Farmers call for farm subsidies to boost agriculture

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PESHAWAR: The farmers asked the government to help them solve their problems because agriculture was the mainstay of the country’s economy.

Growers said rising prices for seeds, fertilizers and pesticides have crippled their economic situation. The government, they said, should improve the condition of water channels and provide subsidies to farmers on seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to alleviate their problems.

They also expressed concern over the rapid growth of housing societies established on agricultural land, saying that cultivable land was rapidly shrinking due to uncontrolled urbanization.

They lamented the indifferent attitude of the government towards the agricultural sector and said that the situation would deteriorate further if proper measures were not taken for the improvement of this neglected but important sector.

Farmers are unable to purchase pesticides and other items needed for their crops due to declining purchasing power. A local landowner and agricultural adviser in Peshawar, who is the provincial leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl), Abdul Mateen Khan expressed concern about the current situation.

Speaking to The News, he lamented the government’s mother-in-law attitude towards farmers, saying farmland was shrinking over time. “There is no big landowner in the province because after the death of the parents, the agricultural land is divided between the sons and the daughters according to the inheritance law,” he said.

“There are small landowners and they are facing problems due to the bad policies of the rulers. Although the leaders have made lofty declarations to relieve the farmers, no practical action has been taken for them,” he added.

“There is no government marketing policy,” he said, referring to vegetable prices. “Tomato prices are rising with every passing day,” he said. He pointed out that there was no crop insurance policy. “If the hailstorm damages the standing body, the farmers are not relieved and they have to bear the loss alone,” he said.

Although Pakistan is an agricultural country, successive governments have ignored farmers and the agricultural sector. They did not reserve any quota for farmers like those of other sectors including industries.

He said the sons and daughters of farmers should have quotas in colleges and universities and there should have been a policy to honor farmers. Listing various government departments, he said police officers, secretarial officials, professors and teachers, doctors, students have their ID cards from their respective departments, but farmers do not have such identification.

Abdul Mateen Khan, popularly known as Lala, urged the government to focus on improving small landowners, reducing the prices of tractors, pesticides, seeds and other necessary items.

He said increasing power cuts across the province had severely affected irrigation as farmers could not afford to irritate their crops using generators. “Authorities can overcome these problems by providing solar systems to farmers with easy installments,” he said, adding that the government has always provided facilities to industrialists but ignored farmers.

He observed that farmers and landowners did not have proper organization to solve their problems and that was the main reason why their problems remained unsolved for years. Israr Khan Mayar, a local farmer, said he could not afford the items needed to cultivate the land, but had no other choice.

He said he had spent over Rs 200,000 on growing maize but could not grow due to waterlogging problem. He said he had to take out a loan to buy fertilizer for his crops.

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