Every government parrots the mantra that agriculture is the backbone of the economy. In practice, they regard it the exact opposite. Now that the harvesters have done a good, quick job and the wheat is lying in open heaps, the Food Department is being too hard on the farmer. Having monopoly over procurement, it is telling them wheat brought only in the designer plastic bags of 50kg issued by the Assistant Food Controller would be accepted and none other. If a farmer does not have the influence or money, he can spend a humiliating day in the sun and return in the evening without the bags. Every thunder in the sky threatens a pour and if it does rain, the farmer would be ruined by destruction of the grains lying open in the field. The last rice crop had suffered the same fate. The prices collapsed and many a farmer actually delayed harvesting in the hope that prices might rally. They didn't and a lot of them were ruined. In parts of Sindh the crops were burned. The plight of sugarcane and cotton producers is even worse. Such are the remedies the government administers but ends up breaking the back of agriculture. -ASLAM BAJWA, Lahore, via e-mail, April 24.