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LAHORE: Higher electricity rates and its unavailability, increased rates of petroleum products and shortage of water coupled with recently imposed super tax has made the agriculture a business of loss which might pose severe threats to rice and future crops leading to food security issues in the country.

“The government must ensure that if it imposed any tax, prices of products produced earlier than enforcement of that levy should not increase forthwith. Elements with vested interests take advantage of every new tax to mint money as are happening in the cases of fertilizer, prices of which are now sky rocketing in the market,” alleged Abad-ur-Rehman Khan Director Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) and a rice and maize grower.

Talking to Business Recorder on Saturday, Abad said he had 20 acres of land ready with paddy nursery for plantation but finding it very hard to start transplantation as canal water in his area is not available. He alleged that Punjab had compromised its canal water share to give more to Sindh but left its own farmers at the mercy of rains or using tube wells run on electricity or diesel.

He said electricity rates are very high now and it is not available even on those rates. Similarly, he said diesel prices had also increased to new heights by the present government which is making it impossible for the growers using the diesel fired tube wells.

Abad-ur-Rehman also claimed that prices of SOP and MOP (Potassium based fertilizers) had also increased after imposition of super tax. The MOP which was being used by farmers due to cheaper rates had reached Rs 11,000 per bag from earlier Rs 4,000 per bag. He said people do take advantage of government policies but the government should ensure that no unjustifiable advantage should be taken by the unscrupulous elements.

Agriculture Republic Co-founder Aamer Hayyat Bhandara said that the government should keep in mind that majority of the population of Pakistan or Punjab lives in rural areas and any new fiscal measures impact that population directly.

He said no businessman bears brunt of any new tax or levy as he passes it on to the consumers immediately or after some time. “The government should control the prices of commodities or input items in such a scenario but it seemed there is no governance under the present regime,” he alleged.

He said as the agriculture is backbone of Pakistan’s economy and our two major exports rely on this sector. The government should make it sure that input cost of the farmers should not reach a level where they find it impossible to carryout farming.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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