KARACHI: Sindh on Saturday called the support price for wheat announced by the federal government anti-farmers because it is inversely proportional to high production costs.
Ismail Rahu, the provincial agriculture minister said the government’s claim to a 400 percent increase in wheat prices was unfounded. The price went against farmers’ interests and was expected to result in a wheat shortage, he said.
As the wheat harvest had just started, the federal government set the wheat price at Rs 1,800 per 40 kilograms, while the provinces set it at Rs2,000 per 40 kg.
“Prices of agricultural machinery, fertilizers, seeds and pesticides have increased 150 percent and this will be the first time prices have varied in Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan,” Rahu said in a statement.
“We will not support the federal government’s decision, which goes against the farmers. Farmers are not given their rights. Instead of providing assistance to farmers, Imran Khan’s government supported the wheat mafia. “
The provincial minister said the price of wheat was raised to Rs 1,800 per 40 kg from Rs 1,400 per 40 kg, which was only an increase of 28.5 percent, while the Sindh government raised the price by Rs 600 per 40 kg, a price increase of 43 percent.
Mehmood Nawaz Shah, senior vice president of the Sindh Abadgar Council supports the Sindh government’s grain tariffs, but called for the immediate opening of a procurement center in the province, which has often been criticized for handing responsibility over to the private sector.
“The rate is realistic considering the cost of production,” said Shah. “However, we want the government to immediately open a procurement center.
The provincial government, however, said it bought 1.2 million tonnes last year in addition to 117,000 tonnes of imported wheat from the federal government. They set a target for wheat procurement at 1.4 million tonnes for the 2020/21 harvest, adding to the 800,000 tonnes stock carried. Production in the province is expected to reach four million tonnes.
After the 18th amendment to the constitution, provinces became independent to announce their own support prices, causing variable prices across the country.
Shah said if the Sindh government was sincere and serious about giving the announced prices to farmers, they should immediately open a procurement center as the wheat harvest had been going well since March 1 in the province.
“If a procurement center is not available, traders buy wheat at a price of Rs1,800 per 40 kg, which reaches Rs2,400 per 40 kg before the harvest begins,” he said.
“The government has imposed a ban on movement of wheat from three districts of Sanghar, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad. The ban must be lifted and grain free movement should be allowed which will benefit the farmers. “