KARACHI: Prices of agriculture inputs have more than doubled in a year, weighing down on the profitability of farmers and adding to their hardships, which may hit the production hard, forcing the government to import staple commodities at inflated prices, a farmers' body said on Monday.
These concerns were raised in a meeting of Sindh Abadgar Board held in Hyderabad with Mahmood Nawaz Shah in the chair. The discussion was attended by Dr Bashir Nizamani, Dr Zulfiqar Yousfani, Aslam Mari, Imran Bozdar, Arbab Ahsan, Mehtab Lund, and growers of different districts.
During the meeting, serious alarms were raised about the ever-increasing cost of production for growers. The land-making costs have more than doubled, while growers were paying 25 percent over and above the company rates to buy urea (the largest used fertiliser) since November 2021, the meeting observed.
In addition to this, seed-cotton prices have reduced from Rs12,000/40kg in June to current Rs6,800. “Growers are unable to understand the basis on which the prices are falling so rapidly,” the meeting noted. “Even though the rupee has depreciated against the dollar and on that very pretext cost of inputs are being increased, the price of output is declining, which is alarming.”
The situation has complicated further due to a severe water shortage since March 2022. cotton has only been sown on 65 percent of the area, and the paddy which is usually sown more than 80 percent by this time, has not been cultivated on even 10 percent of the area.
In addition to this, the usual crops i.e., sugarcane, vegetables, fruits, etc, in many areas are affected by the shortage of water and rising costs of inputs. The meeting noted that the electricity supply was another factor crippling the rural economy, currently, on the pretext of planned load-shedding and faults, farmers are facing 14 to 16 hours of power outages a day.
“The repairs, small machinery, water pumps etc are therefore mostly non-operational adding to delays and diminishing productivity,” the growers. The board stressed that the increasing costs with the challenges of severe water shortage and climate change were likely to impact agriculture productivity negatively. “The farmers are going to suffer and consequently the economy when the government will be forced to spend billions of dollars to import staple commodities,” the growers warned.
They demanded that the government should, therefore and forthwith, stop the duty-free import of commodities being produced in Pakistan, control the costs of inputs, while ensuring rational minimum support prices for the farmers. “This support price should be based on the analysis and calculations of the government departments,” they urged.