Chairman of the Committee Makhdoom Syed Ahmed Alam Anwar in a letter to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that the new increased support price for wheat needed in order to provide encouragement and incentive to the wheat growers at the present time of wheat plantation season.
"The members of the standing committee on food and agriculture have unanimously expressed great concern for the plight and hardship of the wheat grower of Pakistan", he said. The letter released to press also said that due to escalation in the price level of essential inputs like DAP fertiliser and the diesel oil, the margin of the wheat growers' share of income has been substantially squeezed to such an extent that they might not have enough of incentive to cultivate the wheat crop to the required extent.
Maize and sunflower cultivation are economically more lucrative options for the growers as their profit margin exceeds that of wheat, he asserted. "The Committee considers that wheat production and self- sufficiency in our country has a strategic significance and this ensures the biological survival of the population of our country and our respect and recognition in the international community".
"In view of these reasons, we must generate an incentive for the wheat cultivation in our country to prevent famines or scarcity of wheat", he further stated. The committee, therefore, he pointed out, has recommended that the government should announce Rs 550/- as the support price of wheat for the coming wheat production year.
Also the government must manage and provide DAP fertiliser within the range of Rs1000/ per bag by increasing the subsidy on DAP fertiliser. "The government must counter and check the smuggling of wheat to other countries". The members of the committee, Mr Anwar, said, believed that their recommendations have been visualised in the best interest of the people of Pakistan as to avert a possible calamity which could have been caused by the continued state of despair of the wheat growers.
"We wanted the farmer to invest and not hesitate from investing on wheat plantation; and not delay the process of wheat plantation." The members of the committee are fully aware and realise that the wheat grower, who have kept up, and upheld the tradition of wheat plantation despite unfavourable odds in his way-is doing, while believing that it is a noble and graceful act on his part. "He is performing a national service; he is ensuring the biological survival of the population. He is contributing to our country's respect and recognition in the international community".
It is estimated that about 2 crores of acres are most likely to be brought under wheat cultivation by the wheat farming community, Anwar added. Due to escalation in the cost of essential inputs for wheat plantation like the present price of DAP fertiliser, cost of diesel; herbicides; higher cost of irrigating the fields, the cost of quality wheat seed, the share of profit for the wheat grower has been substantially diminished.
It would be most unfair on the part of government and on the part of the entire system and Establishment to expect that the wheat grower will continue to grow wheat simply on the basis of upholding his past traditions of wheat cultivation, when other economically more viable options are available for him to follow to sustain himself, he warned.
If the farmer decides to grow sunflower, sugar cane, chillies, maize, instead of wheat, the consequences to our economy would be grave and catastrophic. "We will have to spend more of our precious foreign exchange on import of wheat-at a much higher price; in a way we would be helping and providing our indigenous market to the wheat grower of Australia or Brazil or USA instead of being fair and caring to the wheat cultivator of Pakistan".
Anwar alleged that the members of cabinet of Prime Minister Shoukat Aziz have shown utter lack of foresight and incompetence of rational decision making when they, in their thought give preference to the behaviours of urban voters in the coming elections. When in reality, this will neither affect the present market price nor the behaviour pattern of voters.
Declaration of next years support price of wheat will be relevant for the next years wheat harvest time which is April, May 2008; it is not going to cause any impact on the present price level of wheat, because the factors which are determining the present price of wheat are availability of stocks of wheat reserves.He was of th view that declaration of revised support price of Rs550 will play a most crucial role in boosting the spirits of the wheat grower; in inducing him to select the option of wheat cultivation vis-vis sunflower or maize etc. in providing him an encouragement when he is finding himself devastated by the impact of Meley Bug pest which has destroyed a considerable percentage of our cotton area in Sindh and Punjab alike. Meley bug's devastating attack on cotton crop has also reduced the farmer's capability to spend on wheat cultivation - and consequently it causes a shortfall in our wheat production, he said.
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