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LAHORE: Strongly criticising the raids by districts administrations to obtain harvested wheat from farmers to meet the procurement target, the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) claimed on Monday that farmers are not even being allowed to retain their crop for their personal use or seed purposes for the next crop.

The food department and the district administration are desperate to achieve their procurement targets to the extent that they are seizing the seed and hundreds of bags of basic seed of a new variety Bhakar Starhas, whose multiplication and processing rights were purchased by a leading seed company, said PKI President Khalid Khokhar in a statement issued the other day.

He further alleged that despite having all the required documents and registration with the federal seed certification and registration department, the food department did not release the seed and instead mixed it into food grains.

In major cities, the price of wheat has reached Rs5,000 per 40kg in the first week of May. The department and the government’s short-sightedness and poor governance will negatively impact the wheat production for the next year. Pakistan already has a low national average yield, and if certified seed is not available next year, the yield will further decrease, Khokhar added.

He alleged it shows a lack of commitment, seriousness and absence of long-term vision for food security. The government should focus on mafia so that common man can get wheat at the same price throughout the year.

The PKI President regretted that the country had not expanded its cultivable area for a long time, and the command area in major irrigation projects had not been developed due to bad governance and a non-serious attitude of governments. “If this continues, it will be difficult to feed the growing population. Pakistan is adding a population equivalent to that of New Zealand every year thus heavily relying on imported food commodities,” he added.

The farmer body requested the army chief to intervene in the agriculture sector for the sake of country’s food security. The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad strongly supported the proposal of expanding the agriculture land to bring more area under crops. The current bad governance in the name of wheat procurement programmes and seizing wheat seed from seed companies needs to be addressed to ensure food security in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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