ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research has asked the government to set minimum support price for cotton to ensure growers can earn reasonable profit on their crop.
If cotton price falls below support price levels, the government should intervene to safeguard and protect interests of growers, Senator Muzaffar Shah said while presiding over the committee meeting on Monday.
The committee asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to calculate the entire cost of production and fix the minimum support price based on that calculation. The committee also asked the ministry to undertake measures to ensure the cost of production is covered and growers get reasonable profit for their crop.
The committee expressed grave concerns regarding the fact that abadgars and growers were switching production from cotton to other crops. In Punjab, growers have been switching to maize, while in Sindh growers are now switching to sugarcane.
The committee recommended the ministry to take up the issue of cotton growers with the federal government.
Senator Shah said that cotton is the country’s cash crop and growers would like the government to fix a minimum support price above the cost of production.
The committee directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to maintain a liaison with the Ministry of Commerce as well as the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) to purchase cotton from farmers at reasonable prices.
Ministry of National Food Security and Research Secretary Muhammad Hashim Popalzai also informed the committee that a dialogue is currently in progress with the PCCC however no positive development has emerged so far.
The committee discussed the damage to wheat crop in the wake of heavy rains and hailstorms in parts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and recommended the federal and provincial government to notice the damage and come up with a comprehensive compensation package for growers. Khanewal is stated to be the worst hit city during the recent rains and hailstorms.
The committee was informed that Government of Punjab has started lifting wheat crop at the fixed support price of Rs1,300 while Government of Sindh is yet to take a decision on lifting the wheat crop, probably due to financial difficulties. At the same time Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supplies Corporation — federal government entity — has already started lifting wheat from farmers.
On the availability of fertiliser and water for the Kharif season, the committee was informed that the ministry had access to total availability of fertilisers and the committee was also briefed on the current water inflow situation for agriculture in the country, and was informed that surplus water was available to cater to both Kharif and Rabi seasons.
In relation to the production of vegetable oil, the committee recommended formulation of an oil policy to protect both growers and millers from losses. The committee expressed concern over the rising cost of production due to the declining sunflower and cotton production.
Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019