Economy
 
Pakistan likely to suffer Rs 100 billion agriculture loss
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September 09, 2011
Pakistan’s agriculture sector is expected to suffer colossal losses to the tune of Rs 100 billion in the backdrop of 15 to 20 percent decline in the production of major crops such as maize, cotton, sugarcane and rice due to shortage of urea fertilizer.

The economy of Pakistan mainly depends on the agriculture but this vital sector is currently being totally ignored by the government. Marred by political turmoil the government is currently unable to address the problems of farmers who suffer at the hands of fertilizer company mafia and government officials. Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Federal Minister and Captain retired Arif Nadeem, Secretary agriculture Punjab are squarely blamed for the shortage of much needed Urea fertilizer in the Punjab province. “Elahi is responsible because of his negligence and Arif Nadeed failed to fight the case of Punjab”, says Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman, Agri Forum Pakistan.

The politics of plots and permits is not uncommon in Pakistan. Most politicians join governments in order to get material benefits.

"Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is about to set up his own urea plant in Punjab after joining government”, claimed Ibrahim Mughal adding that Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi also distributes chits to farmers to get fertilizer.

The artificial shortage of Urea fertilizer is expected to directly hit the production of rice and cotton crops. Both crops are also called cash and export crops because of their around 80 percent contribution to the exports.

In Pakistan the production of fertilizer has dropped only 3.50 percent this year against the production of 2009-2010 but to create artificial shortage the production is shown 30 to 40 percent less this year, claims Chairman Agri Forum adding the companies have fixed urea fertilize rates at Rs 1385 per bag but not a single bag is available at this in Punjab. The fertilizer is available for Rs 2350 per bag in the market across the Punjab with the connivance of companies and government officials, according to Ibrahim Mughal. Last year urea bag was available for Rs 800.

This year import of fertilizer was also reduced. Local produce which was to be marketed in June and Jully was delayed till mid of August. This maneuvering allowed the companies to make undue profits in the circumstances unfavorable to poor farmers of Punjab.

Punjab desperately needs 10 million bags of urea fertilizer during next 10 to 15 days otherwise the province will have to suffer colossal losses, Ibrahim Mughal observes.

Contribution of Punjab in the production of rice is around 60 percent including 90 percent of fine or super basmati rice. This year 4.5 million ton rice production is expected but all this depends on the supply of urea fertilizer much need for the crop.

Apart from the artificial fertilizer shortage the country is also expected to incur heavy losses caused by the torrential rains in the parts of Sindh where large cultivated land has been inundated by rain and flood waters.

Widespread monsoon rains have negatively impacted crops and affected the yield of cotton, onion, chilli, banana and tomato in Mirpur Khas, Tharparker, Sanghar, Badin, Degree and Hyderabad. The prices of onion has surged by 100 percent in just a couple of days from Rs700 to Rs 1500 per maund.

The rains have left around 2.5 million people homeless this year so far. The country had to suffer around huge losses due to devastating floods which stirred which stirred the whole national last year. According to the World Bank, Pakistan’s economy has deteriorated significantly since the 2010 floods which caused damage estimated at $10 billion.

Pakistan’s economic situation is getting worse due to number of factors including poor law and order and widespread corruption. In the last couple of years the prices of most essential commodities have surged more than 100 percent but government machinery failed to check undue price hike and allowed manufacturers to multiply their profits. In the case of fertilizer availability it is the prime responsibility of government to ensure supply of urea to facilitate farmers or must be prepared to encounter yet another crisis.



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