THE government has on a number of occasions made public its intention to initiate welfare plans for farmers across the country. The community of farmers is happy at the announcements, but is still awaiting the execution of such plans on the ground. The farmers are struggling to continue tilling their lands, especially in the wake of the current unprecedented inflationary trends.

For instance, in southern Punjab’s Nurpur Thal area wheat is sown in November and December. Being a resident of this area, I can feel the agony of the farmers. From an endless list of setbacks for the growers, I want to highlight a few to give the readers an opportunity to know the plight of agriculture sector of which farmers are a major component.

The price of 100kg wheat bag is now Rs8,000, which was previously Rs4,000 after the harvest a few months ago. The price of a fertiliser bag has increased from Rs3,500 to Rs8,000 along with hiked-up pesticide rates. From the skyrocketing diesel prices and electricity rates to costly soil preparation, high-cost irrigation and expensive transportation, there is a plethora of problems that has left farmers in the proverbial lurch.

This price fluctuation over time is making farmers more vulnerable and it has a negative impact on their income-generation. Unfortunately, there is no crop cultivation guide and we have hardly seen anyone from the agriculture department coming to assess the ground realities as they keep working through outdated samples.

Agricultural subsidies have failed to benefit the needy farmers and the role of the middleman has added insult to injury. Recent reports about technical issues in the newly-introduced solar panels for tube wells and a huge financial loss of poor farmers have exposed the frailty of the system further.

If the government wants to boost production, improve food security and reduce poverty, it must reach out to the farmers who have really become more of a marginalised community in the country. Diversified farming of value added crops can be seen as a strategy to mitigate the uncertainties that the farmers face.

By providing quality seed on reasonable prices and helping them to purchase agriculture equipment, like tractors, harvesters, carrier trucks and land-levellers, the government can bring so much ease to the growers. This must also be noted that agro-tourism, if promoted properly, can do wonders as far as Nurpur Thal is concerned.

Lastly, I just want to ask the authorities concerned that at the pace the farm inputs have soared, what options do Nurpur Thal farmers are left with to keep investing? Should they wait for any miracle to address their grievances?

Amna Sarfraz Jasra
Nurpur Thal, Khushab

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2021



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