Archive for August 21st, 2009
Post Source: The News Correspondent
Friday, August 21, 2009
LAHORE: The Punjab government has constituted a Working Group for Agricultural Credit to facilitate farmers to get credit for agriculture and livestock through a simple procedure.
The group will comprise the senior bankers of the State Bank, Zarai Taraqiati Bank (ltd) and other commercials banks, besides representatives of agriculture, livestock and cooperatives departments.
This was decided in a meeting which was chaired by Punjab Minister for Agriculture Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh and held at the Punjab Agricultural Research Board, Lahore.
The meeting was attended by Punjab Agriculture secretary Arif Nadeem, the Livestock secretary, the Cooperatives secretary, the representatives of State Bank, Faysal Bank, Muslim Commercial Bank, Allied Bank, Askari Bank, Prime Bank, National Bank, Soneri Bank and Zari Taraqiati Bank Limited.
The minister underlined the importance of reducing mark up on agricultural loans advanced to small farmers. It was informed that during 2008-09, Rs.233 billion were advanced as agricultural loan against the allocation of Rs.250 billions. The bankers told that the number of borrowers in agricultural sector had increased and small farmers were benefiting from this facility substantially. It was proposed in the meeting that the banks should look into new venues and opportunities to advance loans to the farmers, for example, Tunnel Farming, Solar Energy, Drip / Sprinkler Irrigation System, Modern Livestock Farming, etc. It was also told in the meeting that presently 16,000 acres had been brought under Tunnel Farming whereas Drip / Sprinkler Irrigation System had been installed on 5,000 acres of land. The meeting said farmers should be educated to benefit from the facility of agricultural credit being advanced by ZTBL and other scheduled banks for making profit through value addition in agriculture and modern livestock farming.
KARACHI: The government has failed to maintain sugar prices despite clear expectations of a bad sugarcane crop right from the beginning of this year.
With all the known facts, nothing was done on the part of the government to save the two parties that have been on the losing end — cane farmers and sugar consumers, Ishaq Khakwani, former Minister of State for IT and Telecom told The News.
Amid the worst sugar crisis in the history of the country, consumers are compelled to buy sugar at highest-ever prices from Rs50 to Rs55 in different parts of the country.
The cane procurement season starts in December and ends in March every year. This year sugar millers got cane at Rs80 to Rs100 per maund from farmers and the millers had finalised their end-product at Rs25 per kg, including all expenses and profits, he said, adding that this was the same rate on which the millers provide sugar to the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP).
What is shocking is that the TCP is now providing that same sugar at Rs38 per kg to the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) all over Pakistan and says that the government is providing subsidy on sugar; conversely the government is earning Rs13 per kg, he added.
Saeed Ahmed Khan, TCP Chairman talking to The News said “we purchased sugar at Rs34 per kg from millers in January 2009 and not at Rs25 per kg, the prices reached Rs37 per kg in July 2009 and we are now providing the commodity at Rs38 per kg as per the government’s decision.
He said: “TCP bought sugar at different rates from different mills; what had actually increased the prices were the mark-up rates on loans with which we buy the commodity. TCP has to repay bank loans on time to get sanctioned other loans and this is an ongoing process, which also pushed the prices up.”
What is pertinent to note that why government did not take notice of the rising sugar prices in the early stages.
It was evident from December 2008 that the sugarcane crop would be affected this year. With this entire hike in prices that is from Rs25 per kg to Rs55 per kg, there is also the profit shares for farmers who sold their crop to the millers at Rs80 to Rs100 per mound, Khakwani observed.
Khakwani also said that in March-April 2009, white sugar price was Rs42 per kg and despite the indication of Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL) government did not import sugar.
TCP says that it has no role in sugar crisis owing to fact that TCP orders sugar import as per the government instructions.
Millers say that federal government and TCP were responsible for the crisis by not importing sugar at the right time despite their demands, especially TCP should have maintained a 700,000 tons of sugar buffer stock to overcome any challenge.
Despite all the government claims sugarcane cultivation area and per area yield in Pakistan is virtually standstill.
Millers claim that their cost of production has been increased in last couple of months and this year farmers provided cane at high rate that is Rs100 to Rs140 because they knew that the crop was bad and hence they earned more on these rates.
But, Khakwani declined the miller claim saying that millers have been earning over 135 per cent profit on one kg of sugar. Present retail sugar price is Rs55 per kg compared to Rs25 per kg, the production cost including profit on which millers buy cane from farmers this year.
Kaira says 45,000 acres of land to be distributed among landless farmers
KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari has advised the Sindh government to increase the limit of land allotment – from 16 acres to 25 acres – for landless farmers, and directed that priority be given to female farmers in the programme, according to the APP news agency.
The directive came at a meeting to review progress in the distribution of state land among landless farmers under the ‘Women’s Emancipation Programme’.
Briefing the media on the meeting, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said 45,000 acres of land had already been distributed among poor and landless farmers since the programme was launched in November last year. He said 70 percent of those who had been allotted land were women, and the same ratio would persist.
Briefing the media on the meeting, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said around 45,000 acres of barren land would be distributed among 4,196 farmers.
He said that all these landowners could acquire fertilisers and seeds through Benazir cards, to be issued in the name of female members of families.
About a meeting between the president and a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) delegation, Kaira said the future of the local government system would be decided in consultation with the government’s coalition partners, including the MQM.
The minister said the local government system was a provincial subject, and provincial administrations had to decide about its future.
Kaira said the president had local government powers until December 25, and “these are being shifted to provinces”.
Kaira said Zardari also presided over a meeting on low-cost housing schemes in Sindh.
About a trial for former president Pervez Musharraf, he said the government would follow court orders.
Zardari also announced a development package for Lyari. app/staff report
By Mohammad Hussain Khan (DAWN)
Tuesday, 04 Aug, 2009
HYDERABAD: The failure of the government in announcing the support price of cotton and paddy has left the growers in lurch as they are forced by the middlemen to accept whatever price was offered.
The ministry of food, agriculture and livestock (Minfal) received the recommendations of the Agriculture Prices Institute two months back but the government failed in announcing the support price of wheat, cotton, sugarcane and paddy.
It was learnt that the Punjab government had fixed the cane price at Rs100 per maund but the Sindh government was yet to announce the same.
Reports said that the cotton picking has begun and would continue till December but growers are selling their crop to middlemen and other small traders for Rs1500 per 40kg with the buyer deducting two kilogram because of moisture ratio. Growers are facing loss of 2kg on every 40kg.
Cotton production was estimated to be more than the last year’s as more land was brought under cotton cultivation.
The growers abstained from sugarcane cultivation because of the non-availability of water and price mechanism which always remains an issue. Sindh’s cane farmers are already in litigation with the government over the payment of quality premium. Sugar mills exploit poor farmers by refusing to pay them the fixed support price.
This time around, cotton growers are being exploited at the hands of middlemen as they are forced to accept whatever is offered. Middlemen have no fear of the intervention of the Trading Corporation of Pakistan in the absence of support price.
Nadeem Shah said that wheat growers cultivated the crop after the announcement of its support price at Rs950 but the government failed in announcing the bench mark for cotton and paddy crops. He said growers should get Rs1900 to Rs2000 per 40kg for cotton by keeping in mind its international price.
The market players are manipulating the situation in view of the fact that farmers don’t have the capacity to hold back, either cotton or paddy crop. Ginning factories lift cotton when the picking is in bloom and the TCP helps in maintaining a competition among the buyers.