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LAHORE: Pakistan Kisan Ittehad (PKI) has warned the government of a twin disaster of severe shortage of wheat and urea as Russia and Ukraine will not be exporting wheat and urea after sanctions on their banks and closure of SWIFT mechanism.

To avoid any shortage, it recommended the government to keep all urea manufacturing plants running to ensure its availability in abundance, stopping smuggling of urea and wheat through Afghanistan and importing 300,000 tons of Urea urgently.

Pakistan Kisan Ittehad (PKI) President Khalid Mahmood Khokhar while talking to newsmen here on Monday said Russia is the largest exporter of both wheat and urea and sanctions on it will lead sudden stoppage of around 30 per cent of the global wheat export and 19 per cent of global urea export.

He repeated his past claim that urea is being openly smuggled to Afghanistan through the Chaman and Torkhum borders in large quantities. Afghani brokers are openly purchasing Urea by the truckloads in the Goth machi, Daharki, Multan urea mandis. The price advantage for smugglers to smuggle has increased many times due to Ukraine conflict. Price of Urea in Pakistan is Rs. 2000 per bag and international price is Rs 10,000 per bag. Same smuggling mechanism will be used for wheat not just to Afghanistan but to Central Asia also, he added.

He said neighbouring country India imports around 11 million tons Urea every year. Import of urea by India for coming Kharif season will make Urea very expensive to import for Pakistan. Shortage or high price of Urea and other fertilizers will have severe impact on food crops such as wheat, sugarcane and corn. DAP price has also been increased by one Urea manufacturer to Rs 10,000 per bag and may increase further due high international price. Pakistan will NOT be able to produce enough Wheat, Sugarcane and Corn without Urea and other fertilizers, he claimed.

While making recommendations, Khalid Mahmood Khokhar besides submitting above mentioned proposals also called for increasing wheat support price to ensure farmers plant more wheat.

Direct payment of subsidy to farmers must be ensured for Urea, DAP and Potash fertilizers. Prices of all fertilizers are increasing in international market due to conflict between Russia and Ukraine. If Wheat Support Price is not increased, then farmers will be forced to plant Canola which give better returns, has shorter duration, requires less fertilizer and also fixes nitrogen in the soils, reducing need for Urea. BUT, canola and other similar crops will not substitute the need for wheat as a food crop in the country. Early maturing of canola will mean farmer will be able to plant cotton early. Food security will remain a big issue, Khalid Khokhar added.

Government should immediately consider above recommendations and take action. Otherwise, Pakistan will lose out in a big way, PKI President concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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