Agriculture reforms need of the hour to help improve economy

Asem Mustafa Awan

The exorbitant prices of the machinery added with fertilizers and poor quality of seed has made things very hard for the farmers who finding no respite are forced to sell their lands and saying goodbye to the area which has been nurtured with their sweat and blood.

Not all is lost, the agriculture base of the country should be revisited and concrete steps should be made to harness the  wheat crop which besides feeding the millions is wasted to an extent which leaves a lot to be desired.

The middle man makes the most of the money as he has the money and means to buy cheap and then sell it an exorbitant price.

It is an open secret the recent wheat and sugar price hike resulted owning to people who had been running the cartels and making the maximum out of public need.

The government faced with one dilemma after the other clears the obstacles. It stays a mystery after clearing the obstacles was there any lessons learned. Time is the essence of all things and these artificial shortages are deliberately created to cause a stir in public to induce panic buying behavior.

There has been number of steps that can make Pakistan self-reliant in its agricultural produce only the will from the government is needed which can make Pakistan clean and green if it provides subsidy to the small farmers for machinery and fertilizers besides good quality seed.

Everything is possible only commitment is needed to make it happen. Prime Minister Imran Khan has made it clear time and again that making Pakistan a welfare state is his dream and he is all out to make things go in that direction.

The need of the hour is to highlight the areas which make Pakistan strong and agriculture produce forms the backbone of the country.

The start of corona pandemic witnessed the developed world which was dependent on imported produce from third world countries go in panic buying. The people formed long queues outside the stores for buying food and it was not one or ten but hundreds of people in line.

The lesson from the pandemic has been many it is the capacity building of the nation as how to act responsibly in the testing time. Pakistan in a way faced the pandemic and apart from the two issues that was addressed in time of wheat and sugar everything was in the market. The price did fluctuate owing to elements who were into profiteering but  price control committees along with introduction of Tiger Force for quality control did serve the purpose.

The need of the hour to identify the grey areas and plan accordingly as the situation develop. Farmers should be given priority especially the small land owners.

The exorbitant prices of the machinery added with fertilizers and poor quality of seed has made things very hard for the farmers who finding no respite are forced to sell their lands and saying goodbye to the area which has been nurtured with their sweat and blood.

It may be mentioned here Pakistan face wheat shortage every year which is artificially created and government as always fail to curtail the mafia that makes millions in creating it.The last year fiasco is still fresh in the people’s mind and not all is forgotten.

Blessed with everything Pakistan has all the resources which makes it unique as it is the agricultural products that results in nearly half of the foreign exchange earned.

It was the agricultural base in Pakistan which made people stay calm unlike west where food was snatched from people and fights broke out over food packets in stores.

The Corona pandemic had many a lessons for the policy makers. The shortcomings that existed in the systemis believed to be identified and for once it is presumed planning does exist as in how to tackle the unforeseen.

The exploitative system that exists in Pakistan now stands exposed and plight of the small and landless farmers was taken in to account.

The reforms that are harped should be ensured in true letter and spirit to empower the farmer who suffers at the hands of feudal elite who control their lifeline and suck the blood out from their veins at the time of the harvest.

Scarcity of water, power outage and most blatant one the water terrorism by India are three other issues which come next after fertilizers and machinery.

Pakistan Disaster Management Authority not long ago warned residents of Azad Kashmir near Neelum Valley for a possible flood as India released water from its Kishan Ganga Dam.

All eyes are on the government which since decades failed to come to the rescue of the farmers and did  nothing much to save them from the damage which is in the form of  counterfeit fertilizers, water wars which are controlled by the irrigation department officials and the influence of the middle man that takes away the produce on dirt cheap prices.

Fair trade and fair price an unheard phenomenon should now be heard as enough is enough and there should be an end to the exploitation of the farmers which has suffered for many a generations.

The decline which has also come to the notice of policy makers in the time of pandemic has been attribute to various reasons but the foremost one was the involvement of the middleman which takes away all and makes the maximum profit from the efforts of the poor farmer which end up with the short end of the stick.