LAHORE: Farmers and their representative organisation are complaining about either non-availability of fertilisers or overcharging by the dealers at a crucial time when the wheat, the staple food of the country, is being sown and the government is pressing to bring the maximum area under its cultivation to ensure food security.
The Punjab government has fixed the wheat sowing target for the season 2023-24 at 16 million acres to achieve a target of 25.6 million tons. Sources in the provincial Agriculture department said the target had been estimated by achieving the per acre yield of 40 maunds.
Aamer Hayat Bhandara, co-founder of Agriculture Republic & Digital Dera, while talking to the Business Recorder on Monday, said wheat sowing had just started, and farmers were facing non-availability of different fertilizers, including DAP and urea on government-prescribed rates.
He said the government, especially the Punjab chief minister, was focusing on wheat sowing to achieve better production and taking positive steps as he had taken during the cotton season.
However, he claimed that the normal urea price was Rs 4200-4500 per bag against the government-prescribed price of Rs 3600 per bag, while DAP prices were hovering around Rs 13500 per bag. Similarly, he said urea with zinc, a product of a certain company, was available at Rs 4900 to 5000 per bag. He claimed that the urea manufacturing companies had stopped taking bookings at this crucial juncture, which was a great concern.
Abad-ur-Rehman, a progressive farmer from Chicha Watni, commented on the situation and said that black marketing or over-charging of the fertilizer was being experienced during the peak season of every crop.
He said the government had double governance standards; when a farmer produced anything, he was forced to sell it at the government price, and when he produced in excess, there was nobody to buy it even on the support price. He alleged that the fertilizer manufacturing companies do not follow the price mechanism.
Meanwhile, according to a source in the provincial agriculture department, there was no fertilizer shortage. However, he admitted that the DAP was available at expensive rates in the market.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023