BAHAWALPUR

A national level farmers’ organisation has alleged that the government facilitated the middlemen and the hoarders to loot the farmers during the wheat procurement campaign by starting it on May 1 instead of April 1.

Due to the government’s flawed policies on agriculture, the farmers are on the verge of destruction and if the government does not accept their demands, they would hold a protest rally from Sadiqabad to Lahore and Islamabad.

Kissan Board Pakistan Central Vice President Jaam Hazoor Bakhsh expressed these thoughts while addressing a press conference in Bahawalpur. He said that despite the availability of 1.5 million tonnes of wheat in Pakistan, the government had imported 700,000 tonne of wheat from Ukraine and Russia. He added that wheat purchasing should have started from 1st of April but the government, through the delay, gave full opportunity to the middlemen and hoarders to loot the farmers.

He said that Sindh had been provided with 11 cusecs, Punjab with 8 cusecs and Bahawalpur Division was only provided with 3 cusecs of water per 1,000 acre. He said that at the start of the current year, 700,000 tonnes of inferior quality wheat was imported from Ukraine and Russia despite the availability of 1.5 million tonne wheat in the country. Due to this step, he added, the country faced a loss of billions of rupees as later the government gave a subsidy of 55 dollar per tonne on the purchased wheat.

He said that imported wheat was sold to the exporters at the price of Rs900 per 40 kilogramme and the nation was told that 1.2 million tonne wheat had been saved from being wasted. He said that wheat purchasing campaign should have started from April 1 but the government benefited the middlemen and hoarders by starting the campaign from May 1, and then span of purchasing was increased to 40 days.

He said that this year, the targets of all the wheat purchasing centres had been changed; for example the targets of areas with low production were made equal to those of high production. He said that at Khairpur Tamewali, Kissan Board caught eight trolleys from which wheat was being unloaded by the wheat purchasing centre officials and it was owned by the private brokers.

He said that farmers are facing critical problems due to lower targets. He said that crops of rice, corn and potatoes were snatched from the farmers; rice was purchased at the price of Rs1,300 per 40 kilogramme from the farmers and sold at the price of Rs5,000 per 40 kilogramme in the market while corn was purchased at Rs800 per 40 kilogramme.

He said that in Pakistan, the fertilisers and pesticide prices were touching the skies while in India the prices of these products are 3 times less than in Pakistan. However black marketing of such products is also there in the season apart. He said that for Cholistan, 250 cusecs water was approved in the Pervez Musharraf era. He said, “We farmers are peaceful and our demands are in the interest of the country. If the government does not accept their demands, the Punjab farmers will take out a protest march from Sadiqabad to Lahore and Islamabad.”