IT is predicted that in the forthcoming season wheat yielding would be steep down and there would be no bumper crop of wheat as cost of input in the shape of urea fertilizer would further increase up to Rs500 per bag because government is supplying gas to fertilizer plants just for 15 days in a month. It is a pity that Ministry of Petroleum under the dictation of World Bank and IMF, has proposed to supply natural gas to fertilizer plants just for 15 days in a month which is basic raw material for fertilizer. Under this plan, the SNGPL will supply gas for 15 days on alternative basis, supporting the idea that international lender agencies are ruining Pakistans agriculture sector since these agencies suggested the government to use natural gas for power generation and import urea to fulfil countrys agri requirements. These views were expressed by Engro Corporation President and CEO Asad Umar while talking to The Nation exclusively. He said that unfortunately countrys policymakers are blindly following the instructions of international donors without keeping into mind the ground realities, adding that the officials of these agencies who used to live in furnished offices, do not know the real problems of farmers community who live in such small towns of the country where even basic necessities are not available. He insisted that the decision of gas shut for the fertilizer sector would trigger further price-hike and within next six months, everyone would have bitter experience that not only urea price would go up further by Rs500- per bag but another wheat crisis can be visualised right now. He revealed that natural gas is a basic raw material of fertiliser industry and shortage of this commodity had already added some Rs375 in the price of urea bag since January 2010. In addition to gas shortage, Asad Umar said, urea deficit had further swelled fertiliser prices by Rs170 per bag, while imposition of General Sales Tax of agriculture inputs had added Rs184 per bag. However, whilst defending fertilizer sector, he claimed that fertiliser manufacturers margins and other increase had merely added around Rs17 or two percent per bag. He was of the view that due to shortage of gas and bad gas management planning, fertilizer prices in the country have shoot up from Rs750 to Rs1,800 per bag in just 18 months, which are equivalent to an accumulative increase of last 32 years, adding that it is expected that fertilizer prices would further swell sharply if the gas curtailment issue is not solved on priority basis. He warned that though Pakistan is located in food basket region, but lack of water and high prices of fertilizer are converting our country into food scarce state, adding that this shortage of food would further escalate insurgency in the region. He said that in 2005, government formulated natural gas allocation policy in which fertilizer sector was given top priority after domestic consumers but after getting dictation from international donor agencies, fertilizer industry has been put last in the allocation queue. He blamed that electronic and print media projected only CNG associations point of view that was why, he added, CNG stations were offered five days, industrial units were given four days while fertiliser sector has given only three days per week gas supply during the first half of 2011. He claimed that new fertilizer plants are based on modern technology that need no shut down and could run continuously for three years without any break but unfortunately, owing to gas shortage, he claimed, his plant, that is considered to be the largest fertilizer plant in the world, had to be shut down 17 times during current season, which not only decrease production but also increase risks for the sophisticated machinery. While giving detail of gas distribution system, Asad Umar said that countrys current urea manufacturing capacity is around 6.5m tons of which approximately 2.3m tons is installed on Sui Northern Gas network (SNGPL). These plants, he said, include Engro Enven (1.3m tons), Agritech (0.46m tons), Dawoood Hercules (0.44m tons) and Pak Arab (0.1m tons). Adjusting the gas curtailment of 20 percent agreed last year, the annualised effective capacity on SNGPL network would be around 1.8m tons. Thus with additional gas shortage of 15 days a month, local urea production would decline by round 0.9m tons. To compensate the production losses, government will go for additional import of 0.9m tons of urea, resultantly total urea shortfall could increase to 2.3-2.5m tons. However, it is estimated that government had to import over 3.5m tons of urea that could cost Rs130 billion to government. While elaborating interesting points, Asad Umar divulged that though Gulf countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are not agricultural states like Pakistan but still they have set up many fertilizer plants in their respective countries and are earning precious foreign exchequer by exporting urea to agriculture countries like Pakistan and India. He further said that there is no significant gas fields in India and she import LNG for commercial purpose, but amazingly prices of urea in India are almost half the price of Pakistan.