ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has rejected the increase of Rs50 per maund (40kg) in the wheat support price.
In a statement on Thursday, he said that increasing the wheat support price by a mere Rs50 after five years was a joke with the farmers. After the last PPP tenure, all successive governments had ignored the plight of the farmers, he said. During the last PPP government, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said, the wheat support price was increased from Rs450 to Rs1,200. This increase resulted as an incentive for the farmers and the PPP was able to shift Pakistan from a wheat importing country to an exporting one.
“The wheat support price should at least be increased to Rs1,600 per maund,” he said.
He said that across the world currently the wheat price stood at Rs1,575, while in Pakistan farmers would only get Rs1,350.
“The governments across the world protect and support the rights and interests of their farmers and agricultural communities, but in Pakistan the exact opposite is happening. Our government is anti-farmers,” he said.
The PPP chairman pointed out that the prices of inputs for the farming community like urea, DAP and energy had skyrocketed and the meagre increase in support price was not in line with production costs and inflation.
“This government’s anti-agriculture policies have destroyed our farming communities and as a result agricultural produce has declined. This policy will lead to food shortages,” he said.
The PPP chairman said that all major crops had seen reduction in output like cotton wheat and rice. This year, decline in cotton production stood at almost seven million bales. The government has left farmers at the mercy of market forces, leading to chaos.
“After destroying our industrial sector, the PTI government is now destroying agriculture. If our farmers stop tilling their land, our country will not have enough food to survive. Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan,” he said.
He urged the government to immediately bring forward a well thought out farmer-friendly agricultural policy and place it before parliament for approval.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019