ISLAMABAD: Farmers in Punjab have lost earnings during the pandemic and may not be able to buy inputs for rice production due to higher prices, according to survey carried out by the Asian Development Bank on ‘Covid-19 Impact on Farm Households in Punjab’.
Rice is a major staple crop and an important export product, and increased input prices may cause significant problems for the country’s economy.
ADB conducted a computer-assisted telephonic survey of 668 farmers across 10 districts of Punjab and interviewed over 400 farmers. About 62 per cent of total respondents reported financial difficulties in recent months because of the Covid-19. Nearly 89pc of respondents who did so indicated the purchase of inputs as their primary concern, while a minority cited liabilities, including loans from banks and non-bank lenders.
Moreover, 33pc of respondents indicated that their households experienced losses in wages and non-farm earnings because of Covid-19, and 22pc reported that at least one family member had returned home from urban and other areas.
Farm households are burdened by increase in the number of household members and reduced cash income, which resulted in reduced non-food expenditures (11pc) and lower food consumption (9.8pc).
Overall, 52.2pc of the farmers reported an increase in the cost of farm inputs due to Covid-19. Majority stated that the cost of seed had increased, while a sizable share noted higher prices for fertilisers and pesticides.
Regarding labour availability, most responding farmers stated they did not have problems in finding workers for the next crop cycle. Most reported not having any trouble finding machines for preparing land or sowing crops.
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020