LAHORE: The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) has requested the government to instruct the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to allow opening of Letter of Credits (LCs) for the imports of pesticides, seeds and agriculture machinery right away; otherwise, they would agitate countrywide.
“We urge the government to direct the SBP to open LCs for pesticides, seed, agriculture machinery and parts related imports right away; otherwise, we will support the industry stakeholders and demonstrate nationwide,” threatened PKI President Khalid Mehmood Khokhar on Sunday.
Shedding light on the emerging challenges to agriculture due to non-opening of LCs, Khalid said that top priority is given to food security around the world, but the situation in Pakistan is otherwise. He said that agriculture is a time bound activity and any operation is of no use if not taken at an appropriate time; hence, provision of input at right time is utmost important.
“For the imports of fertilizers like DAP and other phosphatic fertilizers, nutrients, etc., are also imported and they require opening their LCs. Pakistan import entire spectrum of insecticides and fungicides and formulate them in Pakistan,” he added.
From import to making readily available products requires 4 to 6 month time, he said, adding that pesticides not imported in time will effect coming Kharif crops in terms of pest management issues. He said cotton, which provides raw materials to our 60 percent export goods, will also suffer a lot as over 80 percent of the insecticides are exclusively used on this crop.
He added that other crops which will suffer due to non-availability of appropriate insecticides are rice, mango, citrus fruits, vegetables, maize and sunflower, etc. These crops are of vital importance for food security and foreign exchange earnings through exports, he pointed out.
The PKI president deplored that Pakistan has not invested sufficient on research and development (R&D) due to which our research institutes are unable to develop any hybrid seed so far. “Most of our crops rely on imported hybrid seeds and many of our agriculture products like rice, sunflower, canola, maize, vegetables, fodder and others require imported hybrid seeds,” he added.
Khalid said if LCs for such commodities were not opened at the right time area under these crops and national productivity will be negatively affected which will not only create shortage but also cause severe food inflation in local markets.
Many industries like edible oil, solvent, poultry and animal feed, fruit processing and others will have to reduce their production leading to unemployment and inflation, he predicted and said that agriculture machinery are also needed for mechanized production for efficient operation and since the LCs were not opened, the repair and maintenance of existing machinery could not be performed.
“The PKI believes that availability of agriculture input at right time is the responsibility of the government and a legitimate right of farmers. Any further delay would affect the livelihood of farmers by decreasing their productivity,” he added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023