ISLAMABAD: The farmers' associations on Saturday termed the budget 2021-22 unsatisfactory for the agriculture sector, saying there was nothing substantial in reducing the cost of production or promotion of agriculture research -- vital factors for an increase in production of various crops.
The consensus was that Rs12 billion allocation in the budget for the agriculture sector was not sufficient, and there was a need for more allocation as agriculture was the largest sector of the economy.
Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) president Khalid Mehmood Khokhar said that the government made no allocation in the budget for reducing cost of production.
He said that the government needed to provide subsidy on fertilizers and reduce tariffs and fix the electricity rate at Rs5.35 per unit on agricultural tube-wells to cut the cost of production.
He said that the DAP fertilizer in the country was being sold at Rs5,600 a bag while in India it was sold (Pakistani rupees equivalent) at Rs2,400 a bag. The price of urea in Pakistan is Rs1800 per bag while the rate of per bag of the same fertilizer in India (in Pakistani rupee equivalent) is Rs550, he added.
"If concrete steps are not taken to reduce the cost of production, the farmers will not be able to use agriculture inputs which would reduce the crop output and increase the country's import bill," he added.
Khokhar said that the government had also failed to announce a comprehensive plan for revival of declining cotton production which would further effect cotton production in the country.
However, he acknowledged that provision of interest-free loans to poor farmers, abolishment of the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on tractors and not imposing 10 percent General Sales Tax (GST) on fertilizers and pesticides would give some relief to the farmers' community.
Sindh Abadgar Ittihad (SAI) president Nawab Muhammad Taimur Talpur said that the government has completely ignored the agriculture sector in the budget 2021-22 as it allocated only Rs12 billion for agriculture sector which contributes 19.2 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment to around 38.5 percent of the labour force.
"The government did not announce any subsidy on fertilizers or reduce electricity tariff for agriculture tube-wells," he added.
Talpur said that the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had fixed power tariff on agriculture tube-wells at Rs5.35 per unit, and the present government increased it to Rs12 per unit.
He said that out of Rs12 billion earmarked for agriculture sector in the budget, Rs1 billion is for locust emergency and food security projects, Rs2 billion for enhancing productivity of rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane and pulses, Rs1 billion for enhancing oil cultivation on commercial scale and Rs3 billion for improvement of water courses. However, Talpur acknowledged some good things in the budget for farmers including the announcement of interest-free loans on every crop and abolishment of the FED on tractors.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021