ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) has alleged that the government policies have reduced the area under cultivation and production of oilseeds which is being compensated through enhanced imports draining forex reserves.
It said that the continued reduction in oilseed production indicates lack of interest on the part of planters which is a very dangerous trend.
While talking to President of a farmer’s representative body, PEW President Dr Murtaza Mughal and others here on Wednesday said that policy to please the nobility has damaged the agricultural sector once considered the backbone of the economy.
Giving an example, he said that the import of oil seed has increased from 7.5 lakh tons to 31 lakh tons over the last five years because it suits an influential lobby which is a drain on the forex reserves.
The PEW president said that the unabated imports have discouraged farmers of oilseed resulting in a reduction of 2.5 lakh tons of oil production in the last few years.
Dr Murtaza Mughal said that the government has increased duty on import of soybean oil by 32.6 percent in the budget which has increased its price.
The decision will encourage the import of oilseed to five million tons in the next twelve months hitting exchequer, masses and farmers, he warned.
The president of PEW said that the government will have to bear the loss of around twenty billion rupees in one year on account of reduced duties and taxes on import of oil seed while the masses will also pay an additional amount of twenty billion due to the increase in the price by Rs5 per kg of ghee and cooking oil.
He said that how come the farmers can fetch a reasonable price for oil seed production when imported oilseed is so heavily subsidized which has triggered shifting of planters to other crops.
Dr Mughal said that the government should not promote influential, rather it should give subsidy to farmers which will improve their lives, ensure low-cost edible oil to the masses and add to the GDP.