Various representative bodies of farmers have demanded reduction in prices of fertiliser at least by Rs 500 per 50 KG bag, as urea price has sharply dropped in the international market. Chairman Pakistan Agri-Forum Dr Ibrahim Mughal was particularly critical of local fertiliser manufacturers, who despite getting cheap gas were sell urea at exorbitant prices.
Dr Mughal recalled that when the urea manufactories were getting subsidised gas at the rate of Rs 103 per MMBTU, about five years ago, they sold 50 KG bag at the rate of Rs 750. Now the government is supplying gas to the fertiliser manufacturing units at the rate of Rs 130 per MMBTU, the companies are selling urea at the rate of Rs 1700 per 50 KG bag.
He said the international fertiliser manufacturing units buy gas, the basic ingredient of urea, at the rate of Rs 440 per MMBTU, and they sell the commodity at the rate of Rs 2250 per bag. He said local fertiliser manufacturing units annually produce five million tons (100 million 50 KG bags) urea but the utilisation of fertilisers has dropped by 15 to 20 percent due to unaffordable prices of urea, resultantly Pakistan’s crops yield is on the decline while population is on the increase.
President Basmati Growers Association Hamid Malhi said that the agriculture sector was not a priority of the Punjab government as it has left the farming community atthe mercy of the market manipulating forces. He said that Kharif crops cotton, rice, sugarcane, maize, vegetables and fodder were the backbone of Pakistan’s economy but the government was not moved to support the agriculture sector by supplying inputs to the farmers at reason prices.
Malhi said that agriculture sector needed at least 30 million bags of 50 KG for Kharif crops. As there has been a steep fall in the prices of fertiliser in the international market by about $100 per ton, it is incumbent upon the federal and provincial government to provide a relief of Rs 500 per bag. He emphasised that poverty alleviation could only be done by boosting agriculture production.