The energy crisis will continue to be a story throughout the winter, as if it hasn’t been a thorn in our side usually as well. The scarcity of gas only reminds us of the mismanagement and lack of alternative planning on part of the government and in the latest series of damages, the cotton and rice crops. The rice crop has had declining export figures and revenues, and cotton production is at a low. When the cotton rates fell below the cost of production, the government asked the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to lift 1m bales off the market and help stabilise falling prices. This government interference is counteractive. Even if the government is absorbing the loss, it is still a loss. The government works on an ad hoc basis. There is no vision for the sustainable future of agriculture. The farmers have now responded by decreasing acreage under the crop, a contraction of production. The government till now has been supporting the cotton industry that is unwilling to buy the cotton crop produced. It is the farmer to which the economic losses are being transferred.

The farming lobby is in revolt. They demanded in parliament that the GST levied on agricultural machinery, fertilisers, pesticides and other agricultural input items be waived for them. This demand for protection too is not what is needed, but what should the framers do when there is no infrastructure provided, electricity is not only expensive but missing from the equation and there is confusion over the support prices provided by the government?

There are reports for example that sugarcane has been selling at Rs150 per 40 kg while the support price has been fixed at about Rs 180 per 40 kg fixed by the provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh.

The whole nation is fixated on dharna politics, not realising that we are nearing a time when we will be so food deficient that we may starve. Farmers and small business have been trying to gather what they can by private means whether it be installing solar panels, digging tube wells, and even burning animal waste. The government has to start doing a better job.