Archive for January, 2010

MPAs demand comprehensive agriculture policy

Post Source: Staff Reporter – DailyTimes 

* PA members criticise role of marketing committees’ chairmen
* MPA asks for replacement of current agriculture marketing system

Staff Report

LAHORE: Punjab Assembly members criticised the province’s agriculture marketing system during Tuesday’s proceedings and demanded the formulation of comprehensive agricultural policies and an end to the current system.

The members asked if new chairmen of marketing committees had been appointed and what were their roles. MPA Syed Hasan Murtaza said the previously-appointed chairmen did not perform any duties and were the most lethargic people around, yet they enjoyed the facilities of an office, official vehicles and staff. He said their secretaries were the ones actually enjoying the authority, as they had to be contacted for any official work instead of the chairmen. The members also asked about the government’s steps regarding improvement of the agriculture marketing system and new agricultural policies.

Replacement: Regarding the existing marketing system and the government’s agricultural policy, MPA Chaudhry Javed Ahmed said the system was outdated and should be replaced as soon as possible to facilitate the masses and farmers. He said the Punjab government should devise a comprehensive agricultural policy if it has not done so already.

Defending the allegations levelled against marketing committee’s chairmen, Punjab Agriculture Minister Ahmed Ali Aulakh said a chairman is authorised to perform certain duties under the rules and regulations, however, the chairmen’s posts of all the committees were currently vacant. He said the chairmen would be elected after the local bodies elections.

Benefits: Aulakh said as far as the government’s agricultural policy is concerned, they are taking positive steps to improve the sector. He said establishment of cold storages, export of fruits and provision of environment-friendly tractors were a result of the government’s policies. He said the government was also taking steps to provide maximum benefit to farmers by reducing the role of the middleman and procuring crops directly from the farmers. He added that legislation was also being made in this regard.

The House also unanimously passed resolutions tabled by the opposition for benefiting the public. The resolutions included free allotment of three- and five-marla residential plots to the needy besides providing them loans on easy terms so they can build their houses on these plots. Deputy opposition leader Muhammad Yar Hiraj presented the resolutions. MPA Naseem Lodhi also presented a resolution regarding immediate steps for the provision of National Cadet Corps training at government schools. The House passed both the resolutions unanimously.

The opposition also suggested amendments to the Punjab Public Service Commission and Punjab Office of the Ombudsman bills, seeking that the offices be bound to send their annual reports to the House within a specific period of time instead of the current suggestion of submissions “as early as possible”.

Advertisements

Water shortage to cause 40pc decline in wheat output

Post Source: The Nation – By Ashraf Javed

LAHORE – Agriculturists, water experts and growers have predicted that country could experience 30 to 40 per cent decline in wheat production this year as the farmers are facing worst water shortage after India cut down up to 50 per cent of water flow at Chenab River, putting the wheat crops in Punjab at stake.

On the other hand, weather pundits have also forecast scarcity of rains for this year.

President Pakistan Muttahida Kisan Mahaz (PMKM) Ayub Khan Mayo who recently visited Head-Marala to review water situation said that the wheat crops in Sindh and Punjab are in danger as the growers community is facing worst water shortage.

He also criticised the government’s silence over Chenab River water steal by India. “Under the Indus Water Basin Treaty, India is required to release 16,000 cusec Chenab water to Pakistan whereas water flow at Head Marala has been reduced to only 5000-Cusec as a result of construction of Baglihar Dam in Occupied Kashmir. Drastic fall in Chenab water flow had resulted in closure of Marala Ravi Link, Upper Chenab and BRB canals which met 75 percent canal water requirement of Punjab,” he maintained.

The closure of three canals has created an acute shortage of water for Rabi crop, and wheat production is likely to fall drastically in Punjab, Mayo added.

According to the Indus Water Treaty, India could not use Chenab water, as it could affect the quantity or flow of river. It goes without saying that by making the reservoir, the flow of water will definitely be affected.
“Pakistan is facing acute shortage of water due to India’s river water diversion plan, which has adversely impacted the farmers and made it difficult for them to keep their body and soul together,” Chairman Agri-Forum Pakistan Ibrahim Mughal said on Monday. He said that the wheat production could be less than the set target of 25 millions tons this year as the Indian water aggression is continued unabated.

He also said that the worst water scarcity would badly damage the wheat crops standing at no less than 2.5 million acre in the central Punjab. “This all is happening due to the construction of controversial Baglihar Dam and closure of Pakistan’s water by India,” Ibrahim Mughal said.

He further said that the water aggression would also damage grain crops in the Punjab province besides badly affecting the sowing of sugarcane crop.
Mughal also said that the government functionaries and advisors have the habit of issuing warnings that they would take up the matter with the World Bank or ICJ.

He also blamed the previous government for procrastination, the present ruling and opposition parties are involved in internecine conflict and India, meanwhile, may complete Kishanganga project.

In 2008, Pakistan suffered a loss exceeding Rs5 billion in paddy crop production only in the wake of water shortage after India stopped Chenab water to fill the Baglihar Dam in September.

Zadar Iqbal, a progressive farmer from Mailsi, said that in the past, there had been wars between the countries over religions, usurpation of territories and control of resources including oil, but in view of acute shortages of water in Africa, Middle East, Asia and many other places, the future wars would now be fought over water.

In addition to Kashmir dispute, the Indus River Basin has been an area of conflict between India and Pakistan for about four decades. Spanning 1,800 miles, the river and its tributaries together make up one of the largest irrigation canals in the world.

Dams and canals built in order to provide hydropower and irrigation have dried up stretches of the Indus River. The division of the river basin water has created friction among the countries of South Asia, and among their states and provinces.

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique, an agriculturist from Faisalabad University says, “Pakistan, indeed, needs large reservoirs to meet the growing food requirements of ever-increasing population, whereas for the last three decades none of the government has been able to evolve a national consensus on construction of Kalabagh Dam.”

Today, he said, agricultural sector contributes 24 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); two-third of population living in rural areas depends on it; absorbs more than 50 per cent of the labour force and provides the base for 75 per cent of exports in the form of raw materials and value-added products.

There is realisation in all the provinces that water shortages can lead to food shortages and also rifts between the provinces.
But the issue had been politicised for the last 30 years and genuine efforts were not made by the governments and leaders to resolve the contradictions by showing sense of accommodation and understanding of one another’s problems, he added.

Water shortage to cause 40pc decline in wheat output

Post Source: The Nation

LAHORE – Agriculturists, water experts and growers have predicted that country could experience 30 to 40 per cent decline in wheat production this year as the farmers are facing worst water shortage after India cut down up to 50 per cent of water flow at Chenab River, putting the wheat crops in Punjab at stake.

On the other hand, weather pundits have also forecast scarcity of rains for this year.

President Pakistan Muttahida Kisan Mahaz (PMKM) Ayub Khan Mayo who recently visited Head-Marala to review water situation said that the wheat crops in Sindh and Punjab are in danger as the growers community is facing worst water shortage.

He also criticised the government’s silence over Chenab River water steal by India. “Under the Indus Water Basin Treaty, India is required to release 16,000 cusec Chenab water to Pakistan whereas water flow at Head Marala has been reduced to only 5000-Cusec as a result of construction of Baglihar Dam in Occupied Kashmir. Drastic fall in Chenab water flow had resulted in closure of Marala Ravi Link, Upper Chenab and BRB canals which met 75 percent canal water requirement of Punjab,” he maintained.
The closure of three canals has created an acute shortage of water for Rabi crop, and wheat production is likely to fall drastically in Punjab, Mayo added.

According to the Indus Water Treaty, India could not use Chenab water, as it could affect the quantity or flow of river. It goes without saying that by making the reservoir, the flow of water will definitely be affected.
“Pakistan is facing acute shortage of water due to India’s river water diversion plan, which has adversely impacted the farmers and made it difficult for them to keep their body and soul together,” Chairman Agri-Forum Pakistan Ibrahim Mughal said on Monday. He said that the wheat production could be less than the set target of 25 millions tons this year as the Indian water aggression is continued unabated.

He also said that the worst water scarcity would badly damage the wheat crops standing at no less than 2.5 million acre in the central Punjab. “This all is happening due to the construction of controversial Baglihar Dam and closure of Pakistan’s water by India,” Ibrahim Mughal said.

He further said that the water aggression would also damage grain crops in the Punjab province besides badly affecting the sowing of sugarcane crop.
Mughal also said that the government functionaries and advisors have the habit of issuing warnings that they would take up the matter with the World Bank or ICJ.

He also blamed the previous government for procrastination, the present ruling and opposition parties are involved in internecine conflict and India, meanwhile, may complete Kishanganga project.

In 2008, Pakistan suffered a loss exceeding Rs5 billion in paddy crop production only in the wake of water shortage after India stopped Chenab water to fill the Baglihar Dam in September.

Zadar Iqbal, a progressive farmer from Mailsi, said that in the past, there had been wars between the countries over religions, usurpation of territories and control of resources including oil, but in view of acute shortages of water in Africa, Middle East, Asia and many other places, the future wars would now be fought over water.

In addition to Kashmir dispute, the Indus River Basin has been an area of conflict between India and Pakistan for about four decades. Spanning 1,800 miles, the river and its tributaries together make up one of the largest irrigation canals in the world.

Dams and canals built in order to provide hydropower and irrigation have dried up stretches of the Indus River. The division of the river basin water has created friction among the countries of South Asia, and among their states and provinces.

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique, an agriculturist from Faisalabad University says, “Pakistan, indeed, needs large reservoirs to meet the growing food requirements of ever-increasing population, whereas for the last three decades none of the government has been able to evolve a national consensus on construction of Kalabagh Dam.”

Today, he said, agricultural sector contributes 24 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); two-third of population living in rural areas depends on it; absorbs more than 50 per cent of the labour force and provides the base for 75 per cent of exports in the form of raw materials and value-added products.

There is realisation in all the provinces that water shortages can lead to food shortages and also rifts between the provinces.

But the issue had been politicised for the last 30 years and genuine efforts were not made by the governments and leaders to resolve the contradictions by showing sense of accommodation and understanding of one another’s problems, he added.

کسانوں اور زرعی مزدوروں کے حقوق کیلئے سیپ کی ملک گیر مہم شروع

لاہور (نیوز رپورٹر) چھٹی قومی زراعت شماری مےں کسانوں اورزرعی مزدوروں خصوصا عورتوںاو اقلےتوں کے مسائل اٹھانے کے لئے سیپ پاکستان نے ملک گیر مہم کا آغاز کر دیا ہے تاکہ سرکاری پالےسےوں منصوبو ں اور قانون سازی کے عمل مےں شمولےت سے ان محروم لوگوں کو روزگار کی فراہمی ،تحفظ خوراک،کے مواقع وپروگرام اور وسائل مہےا کئے جا سکےں ۔ساوتھ ایشیا پارٹنر شپ نے اس امر پر گہری تشوےش کا اظہارکیاہے کہ اس اہم ترےن کام مےںکسان و مزدور عورتوں کو مکمل طور پر نظر انداز کےا گےا ہے ،ان کے ابتر حالات کے بارے مےں ہماری رےاست کا روےہ ہر گز بھی مناسب نہےںاسی لئے زراعت شماری مےں ان کے مسائل و حالات کوشامل نہےں کےا جاتا اور نہ ہی وہ قومی منصوبہ سازی اور پالےسےوں کا حصہ بن سکتے ہےں۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ افراد شماری ہو ےا زراعت شماری ،ہماری ر ےا ست اسے بطو رہتھےار استعمال کرتی چلی آ رہی ہے اورنمونہ جاتی زراعت شماری کے ذرےعہ رےاست اپنے من پسند اعداد وشمار اور معلومات اکٹھی کر کے اپنے کام مےں لا تی ہے اورےہ خد شہ بھی ہے کہ کہےں اےسا تو نہےں کہ حکو مت زراعت شماری کے ذرےعے کارپورٹ فارمنگ کےلئے ز رعی زمےنوں کے کوائف ا کٹھے کرناچاہتی ہو تاکہ ےہ معلومات غےر ملکی کمپنےوں کو فراہم کی جا سکےں ۔سےپ پاکستان اور اس کے نےٹ ورک مےں شامل تنظےموں اور کسانوں و مزدوروں کے نمائےندے نے مطا لبہ کیا ہے کہ زراعت شماری نمونہ جاتی کے بجائے ملک گےر سطح ُپر کرائی جائے اورکسانوں ومزدوروں (عورتوں، مردوں اور اقلےتوں ) پر مشتمل کل آبادی مےں خوراک ،تعلےم ،صحت ،روز گار اور دےگر صورتحال کے بارے مےں اعداد و شمار اکٹھے کئے جائےں زرعی پےداواری عمل مےں عورتوں کے کام کی ہر نوعےت سامنے لائی جائے اور زرعی معشےےت مےں ان کے حصے کو بھی اجاگر کےا جائے ۔

‘Govt to produce 3-4pc extra fertiliser’

Post Source: The News – January 16, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The government would produce three to four per cent extra fertilizers from its demand during the current year due to its effective policies.

Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Federal Minister for Labour and Manpower, told the National Assembly in question hour on Friday that the prices of DAP would increase if an industry was established in the country that is why they import DAP from abroad. The minister agreed to form a task force to look into the affairs of fertilizers, their non-availability issues and prices.

He was of the view that the government had not sold out any sick or even profitable unit to anyone and a policy in this regard was being prepared to turn sick units into profitable. Meanwhile, answering a question regarding the decrease in exports of leather products by Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the minister told the House that their export decreased from 35-40 per cent during the past year but assured that these exports would get momentum in the coming year.

The leather business has been given special focus in the new trade policy, he added. Answering questions regarding government steps towards the export of fruits and vegetables, Khursheed said the government was working to establish cold storages in different cities and some of them would be functional till 2011.

Producing quality seed

Post Source: DAWN ECONOMIC & BUSINESS REVIEW

 

By Fahim Nawaz

The informal sector is the major source of seed supply where more than 90 per cent of seeds come from farmers or sources like commission agents, retailers and shopkeepers.The policy makers, donors and scientific community need to help organise systematic seed production to enhance agricultural output.

The provision of infrastructure, financial incentives and improved marketing is needed to promote seed industry. The organisation of informal sector by forming seed growers association and provision of small cleaning units and storage facilities would help develop good quality seed. The agricultural departments and media can play an important in creating awareness in the farming community particularly in small farmers about the production of quality seed.

The formal seed sector comprises public sector organisations and private seed companies. The private companies fulfill the demand of fodder and forages seed and of oilseeds to some extent but much of the seed for these crops is imported. This is due to failure of public sector to produce fodder seed on commercial scale and lack of hybrid seed production programme in the private sector. The private sector provides seed at higher rates than the public sector and every company has a different price for the same crop seed because imported seed is much more expensive than that produced locally.

The lack of plant breeding programme in the private sector is the major constraint in the supply of sufficient amount of good quality seed to the farmers. Although public sector organisations are playing a key role in the variety development, registration and release but their performance is not satisfactory due to lack of resources and independent organisation for seed purpose. The less developed seed sector in NWFP and Balochistan is affecting seed production in these provinces and private sector should be encouraged to enter the seed business.

There is need to provide incentives for the development of national seed sector. Reorganisation or privatisation of public seed companies would increase efficiency and encourage national private seed companies to establish basic seed production units to organise seed production programme.

The local vegetable seed production by private sector should be encouraged by providing incentives. The private sector should be facilitated to establish its own basic seed production units in all the provinces. FSC and RD should be strengthened by establishing new laboratories and levying fees for variety registration and seed certification services.

The import and export of seed were allowed under the Truth-in-Labeling (Seed), Rules 1991 and import of seed of only those varieties was allowed that were approved in the national register for seed and crop production. A very liberal and friendly seed policy provides an opportunity to enter into seed business in the country but it also pose a threat for local seed production projects especially in case of vegetables and hybrid seed.

The quality of seed is controlled and monitored by FSC & RD and it has successfully monitored the quality of seed to safeguard the farmers and seed industry by enforcing the Seed Act 1976 and Truth-in-Labeling (Seeds) Rules, 1991 of seed imported from other countries. There is need to bring gradual reduction in import of seeds by developing and improving the local production.

The seed processing capacity is mainly concentrated in Punjab and Sindh compared to in the other two provinces. The available seed processing capacity does not correspond with the targets of seed procurement and it should be increased by installing small cleaning units.

The storage facilities are also not satisfactory. Appropriate seed storage facilities should be built to maintain the quality of seed offered for sale.

The provincial seed corporations provide seed to farmers through their own seed depots, seed dealers and other public sector organisations and are responsible for marketing and distribution of seed. However, in Balochistan, seed is supplied by agricultural extension services, agricultural research institutes and sales points established by the agriculture department. Inefficient marketing system leads to carry-over stocks which affects procurement targets of next year. Private sector has comparatively better marketing system than public sector.

The need of documentation and data base for planning and management of seed industry has increased in the modern age of globalisation. This will attract the foreign investors to plan for the establishment of seed industry either independently or through joint venture with national private seed sector. The compilation of a comprehensive document “Seed Industry of Pakistan” is a step in the right direction.

Punjab govt urged to allot land to poor women farmers

Post Source: The News International – By Saadia Khalid – Islamabad

The representatives of women groups, women’s organizations and human rights activists demanded of the Punjab government to allocate land to poor women farmers as well.

They hailed the decision of the Punjab government regarding allotment of land to landless peasants in Punjab, but stressed that the land should also be allocated to women farmers.

The representing organizations included Awam Dost Foundation-Bhakkar, Pakistan Welfare Society, Layyah, Women’s Organization for Rights and Development-Islamabad (WORD), Women’s Action Forum-Islamabad, Women Worker’s Helpline-Lahore, SYCOP-Muzzaffargarh, Peasant Women’s Society Okara, Nomad Center Islamabad, Mehrgarh Learning Center-Islamabad, Strengthening Participatory Organization-Islamabad (SPO), Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy, Islamabad (PODA) and Aurat Foundation, Islamabad.

The representatives of the organizations said that the government should not only allocate land to women farmers, but also facilitate them in cultivating the land by establishing agriculture support centres at UC level for women so that agriculture inputs especially indigenous seeds, fertilizers and machines such as threshers should be provided to women.

According to them trainings should be organized through these centres for women peasants to further strengthen their knowledge, encourage organic farming and keep them updated on new techniques. Such progressive reforms in policies and legislation will not only eradicate gender discrimination but will also improve the status of women farmers in our country as key to national food security and nutrition.

The women’s groups and representatives of women farmers have struggled hard for years, through nationwide campaigns, advocating for policy changes based on social and economic justice to demand women’s right to land.

Women have always played a very significant role in the agriculture sector; about 79% of women as compared to 57% men are employed in the agriculture sector (ADB 2000). Their role as producers and providers of food, their contribution to the sustenance and survival of the household and economy is immense, it often goes unnoticed.

Women have always been on the frontline in the fight against hunger and poverty. But their agricultural work is often trivialized and seen as an extension of their domestic work.

Although legally women in Pakistan can own and inherit land but they have little access and control, when it comes to national policies or distribution of resources women is only implicitly mentioned. States can be more food secure by implementing and upholding new policies or laws that give women more secure rights to own or access land in their own right as citizens.