Farmers’ Snags and food security

Thousands of farmers have gathered in the nation’s capital and staged an indefinite sit-in under the umbrella of the Kissan Ittihad at the edge of Islamabad’s highly sensitive Red Zone. The farmers are pressing the government to approve a long wishlist which includes the restoration of the previous tube well electricity tariff of Rs 5.3 per unit, removal of all taxes, along with fuel price adjustments. They also demand an end to the black marketing of fertilizers and a reduction in the Urea fertilizer. The Kissan Ittihad also demands the government deal with the agriculture sector as an industry in the country.

The farmers claimed that the government had not yet sent any delegation to negotiate with them and only local administration engaged them so far. The agriculture sector and growers are facing multiple challenges during this skyrocketing inflation while the rising prices of vegetables, pulses, and other agri-products are providing no relief to the farmers whereas middlemen and commission agents are the real beneficiary of the current demand-supply phenomena. The farmers had been complaining about the massive price hikes and black marketing of fertilizers since last summer while recent inflation hurt them severely.

Presently, farmers across the country are battling the disastrous effects of inflation because the prices of seeds, urea, and electricity for tube wells, along with rates of tractor/thrashers had increased many folds but they do not receive the real benefit of their hard work because of the current imperialistic system of commission agents and hoarders. Former Minister for Food Security, Syed Fakhar Imam was very vocal in introducing research-oriented policies in the agriculture sector but usually, the new government does not continue the policies of the rulers and the end-users had been the great loser in such cases. Although the incumbent government has assured the farmers to resolve their issues after deliberation at an appropriate level.

However, the Agri-sector needs comprehensive reforms including the removal of middlemen, ensuring farmers’ direct access to the market, conversion of agricultural tube wells to solar energy, and complete elimination of mafias from the entire field, and government sponsorship of research-based innovations, so the farmers can prosperous and nation can achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural product.