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LAHORE: Farmers from corn growing areas have expressed their apprehensions to achieve productivity target of coming spring season corn crop due to consistent shortage of urea and higher rates of other types of fertilizers coupled with imposition of 17 percent sales tax on its imported seed.

“Farmers under the prevailing circumstances will either go for the low-priced local maize seed and using less fertilizers, ultimately compromising the crop productivity creating shortage of this popular food among the dairy and poultry industry,” said Aamer Hayat Bhandara, a corn farmer from the Pakpattan district, while talking to Business Recorder here on Tuesday.

Maize in Pakistan is a success story in the recent years with higher productivity and climate compatibility, particularly the spring corn share is much higher than the autumn crop which is in area approximately 55 percent and more than 70 percent in crop production while ensuring the national food security in Pakistan.

He said as spring corn has a critical role in the Pakistan’s national food security, the upcoming crop may be a challenging one for the farming community ultimately passing the impacts to the common man.

The demand of fertilizer for wheat is about to close and now the next big crop is spring corn. After passing the supplementary finance, the prices of most of the high yeilding hybrids seeds are increased by 17 percent, the price of basic fertilizer DAP is reaching Rs 10,000 per bag, SOP price is increased by the distribution companies at 11,500 per bag and the third major fertilizer Urea is not widely available for the farmers in the controlled rate to meet the crop requirement achieving high yield of 120 mounds per acre.

Now it looks farmers will either go for the low price local maize seed and using less fertilizer, ultimately compromising the crop productivity and creating shortage for the dairy and poultry industry need raising more inflation in the localities, or investing more money into the high yielding hybrids using expensive fertilizer which will in the end increase the production costs creating another pressure for the end users.

“We as a nation must have to keep in mind that the increased cost of cultivation due to higher fertilizer prices and sales tax on seed, farmers will be inclined to switch to lower investment crops which can lead us to another food challenge in future,” said Aamer.

Abad Ur Rehman, another progressive leader from Okara district, said though doubts are hitting minds of farmers for availability of urea in the corn season as more quantity of urea and DAP fertilizers are required for corn crop as compared to wheat.

However, he hoped that the urea being imported by the government would reach the country after February 10, 2022. Corn sowing starts by the end of January and application of fertilizers is required after 20-25 days of sowing. So hopefully, imported urea and local industry would be able to meet that demand by that time.

Nevertheless, he warned that the government should take all-out steps that no more smuggling of urea should happen during this period to make the next corn crop as successful as it remained in the past.

DG Agriculture (Extension) Punjab Dr Anjum Ali Buttar said that corn will be sown on an area of around 1.1 million acres of land in the province. However, he hoped that now things are stable, international prices of urea is declining, so there will be no major impact on corn crop. He said urea is mostly used from November to mid-January and corn season starts from end-January.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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