LAHORE - The finance ministry is ignoring agriculture sector in preparation of federal budget, as the finance minister Ishaq Dar, who took a commendable step by convening pre-budget meetings of all stakeholders from industry, business and trade, totally ignored the farming sector, as no farmers’ representative body has so far been consulted in this regard.

The growers’ representatives, while demanding their full representation in pre-budget meetings and consultation in budget preparation, have lamented that the government is bent upon destroying the agriculture sector not realizing that it will ultimately result in compromising the sovereignty of Pakistan and endangering food security while India continues to subsidize its agriculture amounting to around 100 billion dollars.

They reminded the government and the Finance Minister that the farming sector is still the largest sector contributing 21% i.e 4981 billion rupees to the GDP of Pakistan and fails to understand how worthy Minister Finance can ignore such an important sector which can only in the shortest possible time help in reviving the economy of Pakistan. They appreciating the tireless and tenacious efforts of the Finance Minister for creating fiscal space and improving the economy but warned that without taking agriculture sector into confidence and investing in it, won’t be able to revive the frail economy. The FAP President Dr. Tariq Bucha said that the government has also totally ignored the impact of imposing GST on agriculture inputs which is now proving anti poverty alleviation in rural sector. It should be understood that Farmers have either none or very little resources available from sowing to harvesting. In the present scenario of GST imposition on inputs, the situation has become very pathetic as will be evident from the fact that the prices of fertilizer have increased by 200 per cent, electricity tariff for tube wells has increased manifolds besides 14-18 hours load shedding in villages. Fuel and petrol prices have gone higher by 23 per cent and diesel prices have escalated by 28% which has clearly affected the economy of farmers by increase in the cost of production of related crops. On the other hand the government which claims to be democratic and welfare oriented has failed so far to even develop and up grade the infrastructure damaged by 2010 floods and undo the economical setback caused by consecutive monsoon rains and floods in the southern Sindh, badly damaging cotton, rice and vegetable crops.

The President Pakistan Kissan Ittehad, Khalid Mahmood Khokhar added that if trend of such detrimental policies continues with relation to agriculture, the farmers will have no option but to come on the road to snatch their right forcibly.