NO support price for rice crop has been announced while the Kharif season has entered its third month. I have planted rice seedlings on just 20 out of my 45 acres. I am indecisive whether or not to cultivate more rice this season,? says Muhammad Arif Mahar, a rice grower in Wazirabad, a village in Shikarpur district.
Majority of rice, cotton and sugarcane growers in Sindh have expressed their disappointment over the provincial government?s attitude towards their problems, whether it is an issue of support prices or provision of inputs at right prices. Farm experts blame agriculture, food and irrigation departments and say that the provincial government?s callous attitude towards the agriculture sector has not only reduced the per acre yield of various crops but also increased poverty, unemployment, and worsened law and order situation. ?The delay in announcement of support price has added to the growers? woes who are already suffering from acute irrigation water shortage, black-marketing of seeds and fertiliser in various parts of Sindh,? remarked Abdul Nabi Khan Brohi, Sindh Abadgar Board?s (SAB) president in Shikarpur district. He told this scribe on phone that due to delay in the announcement of support prices, the growers had planted rice seedlings on barely 20-25 per cent of farmlands in Shikarpur and Larkana districts. ?Much of these seedlings have dried due to shortage of irrigation water in these two districts,? Mr Brohi complained.
According to an estimate, Larkana and Shikarpur districts are the major rice growing areas which have 68 per cent share in total rice production in Sindh. SAB?s general secretary (Badin) Nawaz Memon painted a gloomy picture of cotton, rice and sugarcane crops in Badin district. ?As support price for cotton has not been announced so far, the frustrated growers have started picking cotton in Tando Bago, Talhar, Matli and Shaheed Fazil Rahu Talukas and are forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices,? informed Mr Memon. He said that on an average, 3-4 truckloads of cotton are sent daily from the cotton growing areas of Badin to open markets in the district to be sold merely at Rs1,500-1,600 per 40kg. Giving an overview of rice sowing in Badin district, Mr Memon said, ?paddy has been sown in some scattered areas, for the farmers are reluctant to sow it in absence of support price. But I think rice cultivation will pick up once a good support price is announced,? he said. ?Though Kharif crops? sowing started from mid-April in Sindh in dispirited mood, it will not gain momentum unless the support prices for major Kharif crops are announced?, believes Akhund Ghulam Muhammad, general secretary of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture.
Talking about growers? expectation for major Kharif crops, Abdul Majeed Nizamani, SAB?s president (Hyderabad chapter), told this scribe that given the rising costs of various farm inputs, the support price should at least be Rs750-850 for paddy and Rs1,900-2,000 for cotton per 40kg. The Sugarcane Control Board (SCB) has already announced a support price of Rs103 per 40kg for the upcoming crop, he said, and added that in the given circumstances, it was a good price.
Deputy Secretary (Technical), Sindh Agriculture Department, Muhammad Arif Khairi, says that the support price for Kharif crops including rice and cotton will be announced shortly. He said: ?Roughly speaking, the support prices will be announced by mid-July?, and predicted that ?the prices for major crops will be comparatively better keeping in view the mounting prices of farm inputs.? Sources in the provincial agriculture department told this scribe that concerned officials were in touch over the last one month with the Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal), and the Agricultural Prices Commission (Apcom) on the price mechanism for Kharif crops.
However, the agriculture department is still waiting for final word from Apcom on the support price announcement and it is expected in next couple of weeks,? the sources added.
Courtesy: The DAWN