Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said here Tuesday that growers are going through a serious crisis due to high prices of fertilizers, exploitation of sugarcane growers by the millers and lower prices of different crops including rice and cotton and increasing input prices.He was talking to newsmen after chairing the 119th extra ordinary general body meeting of the FAP.
The meeting was also attended by the FAP President Tariq Bucha, Hussein Jehanian Gardezi, Hamid Malhi, Farooq Bajwa and various other progressive farmers.
FAP Chairman alleged that middlemen in connivance with the state machinery were involved in huge profiteering whereas the government was busy in contempt case and memo scandal.
Nobody was paying heed to the problems of farming community that constituted around 70 percent of the total population, he added.
Farmers were still getting fertiliser at higher rates despite import of urea and subsidy of billion of rupees.He said that the FAP had suggested the government not to impose 16 percent General Sales Tax (GST) on agriculture tractors, but the government did not pay heed to the issue at that time and later reduced it to five percent on collapse of tractors manufacturing industry.FAP chairman said that they also proposed the government not to impose GST on fertilisers and pesticides, but it did not address farmers concerns.
Shortly, they would realise that farmers were right when agriculture production would drop.
Qureshi underscored that there was a need to introduce new technologies and high yielding seeds in agriculture.
He also expressed his concerns related to agriculture marketing and farm to market access.Speaking about Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, he said Pakistan should enhance trade with regional countries, including India, but the government should consult stakeholders before making any decision.
Earlier commenting on a USAID funded project’s Agri-Business Development Forum’s presentation during the meeting Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as one of the biggest mafias.
He also said there had been no bureaucracy in the world like officials of USAID.
He said such financing and encouraging a particular intervention by sponsor had never proved a lasting solution to a problem.
He added that such initiative ultimately proved a futile exercise.FAP chairman said that he knew a right hand of Obama, US President, who was the global chief of USAID, who gave him some commitment to work on certain projects by USAID, but with no development.
Effort should be made to maintain a distance with such agency, he observed.Regulatory Affairs Lead Monsanto Pakistan Muhammad Asim earlier through a presentation highlighted development in the field of genetically modified crops, terming it a major success for improving yield for burgeoning population of world.
In his presentation on New Agricultural Technologies in Corn, he claimed that biotechnology traits and herbicides helped farmers in improving productivity as well as reducing the costs of farming.
He said there was vast potential for improving production of corn in Pakistan due to its rising demand.He said weeds used to compete with corn for water and fertiliser, decreasing the production by 40-60 per cent.
Similarly, he added, no solution of American and Army worm attacking corn plants in local environment.
He claimed that his company’s under trial corn has 100 percent complete solution for curbing insect and weeds.
He stressed the need to allow commercial cultivation of GM corn in Pakistan keeping in view its promising results.Hamid Malhi and Bilal Israel, two participants, however, raised question over toxicity associated with GM seeds and issued related to cross pollination.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi also administered oath to the newly elected ‘District Governors’ of the FAP, an effort by the organisation to come out of the discussion rooms and ensure its liaison with the growers in the field to study their problems and ensure their remedy.