HYDERABAD -  The Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has expressed deep concern over the inter-provincial sale of sugarcane crop and a significant drop in the cotton production which will force the government to opt for the cotton imports.

The SCA held a meeting here at its secretariat to deliberate of these issues. The farmers’ representatives from Karachi, Sanghar, Sukkur and Ghotki districts attended the meeting, which was chaired by SCA President Dr Syed Nadeem Qamar, through the video link.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Qamar said sugarcane cultivated in Punjab was being sold in Sindh and was causing financial losses to the farmers of the province. He requested the Sindh government to impose section 144 against inter-provincial movement of sugarcane and let that ban to continue until the sugarcane crop was completely harvested from Sindh.

Dr Qamar, who also heads the National Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) in Karachi, reminded the provincial government that a similar ban was also enforced in year 2014. The SCA's president complained that the supply of substandard seed including that for the cotton crop had adversely affected the crop production as well as the cotton production.

He informed that the farmers in Sindh buy the cotton seed from Punjab and pointed out that absence of a functioning agriculture research organisation allows the cultivation of crops with low quality seed. "We have a very serious situation to deal with," he observed and requested the Sindh govt to take immediate measures to address the situation for supply of quality seeds to the farmers.

SCA General Secretary Nabi Bux Sathio claimed that 500,000 to 800,000 maunds of sugarcane from Punjab were being sold to the sugar mills in Sindh mainly in Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions. "On one hand the sugarcane farmers in Sindh suffer financial losses and on the other hand severe traffic problem and damage to link roads in the province is being caused by 22-wheeler vehicles which carry sugarcane from Punjab to Sindh," he maintained.

He informed that the federal government had set a target of 15 million bales of cotton production for the ongoing year. However, the local farmers could produce only 10.6 million bales and which had left the government to spend billions of dollars to import cotton.

"If the government by following the agriculture friendly policies had ensured provision of quality cotton seeds to the farmers, this situation in which we are dealing with huge shortage wouldn't have created," he said. Sathio also demanded of the government to announce interest free loan package for the farmers of Sindh.

SCA Vice President Zahid Hussain Bhurgari said the wheat harvest was going to start soon in Mirpurkhas division. He urged the provincial government to provide gunny sacks to the wheat farmers and to open up the wheat procurement centers without delay. Qabool Muhammad Khatian, Mohammed Khan Sarejo, Mir Imdad Ali Talpur and other office bearers and members of the SCA attended the meeting and shared their views.