ISLAMABAD  - Members of National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research have showed their serious concerns on the provinces’ unwillingness to increase support price of wheat and they have feared that it will make the government to import large quantity of wheat to meet the demands in the country.

The members said during the standing committee meeting that the delay in announcement of increased wheat procurement price will result discouraging the farmers and they will decrease the wheat cultivation area thus making the government miss its wheat production target for the food year 2014.

The meeting was presided over by Chairman Malik Shakir Bashir Awan. Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan told the committee that two months back he had endorsed the increase of wheat support price but provinces seem not willing to do so.

Members were also annoyed on the absence of provincial representatives from the meeting and directed the MFS&R to ensure the presence of provincial secretaries of agriculture in the next meeting. The next meeting will be held soon to fix wheat price to avoid any further delay in this regard.

Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in the meeting that the provinces were not taking the responsibility of agriculture in a way they should. The leading role of agricultural policy making has been shifted to provincial governments after devolution of Ministry of Food and Agriculture but provinces seem not capable of dealing with this sensitive issue and due to that food security is under threat in the country.

He said that the provincial governments which were supposed to look after this critical sector had not given the requisite funds. This was alarming and showed the lack of priority given to this important sector, he said. Some functions of the Ministry, Shah Mahmood said, have been transferred to the provinces, while some functions had been distributed among 4 federal ministries resulting in utter confusion and inaction, he said. Shah Mahmood also raised his concerns over low price of phutti being offered to farmers. He said that the present price of phutti that is around Rs.2800-2900 per 40 kg, is the same they got last year.

He said that Pakistan has the installed capacity to produce enough urea to meet national requirements, but because of myopic government policies and non-availability of gas to fertilizer plants Pakistan was to import urea fertilizer when depleting foreign exchange reserves is a major issue.

Chaudhry Nazeer Ahmad said that India has given subsidy to farmers due to which our farmers unable to compete them. “When some crops produced in good quantity in India, the farmers sent them to Pakistani market, however Pakistani farmers are not allowed to do so”, he added that we need to form laws like India to protect the interest of our farmers.