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Sindh exempts agriculture supply chain from lockdown in view of Kharif season

March 27, 2020

KARACHI: Keeping in view the demand for fertiliser, seed, and pesticides for the upcoming Kharif season (April-June), the Sindh government has decided to exempt the agriculture supply chain from the lockdown against the coronavirus pandemic.

Sindh Minister for Agriculture Muhammad Ismail Rahoo told The News that they took the decision on request of the growers. However, he said that only registered shops and agents would be spared from the ban.

Such instructions have also been given to the home department by Sindh government for issuance of notification. He said Kharif season was about to start in the province, and if agriculture supply chain was closed, major crops of the season; cotton and paddy would not be sown. “Vegetable and fruit production will also suffer,” Ragoo added.

He said that closure of this supply chain would develop another crisis of food. The provincial minister advised all deputy commissioners and police officers not to get these shops closed during the day time.

Earlier, Federal Ministry of National Food Security and Research in a notification on March 22, advised all provincial governments to exempt agriculture supply chain from lockdown.

“It is requested that outlets/supply chain of agriculture inputs (pesticide/fertiliser/seed) may be exempted during the said lockdown to confirm the timely availability of

agriculture inputs and their application in the field,” the notification read.

“This will ensure food security in the country and to meet estimated production targets of all crops.” Punjab government has already exempted the complete agriculture supply chain from lockdown.

Nisar Khaskhely, a leader of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA), said that opening of supply chain was must as vegetable rates had increased after the lockdown. At the start of the lockdown, trade was closed with Afghanistan and Iran, which affected the movement of banana.

Banana rates have fallen down to Rs600/maund from Rs1,200/maund. “Banana has shelf life of only three days, we cannot store it,” he said. “Currently, banana crop worth millions of rupees has become rotten.”

Khaskhely said that crops were suffering from supply chain disruption. “Sugarcane is suffering from pest, it needs spray. Mango needs spray after flowering. It will be harvested in June. It can’t wait for any one,” he added.

In order to strengthen food security, the SCA leader said there was need to save the agriculture supply chain from closure and disruptions.

Mehmood Nawaz Shah, senior vice president, Sindh Abadgar Board, said that lockdown was affecting growth of fruits and vegetables that needed spray amid pest attacks, but pesticide shops were closed.

Welcoming the Sindh government decision to exempt agriculture supply chain from lockdown, he urged to also lift ban on inter-district movement of wheat. He said 4 to 4.5 million tons of wheat were expected, but growers were restricted from selling while the Sindh Food Department was also not procuring the grain.

“Administrative measures were not fully implemented and wheat was being transported after paying bribe at check posts,” he alleged. Shah said the government should ensure opening of supply chain, as Kharif season was to start where 1.5 million acre cotton would be sown, and after a month’s gap 1.2 million acre paddy would also be sown in the province.