The Kissan Raaj Tehreek (Farmers’ Rule Movement) has castigated a package announced by the premier for the agricultural sector for being “a package for industrialists and traders, not for farmers”. In reaction to the package, Movement Chairman Arsalan Khan Khakwani claimed on Tuesday that the package hardly stabilise the dwindling prices of different agricultural commodities including cotton, rice, maize, sugarcane and vegetables.
“It cannot satisfy millions of farmers of this country. The falling prices of agricultural commodities are the major issue being faced by the farmers at present, but this package is totally silent over this issue. The second problem is the flat rates of electricity for agricultural tube-wells which has also not been addressed either,” he added.
Commenting on the announcement of giving Rs 5,000 per acre to cotton and rice farmers, He said such an announcement was made in the past, too, but it was never implemented. He feared that the new announcement would also be put in the cold store by the bureaucracy, leaving the farmers empty handed.
He also claimed that the announcement of reducing the fertiliser bag prices by Rs 500 would merely benefit manufacturers. “Similarly, the solar energy package will benefit the solar industry and its traders.” He said sugar millers had to pay billion of rupees to the farmers “but they are still awaiting their payments despite many tall claims being made by the governments [the federal and provincial]”. “Agriculture has become a trade of deficit.”
He then reiterated his demand that the government fix the sugarcane support prices at Rs 280 per maund, wheat at Rs 1,500 per maund, non-basmati paddy at Rs 1,200 per maund and basmati at Rs 2500 per maund. He made it clear that he would continue with his protest movement and with a sit-in on October 8 in Islamabad and that this sit-in would carry on till the acceptance of the demands.
Yet, Basmati Growers Association President Chaudhry Hamid Malhi has welcomed a government decision of giving Rs 5,000 per acre to the cotton and rice farmers having landholding below 12.5 acres. He has also hailed the announcement made on solar tube-wells and agricultural credits, saying the package shows the government has revised its priorities and now taking the politics in a positive direction.