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Pakistan - PKI calls for assessment of crop losses, compensation for farmers

Pakistan Kissan Itehad (PKI) has appealed Prime Minister Imran Khan to order assessment of crop losses and compensate farmers so that they could be in a position to plant substitute crops or continue their economic cycle.

President PKI Khalid Khokhar, who has written a letter to the Prime Minister, said PKI had been shaking government for locust control for the last eight months, when it first appeared and travelling to desserts in India. Unfortunately, the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) and the provincial government have not done enough nor the Federal Government could release funds for aircraft or hiring of human resource for the combat of this pest in the last year or so.

He said desert locust was invading crops and orchards in the Central Punjab and South Punjab and again government officials were sleeping with peace. It ruined cotton crop, maize, Sesame Mung bean crop, fodders, and damaged the mango orchards.

“If it continues it will lead us to famine like situation. If not enough fodder would be available it will have great threat to livestock industry and especially for those small growers and families who have entire livelihood attached to such animals and its milk production,” he added.

Cotton crop, which had been planted on merely a small acreage due to shortage of seed and its poor quality, had been eaten up by the locusts and farmers had no seed left for its re-planting or gap filling, Khokhar said, adding similarly other Kharif crops like sesame, maize, pulses and Guara all had been damaged.

He was of the view that government’s locust management was functioning very well on social media and probably on papers but could not see on ground or fields. The federal DPP, which has the mandate, own planes and pilots turned out all planes were unable to fly, pilots were unable to fly aircrafts and had no stocks of pesticides. This is such a criminal negligence on the part of the Department and the failure of the government that a department and dedicated staff members who have been getting million of rupees in salary from the taxpayers’ money, for years, when needed, were unable to deliver.

“We the Pakistan Kissan Itehad strongly condemned the lethargic attitude of the government towards this issue which could damage the economy and food security many time more than the Coronavirus and playing meeting – meeting,” he maintained. PKI has urged the government to wake up and give due attention to this menace and help farmers to combat with this situation.

Meanwhile, former Minister for Power, Awais Leghari, in a tweet said Pakistan’s agriculture production would be reduced by more than Rs 800 billion. This loss is due to incompetence and lack of action by the PTI government in Punjab and in Islamabad.

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