KARACHI: Sindh Abadgar Board has demanded the government to withdraw sales tax on fertilisers and pesticides and waive off tube well electricity bills for six months to support the crippled...
KARACHI: Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) has demanded the government to withdraw sales tax on fertilisers and pesticides and waive off tube well electricity bills for six months to support the crippled agriculture economy.
One of the leading growers’ bodies of Sindh, SAB, held its monthly meeting on Saturday through an online portal amid lockdown against coronavirus threat. SAB Senior Vice President Mehmood Nawaz Shah chaired the meeting.
Participants of the meeting expressed deep concern of no support given to the agriculture sector which provides employment to 42 percent of the population, by far the largest employment providing sector. Therefore, they demanded that the federal and provincial governments should provide relief to the agricultural economy.
Agriculture was passing through difficult times. Thus, fruit and vegetable exports should be allowed to Afghanistan, Iran and other world, while unhindered movement of cargo, commodities, fruits and vegetables be allowed in the country, the board said.
It also demanded development of a medium to long-term strategy for state of the art storages, processing and smart infrastructure to enable the agricultural economy to sustain shocks.
Agricultural economy due to the lockdown has suffered major losses in milk, tomatoes, banana, cauliflower, and green chillies, which have seen rate declines of 40 percent to 70 percent after the lockdown. Lack of cold chain, processing and storing infrastructure was bleeding the agricultural economy. Tomatoes and milk were being wasted as there were no buyers.
Unlike industrial production, agriculture cannot be shut and started at will, the meeting noted.
While the overall irrigation supply was satisfactory, growers noted, there was extreme water shortage in Khairpur area which was hampering the sowing of kharif crops.
The ban on the movement of labour was already impacting tomato harvesting in Larkana and Shikarpur districts. Labour was required in the harvesting of mangoes.
Not compromising the health, and with certain SOPs the movement of labour should be allowed and facilitated, this would also help in employment generation in current difficult times, growers urged. In many districts the orders of free movement and opening of the agricultural services was not being implemented in letter and spirit, they noted.
Vehicles were being stopped, and small repair and puncture shops, and other necessary agri services were affected in the province, especially in Mirpurkhas district.
The meeting also noted that wheat purchase centres have not been established yet despite wheat harvesting season being at a peak.
Out of about 3.8 million tons of wheat production, the government buys 25 percent approximately. Free movement of the grain was necessary, the meeting participants reminded, demanding the government to allow inter provincial and intra provincial movement of wheat to arrest the falling rate of wheat.
Price of wheat has declined to Rs1,330 from Rs1,570, SAB meeting participants said.