LAHORE: The Punjab government has conveyed the concerns of wheat growers on minimum support price to the federal authorities, though without offering its own recommendations on the matter.

Agriculture Secretary Asad Rehman Gillani says some representatives of farmers called on Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and Agriculture Minister Syed Hussain Jahania Gardezi recently and expressed their worries about the rising cost of production of the wheat crop as rates of fertilizers, particularly phosphate-based compost, have shot through the roof at the time of wheat plantation.

Farmers believed that the Rs1,950 per 40kg minimum wheat support price announced by the federal government a few weeks ago was unable to meet the higher cost of production of the crop, Mr Gillani says.

They argued in the meetings that diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilizer used to be sold at Rs3,300 per bag at the time of wheat sowing last year, but its rate has gone up to Rs8,500 this season besides increase in prices of other farm inputs, he says.

The secretary says that the provincial government decided to convey these concerns to the federal authorities and accordingly his office wrote a letter, containing reservations of the farming community about the support price, to Islamabad.

An official related to ascertaining the production cost of various crops, however, says that the higher rates of fertilizers had been accommodated to some extent in the wheat cost of production for the 2021-22 season. According to him, the relevant agriculture wing had considered the DAP rate at Rs6,500 per bag while calculating the production cost of the crop. With 25 percent of profit margin, the indicative price of wheat has been suggested at Rs2,085 per 40kg, he says, claiming the farmers will not be in loss and only their profit margin will reduce even if the government does not revise upward the minimum support price.

Kisan Ittehad president Khalid Mahmood Khokhar, however, is upbeat that the federal government will give a positive response to the plight of wheat growers.

He warns of wheat smuggling out of the country if the government does not increase the support price because the rate of grains in the international market is ranging between Rs2,500 and Rs2,600 per 40kg at present.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2021

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