Archive for June, 2009

The Following Posts Source: Daily Times, Dawn and The News International

Urea, seed prices up in Peshawar

Post Source: The News International Saturday, June 27, 2009

By our correspondent

PESHAWAR: Farmers of the provincial metropolis are struggling to survive due to high prices of urea fertiliser and quality seeds, which have been continuously rising. Munib Khan, a shopkeeper, said prices of urea fertiliser had been increased manifold and a 50kg bag was being sold at Rs900. “Prices of seeds and fertilisers are on an upsurge. The price of a 50kg quality wheat seed bag was about Rs900 to Rs1,000 last year and now the same is being sold at about Rs1,500-2,000, depending on variety,” he said. Farmers in various parts of Peshawar were also concerned about the huge difference between prices of wheat and flour in local markets. They were of the opinion that the official price of wheat was about Rs650 during the crop harvesting season, but now a 20kg flour bag was available at about Rs600. Janas Gul, a farmer, said, “the government should take measures to reduce prices of fertilisers and quality seeds. Otherwise, it will be difficult for us to earn a livelihood.”

Procedure for wheat products’ export announced

Post Source: The News International Saturday, June 27, 2009

ISLAMABAD: The government here on Friday announced the procedures and conditions for export of wheat products including atta, maida and suji with immediate effect. According to a Commerce Ministry press release, the export should be limited to a cumulative ceiling of 200,000 metric tons and an individual exporter could export a minimum quantity of 50 metric tons and maximum quantity of 500 metric tons per contract. The procedures further elaborate that the export should be made after prior registration of export contract with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the export would be allowed only in dollar terms. The press release said that further details regarding general procedures and export contract registration could be obtained at the web address: www. commerce.gov.pk.

0.1m tons chilli production likely

Post Source: The News International Saturday, June 27, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Green chillies would be cultivated over 52.9 thousand hectares of land during 2009-10 to produce 101.9 thousand tons of the commodity to fulfill domestic demand and for export purposes. An official in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MinFA) said here on Friday that about 104.63 thousand tons of chillies were produced during last year (08-09) as against the set target of 104.5 thousand tons. Quantity of urea tenders increased KARACHI: Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has enhanced the quantity of two urea tenders floated this month from 50,000 and 35,000 metric tons to 100,000MT each to meet local demand in kharif. A TCP official said here on Friday that these tenders were to be open on June 27 and June 30, 2009. He said that the corporation on Friday issued another tender for the supply of 50,000MT of urea from worldwide sources for July 11. The bidders need to quote C & F price for delivery at Karachi Port, Port Qasim and Gawadar Port.

Conditions for export of wheat by-products announced

Staff Report (Daily Times)

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has announced the procedures and conditions required for export of wheat by-products (atta, maida and suji) with immediate effect. According to a MoC statement issued on Friday the export shall be limited to a cumulative ceiling of 200,000 metric tonnes (MT), and an individual exporter could export a minimum quantity of 50 MT and maximum of 500 MT per contract. The procedures further elaborate that the export shall be made after prior registration of export contract with Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the export shall be allowed only in dollar terms. The MoC had allowed export of wheat by-products-atta, suji and maida through issuance of SRO 571 (i) 2009 keeping in view the federal cabinet’s decision. Federal cabinet, after analysing the wheat stock of the country, had approved 0.2 million wheat by-products to Afghanistan to meet its food requirements. With the announcement of procedures and conditions required for export of wheat products the exporters of the country would be able to start the process of exports of wheat by-products. Earlier, the federal government had postponed the decision on allowing wheat exports from the country till mid-July when the final production estimates would be available. The initial production estimates available with the government suggest wheat production at 23.7 million tonnes for 2008-09 and expectations are there that these estimates will increase to 24.5 million tonnes to 25 million tonnes this year when the final estimates will be available. Some 22 million tonnes wheat is required for national consumption, 1 million tonne for maintaining strategic reserves and it is expected that some 2 million tonnes of wheat will be available for exports during 2009-10.

Rice Economy on trial

Dawn Economic & Business Review June 22-28, 2009

By Usman Hameed and Abdul Ghafoor

PAKISTAN is 12th largest rice producer in the world, and the sixth largest exporter of the commodity. Rice is the country’s third largest crop after wheat and cotton. Exports account for 10 per cent of the world rice. The rice production meets both domestic and export demand. In 2008, output was of 5.56 million tons, 2.3 per cent higher than previous year’s yield. The overseas demand for Pakistani rice has increased over the years, increasing from 0.98 million tons in 1960 to 2.74 million tons in 2007. While average per capita consumption of rice in the country during 1997was 16.30kgs/person/year. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), export value of Pakistan milled rice in 2006 was $1.15 billion. Trade liberalisation is imposing serious challenges as well as strategic openings for rice economy. The opinion on whether Pakistan should go for globalisation and liberalisation of its agriculture is at present sharply divided. Those who support trade liberalisation argue that the country has a strong comparative advantage in agriculture over most of the developed world, especially in case of high value crops, such as basmati rice. On the other hand, those opposing globalisation assert that liberalisation of trade would destabilise prices of primary commodities and expose the domestic market to violent fluctuations of world market. It is also feared that crop pattern may change, producer may get the benefit but the consumers may suffer. With one-third of its population living in absolute poverty, this is not considered as an option. The effect of trade liberalisation on selected commodities at the national level can be seen by estimating changes in the level of protection given to each commodity. The Nominal Protection Coefficient (which shows the ratio of domestic prices of basmati paddy to the world prices of basmati paddy) is given below. An NPC more than one indicates the extent of protection given to the commodity; trade liberalisation in this situation would reduce the domestic price. Conversely, when the NPC is less than one, it indicates that the extent of non-protection for the commodity and trade liberalisation in this situation would raise the domestic price. As nominal protection in case of rice is lower than one, so it indicates the higher prices for producer.. Pakistan has not received any protection during the period as the coefficients have been less than one. The table below shows the Nominal Protection Coefficients for basmati rice in Punjab province. Year …………………………NPCs 2000 …………………………0.73 2001………………………….0.59 2002 …………………………0.89 2003 …………………………0.99 2004 …………………………0.97 2005 …………………………0.99 2006 …………………………0.87

Trade liberalisation is bringing new issues and challenges. On the one hand, western countries are demanding removal of all restrictions that distort trade like tariff, quota etc. On the other hand, they are imposing ban on Pakistani export on the grounds of sanitary and phytosanitary conditions, environmental safety, use of child labour in production etc. For the success of external liberalisation, internal liberalisation is essential. Trade liberalisation will not be beneficial if domestic reforms such as removal of unnecessary government control, improvement in infrastructure, availability of required inputs, private sector participation in agriculture, sufficient and timely water availability and the burning issue of power loadshedding, are not undertaken. Trade liberalisation will bring the domestic growers in competition with developed countries producers who enjoys access to cheap capital, sound infrastructure, and scale advantage.To face this situation there is need to increase productivity and efficiency, which can not be achieved without government support. The need of the hour demands improvement in quality of seed, production system, post harvest management and removal of market imperfections.

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Princess Haya calls for the support for women at 2009 Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva

Post Source Emirates News Agency 2009-06-25

WAM Geneva, Switzerland, Jun 25th, 2009 (WAM): United Nations Messenger of Peace and Chairperson of International Humanitarian City, HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, addressed the impact of climate change on women at this year’s Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF) in Geneva yesterday.

Among the concerned leaders and public figures who assembled at the humanitarian capital of Geneva this year were foreign ministers Dr. Bernard Kouchner (France) and Micheline Calmy-Ray (Switzerland); as well as senior members of the international and humanitarian communities, such as UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman, the WHO’s Executive Director Dr. Margaret Chan and Sir John Holmes Under-Secretary General for OCHA – together with heads of major environmental and climate authorities, such as the Nobel Laureate Dr Rajendra Pachauri (IPCC).

A founding member of the Forum, established by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Princess Haya joined a panel of experts which included Dame Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB; Malini Mehra, Founder and CEO, Centre for Social Markets; and M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation as well as Ghana’s Minister for the Environment, to discuss the ongoing struggles poor women face and the need to reach out to women to influence policy and create gender-sensitive links to poverty. As part of the discussion, Princess Haya not only highlighted how climate change is affecting poor women but also emphasised the need to use women as agents for change through the existing routes established by UN agencies on other programmes.

‘Women are at the heart of poverty and account for 70 percent of those most affected by climate change,” stated Princess Haya. ‘So there is no doubt that climate change is already hitting poor women harder than others. But many women in this situation are simply trying to survive, getting their voices heard on this issue at Copenhagen is important because although they are 70pc of the most affected they can also be 70pc of the solution, possibly more’.

One of the main reasons poor women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change is that they are disproportionately dependent on threatened natural resources, no matter the geographical location. Women are responsible for food, fuel and water in most households in developing countries. When faced with climate issues of drought, erratic rainfall, flooding and deforestation, women must work harder to ensure safety and survival for their families who are dependent on their abilities.

Statistics show that the poorest women live in Asia and Africa, largely in rural areas that depend on agriculture. Eight out of 10 farmers in Africa are women and six out of 10 farmers in Asia are women.

The 2009 Forum attracted over 400 senior international participants, the largest international meeting ever held on the human impact of climate change. The 2009 Forum provided an independent and impartial international platform for debate.

Deliberations focused on urgent and comprehensive measures that needed to be taken in order to deal with the already substantial human impact of climate change, and prepared the international community and worst affected countries for much greater impacts expected in the next 5-15 years. The outcomes of the discussions will be formulated into detailed recommendations when the Forum’s full report is made available in early Autumn.

Swat fruit dealers continue suffering losses

Post Source: The News International – Friday, June 26, 2009
Nisar Mahmood

PESHAWAR: The farmers and fruit dealers of Swat continue to suffer losses of millions of rupees because of the prolong blockade of roads that has brought transportation of the products to a complete halt.

Like previous years, fruits like peach, plums and apricots could not be marketed this season, too, because of the operation against militants, imposition of curfew and road blockade that still continues.

The militancy and operation caused losses of millions of rupees to the farmers and dealers besides rendering thousands of labourers jobless. Plums, apricots and some varieties of peach have already been wasted while variety No 5 to 8 of the peaches, apples and persimmons are at risk if not marketed and transported out of the valley, a fruit dealer and former nazim of Chuprial Union Council, Muhammad Shafiq, told The News.

Shafiq said the fruit dealers had paid millions of rupees to farmers like the past year but their products could not be marketed because of curfew. Putting the losses at millions, he said only from Matta 120 truckloads of fruits would be shifted to down country daily. Normally, fruit transportation would continue from May to November, he added.

He said the militancy and operation had also rendered thousands of labourers jobless. Substantiating his claim, the fruit dealer said only in one orchard at Shalpalum 500 labourers were working. But the ongoing operation and militant attacks had badly affected the transportation, packing and marketing of the fruits, causing huge losses to the district economy. “Me and my partners had paid Rs10 million to farmers last year but the fruit could not be marketed and thus the money has been lost,” he said.

Approximately 30 to 40 per cent area, especially in Matta, Kabal and Khwazakhela and Swat Kohistan, have fruit orchards that provide employment to 70 per cent of the people, who remain engaged in spray, tuning of trees, packing and transportation of products, etc, to feed their families. The situation has badly affected the people’s income that is based on agriculture, he added.

A fruit dealer from Gujranwala, Muhammad Ramzan said: “Normally 500 to 600 truckloads of fruit were to be transported out of the district, but the curfew and road blockade has completely stopped the process. Peaches, plums and apricots have gone waste because their shelf life is very short and the remaining fruit will also be lost if the situation remained the same.”

Ramzan put the loss to the district economy in billions, saying only Gujranwala had a market of Swat fruit of more than Rs300 million let alone Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Sargodha, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Karachi and other big cities of the country. A halt to fruit transportation from Swat is causing millions of rupees losses to dealers like him besides farmers and labourers, he complained.

The dealer said several fruit dealers, who had invested heavily in purchasing orchards, were worried about their losses while hundreds of families had been deprived of their lone source of income.

Local farmers, labourers and fruit dealers from down country would have no option but to stop investment in agriculture and orchards if the same situation continued, he said, demanding immediate opening of roads so that the fruit transportation could be resumed.

Contract farming harming mango production

Post Source: Dawn (Mohammad Hussain Khan)
Wednesday, 24 Jun, 2009 Mango

HYDERABAD: The atmosphere is suffocating. The stench in the vegetable and fruit market is overpowering, but Ali Sher has to move fast amidst scorching heat, wiping sweat from his face. Looking completely exhausted, he is busy earning whatever he can before the current mango season comes to an end.

Thanks to its excellent flavour, the mango is rightly called the king of fruits. There are allegedly over a hundred varieties of mangoes, but only two are widely recognised — those from India and Pakistan and those from Southeast Asia.

Mangoes have been cultivated in many a country, but nowhere is it as ubiquitous as in the sub-continent; Hyderabad’s fruit market serves as the main outlet from where mangoes from Sindh are dispatched up-country by road and train.

Sindh produces a number of high-quality mangoes, with Sindhri remaining the most popular variety. Prices of unripe Sindhri mangoes this year vary from around Rs1,300 to Rs1,500 per 160 kg bag — showing a marked increase from last year, when prices ranged from Rs1300 to Rs1400.

Mango commission agents claimed that demand this year remains high, and will likely rise further as the season draws to a close. Last year, Sindhri was sold till June 5, but this year it is still widely available.

Agents added that mangoes were being brought to market earlier and earlier, which made for higher quantities, but less flavourful mangoes, a move thought to be influenced greatly by the contractors who work with orchard owners.

‘At least farmers should take care of their orchards till the fruit attains maturity and then they may give its harvesting rights to contractors. It will certainly improve quality and quantity of mango,’ said progressive mango grower Imdad Nizamani from Tando Allahyar. He predicts less production of mango this year because of the short winter this year.

Mango cultivation in Sindh is not growing as compared to Punjab, where its area and production are both increasing. According to Director Sindh Horticulture Research Institute, Dr.Atta Soomro, Sindh produced 267,100 against Punjab’s 501,000 tons in 1990-91 as per figures of Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal) while in 2007-08 Sindh produced just 368,100 tons against Punjab’s 1,373,100 tons.

‘I expect our production of mango this year to be not more than 330,000 tons,’ he said.

It was due to mango growers’ strong tendency in Sindh to give their orchards on contracts instead of taking care of it on their own. That’s why mango growers are also not interested in export of mango though they can earn considerable profits. As a result, the large-scale export of fruit export remains a dream in Sindh. In 2007-08 Pakistan’s mango export was 68,879 metric tons against production of 17,53,686 tons while in 2006-07 it was 61,632 tons against 1,719,177 tons production.

‘So far shipment of $99,183 of mango has been exported to UAE, Germany, Italy, England, etc.,’ said deputy director Trade Development Authority Pakistan (TDAP), Hyderabad Abdul Salam Abbasi. He sees great potential in export of mango from Sindh but regretted that the growers of Sindh are not interested, as the majority prefer giving their orchards to contractors instead.

Requirements of Global GAP (good agricultural practices) – a certification system – under which a systematic chain of fruit’s health is to be ensured perhaps discouraged forced from taking care of scientific use of soil, fertilizer, spray, urea, picking pre and post-harvesting care, packing and transportation. These requirements not only pay dividends to growers but ensure labourers health safety as they are not exposed to hazardous chemicals.

 In Sindh growers give orchards to contractors before the season commences in return for cash-payments, and then leave it up to the contractor to decide how labourers are picked and used, mangoes are transported and their shelf-life maintained.

The pollination of mangoes is also often adversely affected in March-April under short-term agreements with contractors; excessive dropping of flowers, for example, is widespread.

‘Financial capacity and lack of skilled labour are [the] main hurdles that force growers to offer orchard to contractors. Mango is a perishable commodity thus growers avoid holding it for a longer period. But we need to break monopoly of contractors and bring our crop to market on our own. I tried to market my crop on my own but faced insurmountable difficulty due to middlemen,’ said Haji Nadeem Shah, an old mango grower from Matiari. He said, ‘contractor earns 400 times more than growers. For instance if I get Rs20,000 per acre, contractor gets Rs80,000 for the same. We can open our own sale points to market our product to benefit consumers. I and my friends plan to do something of this sort next year,’ he said.

Picking mangoes from trees must be done carefully in order to maximise shelf life. A stem of one to two centimetres must be left on the mango otherwise in order to prevent the fruit from rotting immediately. Likewise a temperature of 13 degrees centigrade, with a relative humidity of 85 to 90 per cent during transportation and storage must also be ensured. Contractors trying to maximize short-term profits may forgo quality control in favour of large harvests, rushed quickly to market.

Dr. Soomro contended that in Punjab growers prefer small farms instead of the huge ones which dominate Sindh. ‘We have absentee mango orchard owners in Sindh who don’t even visit their land. Mango tree demands pruning … and we have better climatic conditions for this fruit as compared to Punjab,’ he said.

Mango orchard owners stand to earn large sums of money this season while sitting at home, while labourers like Ali Sher return home having earned just Rs300 to Rs400 during mango season. ‘I don’t have any complaint because it’s my job. But it’s too difficult to make both ends meet,’ he said. 

Tenant, sons thrashed for not attending convention

 Post Source: Dawn June 26, 2009

OKARA, June 25: A number of farmers on Wednesday night beat up and injured an Okara Military Farms tenant and his three sons for not attending the national tenants’ convention.

The Anjuman-i-Mazareen arranged on April 17 last a national convention at Chak 4/4-L in which Jafar Husain and his sons (of Chak 15/4-L) did not turn up. They were declared by leaders in the convention as ‘Satans’.

Jafar Husain and his sons -Javed, Riaz and Abdul Aziz — entered their village mosque to offer prayers when a villager announced on loudspeaker that “the Satans had entered the mosque”.

Hearing the announcement, Maqbool, Rustam, Shahzad, Aslam and others rushed to the mosque and beat up Jafar and his sons. The police have registered a case.

Post Source: Daily Nawa-i-Waqt – Lahore June 26, 2009

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50pc cotton, paddy crops may be lost due to water shortage

Post Source: The News International – Friday, June 26, 2009
By Shahid Shah

KARACHI: Damage to more than 50 per cent production of cotton and paddy is likely this year in Sindh amid 40 per cent water shortage in the current Kharif season.

This year, Sindh has a production target of 3.25 million bales of cotton over an area of 0.5 million hectares and 2.03 million tonnes of paddy over 0.642 million hectares.

However, the water shortage has badly affected the sowing of both the crops across the province and growers have protested.

President Asif Ali Zardari was also informed about the water shortage during his recent visit to Karachi. According to reports, he ordered that the water scarcity issue should immediately be resolved and more water should be made available to the province.

The Sindh government has taken serious notice of sowing paddy in cotton exclusive districts and has stopped the practice this year. Paddy consumes more water and nothing would be left for cotton.

Nevertheless the growers in tail-end areas of Indus are worried that the target of both major crops – cotton and paddy – may not be achieved due to water shortage.

Reports said that Sindh would be given around 32,000 cusecs extra water daily but it has not satisfied the growers. Reports said that President Zardari has ordered to take other efficient way of water distribution but the growers have demanded water according to water accord of 91.

Syed Qamar u Zaman Shah, Chairman Sindh Chamber of Agriculture told The News that there was no other way to compensate Sindh than to give its water share according to the 91 water accord.

“Guddu barrage is our cash counter, we should be given our due share at that barrage,” he said. When there is no proper share given at Guddu, how it would reach to other two barrages, he asked.

Shah said that they were given water somewhere in Punjab, which could be diverted through other canals or would be pumped out. Measurement of Sindh’s share should be at Guddu barrage only, he stressed.

He said paddy needs regular supply of water besides cotton.

New variety of BT cotton requires almost double water than previous varieties. BT cotton has been sown by majority of growers, which requires at least 6 waters compared to 2 to 3 waters provided to other local varieties of cotton.

Not only these two crops would suffer from water shortage but sugarcane is also in the fields, it would also be affected along with minor crops, Shah said.

“We are lower riparian and the upper riparian are taking water as it was their kingdom,” he said.

Reintroduction of organic farming urged

Post Source: The News International – Friday, June 26, 2009
Our correspondent

MANSEHRA: The experts have urged the government and policy-making institutes to reintroduce organic farming in the country to cope with challenges of unhygienic food and escalating diseases.

“Don’t force soil to yield more of its power by fertilisers, which create diseases and minimise resistance power among human beings. If the practice of using extra fertilisers and pesticides to get more yield is not stopped, our coming generations would never forgive us,” said one of the experts while speaking at a one-day seminar titled “Organic Farming to Revive Indigenous Knowledge and Practices” organised by Actionaid International, Mansehra Thursday.

The representatives of national and international non-governmental organisations, government departments and farmers largely attended the seminar. The experts, including agriculture scientists and Development Co-coordinator of Actionaid International, Raheela Khan, Senior Scientist at National Tea Research Institute Shinkiary Abdul Waheed, Mrs Nazli, Hidayatullah Khan and others said that the world community was facing the challenges of food shortage, epidemics and global warming but these issues were either directly or indirectly related to the earth.

 

Sindh government urged to increase wheat subsidy

Post Source: The News International – Friday, June 26, 2009
By Imtiaz Ali

Karachi

The Sindh Assembly on Thursday was informed that if wheat subsidy was not increased, prices of flour might increase, especially in major urban centres.

Taking part in general discussion on the Sindh budget 2009-10, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Deputy Parliamentary Leader Faisal Sabzwari said that Punjab had provided a Rs6.6 billion subsidy on wheat to control flour price. He urged the Sindh government to find an avenue to provide wheat subsidy, which should be “target-oriented”.

MQM’s minister Shoaib Bukhari said that flour prices would go up if wheat subsidy was not provided, given that the Sindh government had already been criticised for the higher price of Roti as compared to Punjab. He said that it was incomprehensible for him why Rs1,100 million were earmarked for Planning and Development Department, even though its function was restricted to coordination and facilitation of various departments for uplift schemes, and added this money could be spent for other purposes. He said that Rs300m would be provided to NGOs under public-private partnership (PPP), although NGOs and PPP were two different things.

Sindh Irrigation Minister Murad Ali Shah said that there was no water available for necessitating the construction of any big dam, hence the government was focusing on water conservation through measures such as lining of canals. He said that the federal government had launched a Rs65 billion project, out of which Rs13 billion would be provided to Sindh in the first phase.

He said that Sindh could no longer resist the construction of Thal Canal, as Rs8 billion had been spent on it till now. Similarly, billions of rupees had been spent on RBOD’s scheme launched in 2001 that destroyed green belt, but now Sindh had to treat its water. With reference to Punjab legislators’ concerns over water distribution, the minister said that Sindh wanted “equity” in distribution of water as it had not been getting its due share. He said that Wapda was filling Tarbela dam, which was wrong, as it could not be done in case of water shortage. He said that at present there was a 30 per cent water shortage in Sindh, and immediate efforts had been taken to mitigate the situation.

Sindh Culture Minister Sassui Palejo said that link-canals could not be filled without prior consent of Sindh. She urged Punjab to adopt “balanced policy” on water.

Ali Nawaz Shah, provincial minister for agriculture, informed the assembly that he had reduced unnecessary administration expenditure of his ministry by 70 per cent. He said that urea fertilizer was 23 lacs excess this year as compared to last year.

Sindh Food Minister Nadir Magsi said that he was not consulted when an irrigation scheme was launched to prevent theft of water by Balochistan from Saifullah Magsi canal. He disclosed that President Asif Zardari had taken notice of this scheme, as it would likely to destroy fertile agriculture land and irrigate barren lands of “vested interests” in his constituency.

Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza said that the eradication of crimes, kidnappings, murders and land-grabbing required the cooperation and participation of all sections of society, as wherever he took action, he was “discouraged by localised pressure”. He said that insurance scheme for all cops would be launched in a week.

Shazia Marri, provincial information minister, said that the budget should be considered as a “welfare budget” as for the first time, a nutrition scheme was launched for children. She asked the opposition to conduct their homework instead of providing “distorted” figures.

Awami National Party (ANP) legislator Amir Nawab said that the minimum salary should be set at Rs7,000.

Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination, Makhdoom Jamil said that provincial autonomy was the panacea to all problems, adding that Sindh would oppose the division of Punjab.

Minister for Local Government Agha Siraj Durani, Minister for Information Technology Raza Haroon, Minister for Population Welfare Jam Mehtab, Taimur Talpur, Minister for Transport Akhter Jadoon, Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza, Minister for Excise Mukesh Chawla, Agha Taimur, Bilqees Mukhtar, Tariq Arain, Izharul Hasan, Najmuddin Abro and others also spoke.

A motion was also unanimously passed, deferring the consideration of Finance Bill for Saturday before the session was adjourned by Speaker Nisar Khuhro till Friday morning.

Tensions stall plan by Pakistan, India to share ‘Basmati’ tag

Post Source: Daily Times – June 25, 2009

NEW DELHI: Tensions between India and Pakistan have thwarted their plans to jointly own the term ‘Basmati’ for the aromatic rice, much as producers in Champagne, France, have the exclusive right to name their product.

The South Asian neighbors are big producers of the iconic long-grained rice, which is in rising demand from middle-class Indians as well as buyers in the Middle East and among Indians, and their restaurants, world-wide.

India and Pakistan had planned to file a joint application for what is called a ‘geographic indication’ tag to lay claim to the name ‘Basmati.’

But the basmati bandwagon has been derailed in the wake of the November’s terrorist attack on Mumbai, which was launched by militants sailing from Karachi.

“Talks on the issue are stalled following the Mumbai terror attacks,” Haroon Rashid, vice chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan said.

“India definitely has the right to apply independently,” Rashid said. “If they go alone to apply for international GI status, we will do the same.”

Earlier this year, then Indian Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh told the upper house of India’s Parliament that all negotiations and communications on basmati were on the back burner. “The joint registration of basmati rice would have to wait till full normalisation of relations took place between India and Pakistan,” he said.

The idea of jointly locking up the basmati name was first floated five years ago. Under the original plan, India and Pakistan would first file a joint application at India’s Geographic Indications Registry office in Chennai, and then joint apply in Europe.

India is moving ahead. On Nov 28 by coincidence, while the Mumbai attacks were under way a trade body that is part of the Indian Commerce Ministry filed an application at the Chennai registry. It sought to secure the basmati trademark in India, a necessary step before applying for international protection. In February, India’s Parliament passed a law that gave the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority the power to fight for protection of basmati. If it secures a trademark from the registry, it can apply for protection of the basmati name internationally with or without Pakistan.

According to the export-development authority, 123 nations export some of their rice production. But only India and Pakistan export Basmati. In 2008, India exported 1.5 million tonne while Pakistan shipped out 1.2 million tonne.

In India, basmati is cultivated predominantly in Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan grows basmati on its side of the Himalayan foothills. About 400,000 farmers are engaged in the cultivation of basmati in the Indo-Gangetic plains on both sides of the border. courtesy wall street journal

Govt to set up 400 livestock farms

Post Source: The News, Wednesday, June 24, 2009
By Shahid Shah

KARACHI: The government planning and development division has planned to initiate a 3-year project for poverty reduction through livestock development.

The project ‘Poverty Reduction through Smallholder Livestock Development’ will be implemented this year across the country with sponsoring of Planning Commission and Ministry of Livestock and Dairy Development.

According to details obtained by The News the project will be operated and maintained by Livestock Holders Associations on self-financing and self-sustaining basis under the guidance of project management. The community will share Rs472.45 million in a project of Rs3539.13 million. Livestock sector is the major contributor with 52 per cent of the agriculture GDP and is a source of livelihood for around one third population or 55 million people.

Pakistan is 5th largest milk producer in the world but production of milk animals remains low. More than 90 per cent livestock are owned or kept by small farmers and landless rural households (52 per cent female, 48 per cent male). About 90 per cent of total milk supply come from these smallholders. In most parts of the country, women dominate the livestock in terms of feeding, milking and marketing of milk.

During 2007-08, about 42.2 billion liters of milk was produced, of which 34 billion liters (81 per cent) were used for human consumption and only 1.26 billion liters are being processed and rest of the milk are marketed raw.

According to project details, the primary objective of the proposed project is to bring social and economic transformation of rural Pakistan by empowering millions of small livestock holders comprising the poor landless farmers including women.

The project envisages establishing 400 smallholders’ livestock farms in the country in three years specifically designed to cater to the needs of poor farmers and landless livestock smallholders who subsist on milk animals for their livelihood. The government will provide a grant up to 80 per cent for infrastructure development.

PA opposes federal ministers’ quota for fertilisers

Post Source: The News, Thursday, June 25, 2009
By our correspondent

LAHORE: Parliamentarians in the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday strongly protested against awarding the quota for distribution of fertilisers to the federal ministers.

Shahzadi Umer Tiwana and Mian Rafique of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz raised the issue of quota in the distribution of fertilisers among the federal ministers and urged the provincial government to inquire Federal Minister for Production Manzoor Wattoo as under what law he was giving such quotas.

Senior Advisor Sardar Zulifqar Khosa, in response to the allegations from treasury benches, stated that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had convened a meeting in Islamabad in the beginning of this month to discuss the issue of fertilizers.

He said the federal minister for production had insisted that fertilisers should be distributed through the officials of the Trade Corporation of Pakistan. He said that he had raised the point that the TCP had insufficient staff, which could not distribute fertilizers to the farmers. 

Post Source: Daily Express – Lahore (June 25, 2009)

Express 24, 2009

Post Source: Daily Aajkal – Lahore June 25, 2009

Aajkal 25, 2009

Upgrading farmer service centres

By Tahir Ali (Dawn Economic & Business Review June 22 to 28, 2009)

Farmers Centres DAWN

TO increase productivity and income of farmers, the NWFP government launched farmer service centres (FSCs) a few years ago.

FSC is an organisation of the farmers for the farmers by the farmers. It creates linkages between farmers and public/private line departments and associations and aims at the capacity-building of farmers. The provincial government has spent Rs255 millions so far on the FSCs.

There are around 45,000 members of the FSCs. “Farmers can become FSC members after paying an enrolment fee of Rs100 and a share-money of Rs500 each. The government provides a matching grant equal to the farmers’ share.

Against the minimum number of 200, the current FSC membership ranges from 500 to 2,000. But the overall FSC membership is very small compared to 1.356 million farms in the province.

Growers complain that the executive body (EB) of the FSC is supposed to serve as a bridge between the general body (GB) and the management committee (MC), but interaction between them is not a regular feature. In some areas, the GB and EB members pursue their individual interests which may weaken the system.

The MC is supposed to take all important decisions but in effect, 75 per cent of all FSCs are predominantly managed by agriculture officers because of their final say in financial matters. This goes against the FSC by-laws that provide autonomy to these establishments.

In 2007, model farm services centres (MFSCs) were opened in each district of the NWFP. The government provided Rs1 million endowment funds to each entity. It also constructed a building complex containing offices of all relevant departments along with warehouse, equipment, machinery, training and conference hall. A president, invariably a farmer, heads the MFSC.

MFSCs have been built in 22 of 24 NWFP districts. Kohistan is yet to have one while that of Batagram is under construction. Unfortunately, those in Malakand division are non-functional these days The MFSC is registered under Cooperative Societies Act. An official says the government intends to enact a law to give sanctity and credence to the entity and its resolutions.

The NWFP Project Director of MFSCs Rasool Mohammad said the project was for a three-year period and after that the MFSCs would be able to run on their own.“This objective will be obtained through consultation and training of farmers,” he added.

He revealed that MFSCs provided 22,500 bags of fertiliser at half of the market price to its members last year when there was an acute shortage of the commodity. “Quality wheat seeds and other inputs were also supplied on official prices.These services are sources of income not only for MFSCs but also save time, energy and money of farmers besides expediting the pace of work and services,” he said.

He said seven departments agriculture extension, agricultural research, water management, soil conservation, cooperative inspector, water and soil testing, livestock/poultry and plant protection will have offices in MFSCs and provide services through MFSC under the same roof. Some departments, he said, were yet to shift to the MFSCs.

“Millions of rupees are available with the FSCs. If these funds are spent judiciously with the technical advice and expertise provided by the government, it will go a long way in development of agriculture in the province,” he believed.Asif Ali Jah, a farmer and president of MFSC Haripur, told this scribe that the MFSC was a revolutionary idea which, if expanded, would solve agriculture-related problems.

“We provided cheap inputs, modern machinery on rent and even interest free loans in form of inputs that had 100 per cent recovery ratio. We also provided fertiliser worth Rs1.8 millions last year. We have also booked a large quantity of DAP for the Kharif season,” said Jah.

Out of the seventy per cent of Haripur’s one million population were farmers, he said just 1,529 farmers had joined MFSC. Jah, however, claimed that his was the only MFSC in NWFP that had 70 female farmers as its registered members.

Jah demanded fertiliser dealership and setting up of a provincial organisation for MFSCs. “Small projects for value addition should be planned and specialists in various fields, like poultry in Mansehra, should be nominated for all MFSCs.” Hafiz Minhajuddin, the president of MFSC Laki Marwat said that farmers need quality inputs, exposure to modern farming techniques and machinery, and availability of credit support. “MFSC coordinates between growers and government. It provides cheap agriculture inputs and services. It provides farmers guidance and marketing services for their outputs, which in-turn, increases their incomes,” said Minhaj.

Malik Jamshed, president of MFSC Mardan, said MFSC provided wheat seeds last year at Rs1,600 per bag as against Rs2,200 market price. Member-farmers were sold a bag of urea at Rs670, much below its market price of around Rs1100.” He pleaded for processing and cold storage, seed certification, soil and water testing facilities for MFSCs. “The government should give endowment fund of Rs5 million to each MFSC for purchase of inputs and machinery. Maximum limit for farmers from MFSC fund should be enlarged and period of loan recovery extended. All departments should be asked to cooperate.”Jamshed demanded early construction of cattle-farm and cattle-colony in Mardan. “The government has built a large building for our MFSC. But it is agonising that all departments except agricultural extension are yet to join their offices in MFSC here,” he lamented.

Paltry allocation for agriculture

By Ahmad Fraz Khan Dawn Economic & Business Review, June 22-28, 2009

22_06_2009_603_004_010

THE allocation for agriculture in the Punjab budget has been meagre. Of Rs175 billion annual development plan (ADP), the agriculture got only Rs3.2 billion. A mere 1.8 per cent of the overall development outlay has been made for a sector, which forms 22 per cent of the provincial GDP, provides around 45 per cent of employment and is professed priority area of national and provincial policy makers.

There is another way to look at importance of agriculture. The sector yielded some 2.7 million tons additional wheat this year, which, at current price is worth Rs62 billion. It produced 0.5 million tons extra rice – some 3.7 million tons against normal production of 3.2 million tons. These fours crops—wheat, rice, grain and maize–have benefited the economy by Rs113 billion during last six months.

Punjab has fiscal space for development during the coming year, which could have easily been diverted to development of farming had the agriculture department better capacity to deliver. Last year’s budgetary allocations and subsequent spending show where the departmental capacity stands: out of the total budget of Rs3 billion, it spent Rs1.6 billion. If the last year’s left over is carried forward, the new allocation would stand only at Rs1.8 billion.

Barring the importance of taking cotton to non-traditional areas and growing it on pressurised irrigation, which the department has advocated and got money for it, one can argue that all other major issues have been ignored.

Take the example of storage crisis which is essential for safe stocks (read food security). The province has 2.2 million tons of indoor, not modern or temperature controlled, storage capacity, whereas it needs at least seven million tons of such storage capacity to ensure regulated grain supply and buffer stocks. This year, it purchased six million tons of wheat, four million tons of which are lying in the open.

Given the changing weather pattern, with sudden and heavy showers becoming a routine, even if one million tons of wheat gets affected, it would cost the province a staggering Rs25 billion. The government has not spared any money for increasing storage capacity in the province. It is lamentable that a province, which owns 80 per cent national agriculture assets, has neither been able to build required storage capacity nor seems interested despite having fiscal space.

The government has taken all steps that bring immediate political mileage and ignored all long-term possibilities. It has spared Rs13 billion for food subsidy, Rs16 billion for food support plan and Rs7 billion for sasti roti (low price bread).

Though it may sound insensitive to differ on food subsidies given the level of poverty. But one can argue that had this amount (Rs36 billion) been spent on industrialisation (value addition) or manufacturing of agriculture inputs, the province could have benefited immensely..

The country is in perennial deficit of fertiliser. Had even half this amount been spent of setting up fertiliser factories, the rural poverty could have started dropping on sustained scale in next few years. But, the government seems interested in handing out fish to people rather than teaching them how to catch one. The budget seems focused on quick political gains rather than calm, cool, calculated planning, especially when it comes to agriculture.

Agriculture credit has always been a problem for farmers in Punjab. The provincial government has simply chosen to keep quiet on the issue despite owning two banks – the Bank of Punjab and Punjab Cooperative Bank. There has been no mention of the issue in the entire document.

Banking for agriculture is a commercial activity because it entails no subsidy on mark-up. But it contributes immensely to agricultural economy. Nor has the government been able to re-direct focus of the BoP towards agriculture.

Punjab has pathetic marketing infrastructure, which is out of the budget focus. No money has been spared for developing marketing network. Its premier agency – Punjab Agriculture Marketing Company (Pamco) – for developing such infrastructure has not been able to perform with three new heads in the last one year. It does not have even one project to its credit for the last five years, nor has it devel oped any alternative mechanism.

An allocation of Rs1.2 billion for research augurs well and one hopes that Punjab Agriculture Research Board, which has not been able to perform during the last two year, pulls its socks up this year. The government needs to ensure that its money is well spent.

The repeat of subsidised tractor scheme is also heart-warming for Punjab farmers. The government distributed 10,000 tractors last year and plans to distribute 10,000 this year at a cost of Rs2 billion. Its transparent distribution helped farm mechanisation..

Water management allocation (Rs10 billion), though less than Rs11.5 billion last year, is still a substantial amount and should he able to help better water distribution in Punjab. The government plans to spend 90 per cent of the amount on on-going projects but it would undertake eight new projects to improve efficiency. Some 200 small dams in upper parts of the province must be of great help at the local level.

In final analysis, the provincial budget seems to be “run of the mill document,” which tries to keep the momentum of on-going schemes rather than breaking new ground. Tragedy with the provincial agriculture, however, is that traditional methods would not solve problems. It needs innovative thinking, out of box solutions and sustained, long-term commitments. The proposed budget, however, fails on all these accounts.