IT IS a good news that the country witnessed record productions of some major crops including wheat, rice and maize this season- the impact of which has also been seen in the growth figure of 3.94% revealed recently by the government.
Addressing a news conference on Saturday, Minister for National Food Security said the wheat production remained 27.3 million tones, rice 8.419 million tones and maize 8.465 million tones. This really implies the timely interventions of the government in the agriculture sector.
Especially increasing the support price of certain crops encouraged the farmers to grow crops on more area.
In our view, however, the potential of our agriculture sector is far immense and its productivity can, in fact, be doubled by supporting especially the small farmers.
We also understand that the wheat crop in the country has been much higher than the estimates of the government.
Whilst we agree with the idea of building strategic reserves of major crops to protect the consumers from profiteers, but there is currently no need to import four million tons of wheat to build those reserves. Through a better strategy, this quantity can be arranged within the country.
Most of our farmers especially those in the ‘barani’ areas store the wheat more than their annual requirements for various reasons. Then some farmers delay the sale of their produce to get a better price.
Whilst the support price of wheat is Rs 1800 per forty kilogram, but the middlemen in the rural areas have already started procuring the wheat from farmers at the rate of Rs 2000, anticipating the prices of the commodity will increase in the coming months.
Thus by offering a better price to the farmers, the reserves of wheat can significantly be enhanced.
For this purpose, special centres may be set up in each district to purchase the wheat from farmers. This will have an added advantage.
By doing so we will not only save the foreign exchange but more money will also go to the pockets of farmers.
This however should not affect the price of flour in the open market. By extending subsidy, the government can keep the flour prices at the current levels.
Then, the farmers must also be given incentives and encouraged to grow more cotton as our textile industry and its exports are directly linked with this crop.