ALTHOUGH there is hardly any country around the globe which is immune to crises, Pakistan holds a unique place in a sense that the country perpetually remains in the throes of crises. Lurching from one crisis to the next is a constant feature in the lives of Pakistanis.
The last year was an example of it. Just as one crisis appeared to be over, another reared its ugly head. Indeed, there were times when crises overlapped each other. As the new year began, people found themselves queuing up for flour and sugar, while their brethren in the farming community stood in long lines and jostled to procure fertiliser for the wheat crop.
The urea fertiliser crisis is in full swing at a time when it is needed the most, and what is more perplexing is that the farmers have been left to their own devices. Hoarders are enjoying an open season, making quick money by creating a deliberate di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) shortage during the sowing season. The profiteers are making fortunes as the farmers are left to fend for themselves.
With fertiliser being sold at much higher prices, small farmers tend to stay away from the crop as wheat is no more considered a profitable option. The situation is bound to lead to a wheat crisis of unprecedented proportions in the days ahead.
Sadly, even this full-blown crisis seems to be not serious enough to shake the relevant authorities out of complacency. The district administrations across Punjab are practically doing nothing save posing for some photo shoots to satisfy the high-ups.
This is an alarming situation that warrants measures on a war footing. The provincial government must intervene and spring the administration into action, otherwise the unavailability of fertiliser at this juncture would land the country into yet another flour crisis, perhaps the worst yet, that will be pretty hard to deal with for one and all.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2022