Seeds of Social Unrest

Dissatisfaction continues to grow amongst the farmers in Punjab, the largest stakeholder in the province’s economy, as the government’s policies continue to tread against them. Where the farmers were expecting an increase in the prices of the crops, the state’s decision to reduce the prices by 25% has escalated their worries.

The reduced prices of major crops like wheat, cotton, and maize, coupled with the escalating cost of production have put the farmers at an economic disadvantage. Subsequently, this has made the farming sector financially unviable. Last year, due to the black marketing of urea, a key fertilizer, farmers had to pay an extra 300 billion rupees. If these problems were not enough, the government’s inability to control the black marketing of urea along with their failure to ensure that urea was available to the farmers at regulated prices, continue to exacerbate the situation. The rise in the price of gas further worsened this situation as this led to a further increase in the price of urea.

Additionally, the government’s decision to import large quantities of wheat just before the harvest caused a significant drop in the prices of wheat. Instead of addressing the valid concerns of these farmers, the state’s actions have proven to be unfavorable for them.

There is a rising threat of discontent escalating among farmers which could potentially translate into a broader dissatisfaction among the citizens. While the government is too focused on the protests organized by PTI, they must remain wary of the fact that if the concerns of the farmers remain unaddressed for long, there could be widespread protests and unrest beyond the agricultural sector.

Before the situation becomes irreparable, the state must revert its policies and address the grievances of the farmers. Failure to do so would threaten economic prosperity and national food security. Moreover, it must be realized that the current policies of the state may have dire consequences for cotton production as the challenges facing the cultivation of this crop have increased following the ineffective decisions of the policymakers.

Moving forward, the state must take immediate measures to address these issues. A good starting point is purchasing wheat from the farmers and ensuring that urea is available to the farmers at regulated prices. Now is the time for the government to reverse the damage that it has done, and it must act promptly.

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