ISLAMABAD

Due to high input costs, the area under cotton cultivation in the country has been reduced to more than 4 percent, during last three years.

According to Ministry of Agriculture data, for the year 2014-15 wheat crop has been estimated at 25.490 million tons, 1.9 percent less than last years production of 25.979 million tons. As compare to 2013-14, the over all area reduced to -0.2 percent in the country, with major reduction in Balochistan, where 399 hectors in 2013-14 reduced to 385 hectares.

The production in 2014-15 reduced to 1.9 percent in the country as compare to previous year, with major decrease in Sindh province, where 4002000 tons reduced to 3698 thousand tons.

The statistics show that the support prices in the country are far greater than neighbouring country India.

In 2009-10 the regional support price of wheat in Pakistan was Rs950, whereas in India, per 40 kg prices during the same time span were Rs.792.

In 2012-13 the support price was increased from Rs. 1050 to Rs1200 in Pakistan, whereas in neighbouring country the prices were nominally increased from Rs. 930 to Rs. 954.

Presently the wheat support price across the border in Pakistani rupees is equal to Rs 922 whereas the local prices have been boosted to Rs. 1300.

Despite offering a very lucrative price why the crop is downward trend and farmers complain of going bankrupt, Dr. Qadir Bux Balouch, former Wheat Commissioner, and Agriculture Development Commissioner of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, believed due to high taxes the support price is no more attractive.

The area and production of wheat has almost been same with a slight decrease, from last many years, and the reason is due to high input costs the crop is losing its charm among farmers, now farmers are opting for livestock and are cultivating fodder Balouch said.

He said that due to high prices the farmers could not afford to use potash, which costs around Rs5000 per bag, which is resulting in less yields.

Around five districts of Punjab, including Layyah, Muzafargarh, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, and some parts of Bhakar are under severe floods.

The Punjab government after three days protest of farmers has promised to provide one bag of seed and one bag of Urea (nitrogen) or Rs. 4000 per acre to effected farmers.

But farmers believe the amount is very less as compare to their losses. If one sowed crop on his 10 acres, the loss is around Rs300,000 but the amount promised is Rs.40,000, the difference is very high and it would effect the future sowing, said Rao Afsar, a representative of Farmer Association Punjab.

He feared that although farmers have no other option than sowing wheat, as sunflower does not bring good prices, but due to consistent losses, the sowing in flood-affected areas, may further decline.

Government has yet to finalise the support price for the upcoming wheat crop. The farmers demand that instead of increasing the support price if taxes on inputs are lowered, not only yield will increase but the farmers would also become prosper.