The representative of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan stated that milling industry has grown by capacity of 9 million metric tons but the agriculture production is still 6.5 million metric tons.