Farmers warn of low yield

LAHORE: Farmers have demanded the government should ensure opening of letters of credit (LCs) of farm inputs to make the country food secure and prevent food inflation.

“The government should direct the State Bank of Pakistan to make arrangement for opening of the LCs for import of pesticides, seed, agriculture machinery and [related] parts right away to ensure food security of the country and prevent inflation likely to be caused due to shortage of wheat, rice, maize, fruits and vegetables, as a result of decline in their yield because of unavailability of farm inputs, especially seed,” Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) president Khalid Mahmood Khokhar says in a statement here on Sunday.

He says the agriculture is a time-bound activity and any action will be of no use if not taken at an appropriate time. Hence, he says, availability of farm inputs at right time has utmost importance for the sector. Fertilisers like DAP and other phosphate nutrients etc are also imported and require timely opening of their LCs, he adds.

Mr Khokhar says Pakistan also imports insecticides and fungicides to manufacture pesticides locally, and it takes four to six months from import to manufacturing of the products to be available in the market.

The farmers’ representative warns that any delay in import of pesticides will affect the Kharif crops in terms of pest management. Such delay, he says, will especially hit cotton, which provides raw material for 60 percent export goods, as over 80pc of the insecticides are exclusively used on this crop. Other crops that will suffer because of non-availability of appropriate insecticides, include rice, maize, sunflower, besides mango, citrus and vegetables etc, that are vital for national food security and earning foreign exchange through exports, Mr Khokhar stressed.

Referring to poor agriculture research in the country, he says due to insufficient investment local research institutes could not develop any hybrid seed so far and most of the indigenous crops relied on imported seeds.

He says the delay in opening of LCs will also impact many industries, like those of edible oil, solvents, poultry and animal feed, fruit processing etc, that will have to reduce their production leading to unemployment and inflation in the country.

PKI head adds that agriculture machinery is also needed for mechanised production and efficient operation, and if LCs of related imports are not opened, repair and maintenance of the existing equipment could not be carried out.

Date: 16-Jan-2023