Natural gas is a scarce resource. Its allocation has to be made according to national priorities. Agriculture is backbone of Pakistan's economy. Therefore to increase indigenous production of fertilizer, the fertilizer industry was at no.1 priority for natural gas allocation. However, this priority has now been arbitrarily changed by the government and fertilizer industry has been subjected to severe loadshedding, while this gas has been shifted to power generating units. This has resulted in severe shortfall of fertilizer in the country. Due to shortage and high prices of fertilizer the agricultural production, especially that of wheat, will be substantially affected. It is worthwhile to note that fertilizer is a value added petro-chemical produced by using natural gas as a raw material but the power plants can use alternate fuels, most common being furnace oil. As oil prices have had a drastic slide down, pragmatic approach should have been to import furnace oil for power generation and use natural gas to make fertilizer. The government was constrained to import large quantity of fertilizer last year at a high price severely depleting the foreign exchange resources. Hope that better sense prevails this time and such mindless decisions are avoided. -QASIM IQBAL KHAN, Lahore, via e-mail, April 6.