The prices of different agricultural inputs have registered an increase of 70 to 100 percent during the last five years as compared to only 40-45 percent increase in prices of various produces, said Hasan Ali Chaniho, Director Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) and former Agriculture Minister Sindh here on Tuesday.
“There is an urgent need of bringing down the input cost of the agricultural sector as high prices are discouraging the use of fertilisers, pesticides and quality seed in required quantity thus negatively impacting per acre yield. Bringing down the prices would help increasing per acre yield leading to contribution in strengthening the national economy and enhancing the GDP, increasing income of the growers and eradication of poverty from the rural areas”, Chaniho said while speaking at a function arranged by the Agricultural Journalists Association (AJA), Lahore on “Increasing input cost of the agricultural sector” at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
AJA President Munawar Hassan, Vice President Sibghat Ullah Chaudhry, Secretary Finance Imran Adnan and others also attended the meeting. Hassan Ali spoke in detail about various factors hurting the agricultural growth in Pakistan including mushroom growth of seed companies leading to provision of highly impure and poor quality of different seeds.
He said that farmers could get seed of a same crop from Rs 100 per kilogram to 1000 per kilogram while there is no guarantee of quality. He called for regulating the seed sector and encouraging quality conscious companies.
He said BT cotton has replaced rice and sugarcane in Thatta, Badin and Tando Muhammad Adam but it faced issues of various pest attacks including armyworm last year and pink bollworm this year. Such attacks posed threats to crop that could be avoided by ensuing availability of certified BT cotton seed. He said that most important input in agriculture sector was water but in our country provinces situated on tail of water network were raising issue of shortage while those of upper riparian are complaining wasting water into sea.
However, he said there was a dire need for judicious use of water. A significant amount of water can be saved from canals to farm gate and at fields. Only about 50 percent of river water actually reaches at farm-gate through network of canals and we lose 10 to 15 per cent water on field due to seepage and obsolete irrigation practices, he observed.
Hassan said that agricultural sector has no proper credit line for various main crops rice while the available credit line is not disbursed efficiently, he claimed. He said it is ironic that diesel is available for commercial sector and food sector at the same rate while fertiliser prices had also registered inflation thus our agricultural production was continuously declining.
Sindh’s former agriculture minister was also complainant of low standard agriculture research and its reach. There is huge gap between agriculture research and farming community. Lack of availability of trained farm managers, important information such as different seed varieties and suitability for different sowing periods have been major issues confronting today’s agriculture sector, he observed.