Farmers unhappy with govt's wheat support priceBreaking

May 04, 2024

The farmers are unhappy with the wheat support price announced by the Punjab government claiming it will not even cover their expenses incurred on the crops. They claimed that the Rs3,900 per 40kg support price will expose them to the exploitation of profiteers. Talking to WealthPK, Muhammad Iqrar, a farmer, said the government had fixed the wheat support price without taking the farmers and other stakeholders into confidence. He said the farmers were already facing multiple challenges, particularly the rapidly changing climate, and were trying to keep their body and soul together. He feared that the arbitrary decisions being taken by the Punjab government will aggravate the situation. "The low support price will leave countless farmers in an outlandish situation. We have spent a lot of money on good yields. But at this price, we will not be in a position to cover the actual expenses, let alone generate any profits," he added. He claimed that nothing was being done for the dejected farmers. "The government is increasing the rates of electricity, gas, petroleum products, essential goods, food items, medicines, fertilizers and agricultural implements. This approach towards agriculture will shatter the confidence of growers already facing many hardships," he lamented.

Recounting the hardships of farmers, Iqrar said renting a land cost a grower more than one lakh per acre, and the total expenses from sowing to harvesting amount to Rs75,000 to Rs80,000. Owing to the unbridled inflation, the small farmers are almost on the brink of default, he added. Ghulam Ahmed, another farmer from Jhang Road, claimed that the middlemen were roaming in different villages spreading misinformation that the government would not buy wheat this year due to the ample stocks. He explained to WealthPK that before Eid, they tried to sell their crops to the middlemen to cover the expenses. However, the middlemen offered an abysmally low price. Without announcing a good price, the farmers will not be in a position to sustain, he said. "Strict action must be taken against the middlemen who are intimidating the growers only for their vested interests. The government officials need to ensure the purchase of wheat directly from the farmers," he stressed. Iqrar criticized the government for harming the farmers' genuine interests by increasing the prices of inputs instead of providing them with relief. He cited the "unwise" wheat support price as an example. "The agriculture sector cannot sustain due to the anti-farmer policies," he warned.

"The government is taking artificial measures to arrest the trend of unbridled inflation. The rulers have to join hands with the farming community by announcing subsidies. This will encourage us to grow more crops, which will surely boost business activities and lower the prices of essential items for daily use," he added. He believed that only the agriculture sector had the potential to mitigate the financial issues being faced by the country. Bilal Ahmed, another farmer, told WealthPK that his brother tried to persuade him to abandon farming. "My brother suggested that I should sell our land and switch to another business for good profits." Bilal said because of inflation he was expecting that the government would announce a good support price for wheat, but ironically the rulers did otherwise. "In the current circumstances, we have to fight two challenges: one, sustainability of agriculture; second, to attract the youth to the fields." He said the farmers' children were preferring to go abroad instead of adopting farming. This situation will be disastrous for Pakistan's agriculture, he opined.

Credit: Independent News Pakistan