Lahore - Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Chairman Standing Committee on Agriculture Produce, Ahmad Jawad has said that the government must fix the prices of sunflower and other oilseed crops for at least three years at optimum level to discourage the import bill of edible oil.

Addressing a ceremony here on Monday, Ahmad Jawad said that despite the significance of oilseed crops in reducing the country’s dependence on imported edible oil, neither the government nor the agriculture based associations are moved to step up production of the crops. Farmers generally prefer sugarcane and rice because of the better returns these offer on their investment. Growers feel discouraged by the market price the oilseeds fetch and are also handicapped by the absence of an enabling environment. The farmers, who go for cultivating sunflower, often feel disgusted because they are left at the mercy of the market. Jawad said the Pakistan Oilseed Development Board (PODB), disbanded in 2012 following the 18th amendment, has been revived, but its restricted mandate is to look after only the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the federal capital. Oilseed crops like mustard, sunflower, rapeseed and canola lack the congenial investment climate in provinces where they are grown. However, Sindh heavily contributes to the production of sunflower and other oilseed crops.

Yet, the sources in the provincial agriculture department do not view the situation as encouraging. They don’t focus on crops that are of short duration in the rabi season.