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Protecting small farmers’ rights for their economic survival

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Protecting small farmers' rights for their economic survival

Despite being the mainstay and major contributors to the national economy, small farmers in the country are on the brink of sustenance in view of the rising cost of inputs, low productivity and shrinking profitability.

Cultivating each crop with high expectations of profit and earning living for their families, these farmers earn minimal at the end of the day as a major chunk of their expected profit is usurped by input providers and middlemen.

Even in the main hubs of agriculture; the Punjab and Sindh provinces, the ancestral land after multiple distributions among the heirs had shrunk into small patches. Non-promotion of corporate instead of traditional farming and climatic effects are other factors thinning their output and income thus heralding danger of food security.

The situation is not different in South Punjab where about 77 % population lives in rural areas and the majority among them are directly or indirectly linked to agriculture.

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Since the region is usually very backward with farmers having the least access to markets, small farmers remain under immense stress due to rising inflation and their continued exploitation by the middlemen, dealers and commission agents.

As the region produces 98% mangoes, 80% cotton, 94% black currant (falsa), 92% green chilli, 75% sunflower, 73% onion, 49% sugarcane, 46% tomato, 45% maize and 44% wheat crop, it is very rare that small farmers get due share of profit.

Therefore, due to this tendency, per hour average income of a person in this area is just Rs 65 as compared to Rs 95 per hour average income in Central and Northern Punjab as reported by United Nations Development Program (UNDP), a few months back.

Small Farmer and representative of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad Khalid Araen has expressed dismay over the increasing prices of inputs and lessening profit of farmers.

“The small farmers are unable to purchase expensive inputs. Therefore, they are unable to obtain full production from their fields,” he remarked. “As small farmers are disorganized and do not raise unanimous voice for their rights, they fall victim to exploiters.”

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Khalid also mentioned to some issues and hurdles in proper functioning of the Kissan Body and pleaded that small farmers should be given maximum subsidy on inputs to help them attain handsome production and profit.

He invited attention of concerned authorities towards high rate of irrigation water by tube well owners. “They charge Rs 1000 per hour for irrigation water that is unaffordable for small farmers. At least the government should address the issues of water and fertilizers cost especially in case of small farmers.”

Umar Daraz, another farmer stated that small farmers owning land less than six acres could not run their kitchen through farming. “The government should pay special heed to their issues as they are in big number and major contributors to agricultural produce.”

He also suggested to introducing modern farming and promoting cash crops for immediate relief to farmers.

Vice Chancellor Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture Dr Asif also opined that it is very difficult for small farmers to earn bread and butter through traditional farming.

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“We need to shift from traditional farming to high-value crops. Cluster farming can also be a choice for modern agriculture farming,” he stated. “The farmers should shift their focus to tunnel and hybrid systems in the form of clusters.”

Since there are scattered examples of good earnings through corporate farming, there is an urgent need for promoting this culture on a mass scale.

Kashif Hanif and Muhammad Naveed from Dhanot in Lodhran district can validly be quoted for earning reasonable income by cultivating high-value crops including cucumber and red chilli.

As they did away with taboos and the old style of farming by focusing on high-value crops, persuading others is also direly needed to ensure better income for farmers and avert the upcoming food security issue.

Regarding peasants’ rights, these farmers opined that they should do their bit in opting for novel ways of farming as well as raise voice for their rights for the survival of their families. “In addition to practicing tunnel farming, they should also rear animals as an additional source of income.”

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Assistant Director Fruits and Vegetable Rana Abbas also supported a reduction in inputs cost and said, “soil health was very important for peasants and they should ensure regular examination of soil to maintain its fertility and get enhanced productivity.”

Meanwhile, the Punjab Agriculture department has mentioned to various measures being taken for the benefit of small farmer with an official mentioning to projects worth Rs 300 billion being executed under the national program to enhance produce of wheat, cotton, sunflower and other crops.

“Over Rs one billion subsidy is being provided to around one million farmers through Kisan Cards. Moreover, support price for per 40 kg wheat and sugarcane has been fixed at Rs 3000 and Rs 300 respectively,” he said.

Apart from this, he said, Rs seven billion subsidy has been provided on certified seeds and latest agriculture machinery and Rs 650 million subsidy on laser land levellers. “Issuance of ‘mobile App’ for farmers and many other initiatives have also been taken to strengthen farmers economically.”

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Usman Dar’s brother quits politics citing ‘business commitment’

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Usman Dar's brother quits politics citing 'business commitment'

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar’s brother Amir Dar on Thursday decided to leave the embattled party and quit politics.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Dar condemned the events that unfolded on May 9, adding that he was deciding to quit politics due to business commitments.

“I suffered losses in business because of politics. I have no conflict with any institution,” he added.”

Speaking about the political future of his brothers, Mr Dar said, “It is up to Usman Dar and Asad Dar to stay or leave the party”.

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Earlier today, PTI Sindh President Ameer Bakhsh Bhutto relinquished his post. Addressing a press conference along with PTI Sindh Vice President Allah Bakhsh Unar, Mr Bhutto said, “Now I am not interested in politics. I am ready to sacrifice for the sake of the country and my companions”.

He added, “I will decide the political future in consultation with my companions”.

Speaking about the events that transpired on May 9, Mr Bhutto said, “The vandalism on May 9 is condemnable.”

Taking a jibe at the embattled party, Mr Bhutto said, “Why were military installations attacked?”

Meanwhile, Mr Unar also relinquished his posts following the May 9 mayhem. 

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PTI Sindh President Amir Bakhsh Bhutto relinquishes his posts

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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Sindh President Ameer Bakhsh Bhutto relinquished his post on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference along with PTI Sindh Vice President Allah Bakhsh Unar, Mr Bhutto said, “Now I am not interested in politics. I am ready to sacrifice for the sake of the country and my companions”.

He added, “I will decide the political future in consultation with my companions”.

Speaking about the events that transpired on May 9, Mr Bhutto said, “The vandalism on May 9 is condemnable.”

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Taking a jibe at the embattled party, Mr Bhutto said, “Why were military installations attacked?”

Meanwhile, Mr Unar also relinquished his posts following the May 9 mayhem. 

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Zoo elephant ‘Madhubala’ infected with blood parasite

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Zoo elephant 'Madhubala' infected with blood parasite

In a concerning development, the beloved zoo elephant, Madhubala, has been diagnosed with a blood parasite infection on Thursday.

The authorities have swiftly taken action to safeguard the elephant’s health and prevent the spread of the infection.

Today, the first dose of a vaccine was administered to Madhubala in order to protect her from further complications caused by the parasite. The dedicated veterinary team will closely monitor her progress, and the second dose of the vaccine is scheduled to be given after a period of 15 days.

To ensure a comprehensive assessment of Madhubala condition, zoo authorities have decided to send her blood samples for laboratory testing precisely 15 days after the administration of the vaccine.

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Based on the results of these tests, a decision will be made regarding Madhubala relocation to the Safari Park.

The director of the zoo highlighted the significance of taking immediate action to mitigate the spread of the infection. As a preventive measure, a disinfectant spray campaign has been initiated throughout the zoo premises.

The authorities are working on an emergency basis, focusing not only on the health of Madhubala but also on the well-being of other rare species of animals housed within the zoo.

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