Farmers to protest curbs on import inputs

LAHORE: Pakistan Kissan Itehad (PKI) has threatened to launch protest movement if restrictions on import of agricultural inputs are not withdrawn.

Talking to media here on Sunday, Khalid Mehmood Khokhar, PKI president, demanded the government direct the State Bank of Pakistan to open Letter of Credits (LCs) of pesticides, seeds, agriculture machinery and other related import right away; otherwise, PKI would stand with relevant importers and demonstrate nation-wide.

“I would like to divert the attention of the government towards the likely agriculture crisis emerging due to non-opening of LCs of agriculture related imports. Pakistan being agriculture country providing food security which has become top priority in the world, including Pakistan and boarder security became second priority, would suffer a lot, he observed.

He reminded that agriculture was a time bound activity any operation was of no use if not taken at appropriate time, hence provision of input at right time is utmost important.

Fertilizers like DAP and other phosphatic fertilizers, nutrients etc. They were also imported and required to open their LCs for timely import, PKI leaders said, adding Pakistan imports the entire spectrum of insecticides and fungicides and formulas in Pakistan. From import to making it readily available product requires four to six months time. Pesticides not imported in time will affect Kharif crop in terms of pest management issues, he cautioned.

Cotton, he maintained, provides raw material to our 60 percent export goods. Failure in taking timely action will suffer a lot as over 80 percent of the insecticides are exclusively used on this crop.

Other crops which suffer due to non-availability of appropriate insecticides are rice, mango, citrus, other fruits, vegetables, maize, sunflower etc. These crops are of vital importance for food security and foreign exchange earnings through exports.

Pakistan has not invested sufficient on R&D and our research institute has not developed any hybrid seed so far. Most of our crops rely on imported hybrid seeds. Many of our agriculture production like rice, sunflower, canola, maize, vegetables food etc. It requires imported hybrid seeds, which he added.

Khokhar warned that if LCs for such commodities were not opened at the right time area under these crops and national productivity would be negatively affected. It 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 etc. They will have to reduce their production leading to unemployment and inflation.

Agriculture machinery is also needed for mechanized production for efficient operation and LCs of such import were not opened repair and maintenance of existing lots of machinery could not be performed and mechanization would be hauled, he opened.

Considering the importance of agriculture in long-term perspectives of food security and an easy tool to curb inflation of imports of agriculture related items may be facilitated by opening LCs on priority. Pakistan Kissan Itehad thinks availability of agriculture input at right time is the responsibility of the government and a legitimate right of farmers. Any further delay may also affect the livelihood of farmers by decreasing their productivity, he concluded.

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