RAHIM YAR KHAN    -   The representatives of nine growers representative organisations have threatened that a protest will be launched to press the demand for increase in the support price of agriculture produces under the banner of Kissan Bachao Tehreek Pakistan (KBTP) soon. 

The government should announce new support prices for at least four agriculture produces including sugarcane, cotton, rice and wheat, because the prices of inputs have increased almost 80 to 90 percent, remarked different district representatives of All Pakistan Farmer Organizations in a special meeting held here the other day.

The meeting was jointly called by All Pakistan Kissan Foundation (APKF), All Punjab Jaag Kissan Movement (APJKM), Kissan Board Pakistan (KBP), Punjab Growers Association Pakistan (PGAP), Agri Forum Pakistan (AFP), Anjuman Kashtkaran Punjab (AKP), Kissan Ittehad Pakistan (KIP), Progressive Farmers Association Punjab (PFAP) and Tarqi Passand Kashtkaran Punjab (TKP) to record their protest initially and make a consensus decision on a large protest in Lahore, to be announce after three days.

The farmer leaders including Haji Ibrahim, Syed Mehmoodul Haq Bukhari, Jamil Nasir, Raja Nasir, Hafiz Hassan Mehmood and Shehzad Ibrar Saleemi informed the media about their grievances and problems in the aftermath of record devaluation of rupee and subsequent skyrocketing hike in the prices agricultural inputs.

They said that the rate of sugarcane was Rs180 per maund (40kg) in 2014 and the rate of sugar was Rs45 per kg at that time. The increase in price of sugar started in January 2019 and now it has reached Rs85 per kg but the rate of sugarcane is still Rs 180 per maund. They said that the sugar mills have increased the rate of mud from Rs1,500 to Rs3,000 per tonne, molasis Rs7,500 to Rs16,000 per trolley and bigas Rs1,800 to Rs3,200 per tonne. They alleged that some ministers have planned an increase of Rs15 to 20 (per 40kg) in the rate of sugarcane, warning that the growers would never accept “this peanuts.” They stressed the government should increase the rate of sugarcane up to Rs350 per maund so that the farmers could meet their input expenditures. They said that if sugar mills owners only implement the ruling of Supreme Court regarding formula of sugar price against sugarcane, the rate of sugarcane would stand at Rs380 per maund. They asserted that the growers only want the sugarcane rate according to its juice ratio. The farmers representatives said that they attended many meeting called by Deputy Commissioner for addressing their complaints but the DC himself always remained absent from these meetings. They demanded that the government should announce the prices of sugarcane at Rs350 per maund, cotton Rs5,000, paddy Rs2,500 and wheat Rs1,500 per maund to help save the agriculture from total collapse. They pointed out that in Sindh, poor farmers sold their cotton at the rate of Rs3,100 per maund and 1,800,000 cotton bales have arrived in the market. They regretted that the prices of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and fuel have increased manifold during the last year but the poor farmers are compelled to get lowest rates for their agriculture produces.  They warned that if farmers suspend sowing cotton, wheat, rice and sugarcane, the wheel of industry would be shuddered to halt. They claimed that there are more than 50 million labourers attached with agriculture sector in Pakistan and the government should devise comprehensive policies in their favour to strengthen the backbone of the country.