The poor farmers are gravely concerned about the governments’ indifference towards the issues being faced by them. This apathy indicates that the government is no longer concerned about farmers and the false promise of cheaper inputs for them has come to a dismal end. Furthermore, the fertilizer industry overall has now been put on the ‘back burner’ and it seems is no longer on the radar of the government, thus depriving farmers of benefit from domestic industry, when international price escalate. 

There is a need to take immediate measures to support this essential sector, which promises to strengthen the entire agriculture sector - the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. Over 70% of Pakistan’s population is directly or indirectly dependent on agricultural produce to earn their livelihood. Since, nearly 90% of the farmers in Pakistan have small land-holdings (12 acres or less) and very limited financial resources, the farming community looks up to the economic managers, to take more concrete measures for providing long-term relief for higher yields and lower costs. 

This negative posturing by the government leads one to believe that the government is considering withdrawing the subsidy and leaving the poor farmers to look to other means. For many years now, the subsidy granted to the fertilizer industry is not actually retained by the manufacturers. They are voluntarily absorbing the GIDC cost to pass on the subsidy’s benefits to the farmers via reduced prices. However, the ‘Cess’ has often compelled the manufacturers to demand an increase in fertilizer prices. In which case, the farmers will end up paying a higher price for fertilizers. If this unfair policy continues to hamper the performance of this essential industry, it will negatively impact the wellbeing of the masses. 

The government must take every measure to keep the prices of various food crops affordable for the poor masses, while also ensuring profitability for the farmers – the economically-deprived segment of Pakistan’s population. There is also a need to provide incentives to the farmers in the shape of agriculture inputs such as quality seeds and provision of soft loans for purchase of tractors and other equipment needed for progressive farming methods. 

The fertilizer prices need to be kept on present state through tax benefit and also incentive in the form of cost reduction. It will be facilitating progressive farming and bringing the agricultural sector towards modernization, by making the farmer more profitable, informed and competitive, to earn his rightful share in the regional and international markets. 

An agricultural stakeholder. 

MUHAMMAD SAGHEER, 

Islamabad, April 19.