MULTAN - Former National Assembly speaker Syed Fakhar Imam warned on Thursday that the Pakistani farming community would face severe crisis if agricultural items were allowed to be imported from India after implementation of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status.

Talking to The Nation, he added that the Pakistani farmers were faced with a very grim situation with the advent of MFN status being granted to India from January 1, 2013. He pointed out that the India government heavily subsidized its farming community while on the other hand Pakistani farmers faced adverse situation. "Unless the government of Pakistan also subsidize agriculture sector, the Pakistani farmers will not be able to compete with the imported Indian agricultural items," he added.

He said that the prices of different agricultural inputs in Pakistan registered 70 to 100 per cent increase during the last five years as compared to just 40-45 per cent increase on the Indian side.

He suggested to the government of Pakistan to carry out a policy review to analyze this critical situation as Pakistani products were not competitive with the Indian ones. "There are only two ways which will allow for the Pakistani farmers to have a level playing field vis-à-vis the Indian farmers. One is to reduce the prices of inputs and the other to offer adequate subsidy to agriculture sector," he suggested.

He warned that the agricultural community would remain under great strain and suffer heavy losses if the government failed to take these initiatives immediately.

He asked the government to convene a national conference of all stakeholders on urgent basis to discuss the prevailing situation and find out solutions. "After intensive discussion, debate, discourse and analysis, the government can take the necessary steps to give the Pakistani farmers a fair deal to compete with the Indian agricultural items on a level playing field."