Friday, March 19, 2010

Agricultural Attrocities

A few days back i had the opportunity to visit a farm located at the outer skirts of Karachi.It was a small farm of about 8 to 10 acres but was an extremely fertile piece of land.The owner of the farm was a 60 year old man who was supposed to be our guide for the day.Upon our arrival the old man came running to us and greeted us warmly.The old man was wearing shabby looking clothes and his hands were dirty,obviously he had been working in the field before our arrival.He then offered us lassi,a traditional drink made from yogurt and milk.We had a little chit chat before the old man took us to his home.
I was both shocked and surprised to see the man's home.It consisted of two small rooms situated side by side,a bathroom in the front yard and no kitchen at all.The walls were not painted and the plaster was falling off the ceiling at some places.At one corner of the room was a woman doing some cooking.We were taken to the other room where we settled on an old,torn carpet.I was informed that the area had no supply of gas and people still burned wood to cook food.
I had always thought that farmers in Pakistan lived prosperous lives as portrayed by the media but, i was wrong.My friend who accompanied me then explained that even if a poor farmers gets a bumper crop,his living conditions are unlikely to improve much.In this case the old man who had incurred all production costs was forced to sell his crop(tomatoes in this case) at Rs 3 per kg to the wholesaler.On the other hand the wholesaler who does nothing except to transport the crop from the farm to the market earns more than Rs 8 per kg.The farmers have no choice because thousands of farmers in Pakistan do not have storage facilities and neither can they afford to buy trucks to transport their goods to the markets.
Our government on the other hand has done nothing to improve the financial conditions of such small scale farmers.They are left at the mercy of the wholesalers.
These wholesalers not only eat up a large share of the farmers profit but also artificially raise the retail price of agricultural products.These wholesalers should be banned and the government should come up with proper policies so that our poor deprived farmers get their due share.

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