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Pakistan: Farmers to Protest Nationwide from May 10 Against Wheat Crisis

Amritanshu Raj

Kissan Ittehad Pakistan, a farmers’ alliance, has announced nationwide demonstrations against the ongoing wheat crisis starting from May 10, with Multan as the starting point. The crisis stems from plummeting wheat rates in the market, falling significantly below the support price of Rs3,900 per 40kg. Despite a local “bumper crop,” the decision to import wheat has drawn criticism.


Previous Protests and Government Response

Last month, farmers protested in Lahore and several other cities, prompting a government crackdown. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s administration, despite promises to safeguard farmers’ interests, appears hesitant to thoroughly investigate the wheat import and hold responsible parties accountable.

The government has formed a cabinet committee to investigate why the previous caretaker government, led by then-PM Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, imported wheat despite sufficient domestic supply.

Khalid Khokhar, president of the farmers’ alliance, expressed determination to relaunch protests nationwide. He emphasized that the demonstrations aim not only to benefit farmers but also to save the country from economic losses.

Khokhar blamed the caretaker government for causing a loss of over Rs 400 billion to the national exchequer by importing $1 billion worth of wheat during a forex shortage. He highlighted the disparity between the profits made by the “mafia” and the losses incurred by farmers.


Financial Impact on Farmers

According to Khokhar, farmers suffered significant financial losses, with approximately Rs 400 billion lost due to selling wheat at lower rates. Additionally, the government incurred a loss of Rs 150 billion in interest on surplus wheat.

The financial strain on farmers, Khokhar warned, affects other crops like rice and cotton, as farmers lack the resources to invest in their cultivation.


Concerns Over Urea Prices

Khokhar cited the inflated prices of urea, a key agricultural input, as another challenge faced by farmers. He claimed that farmers spent Rs150 billion on urea for wheat cultivation at prices higher than the market rate, exacerbating their financial burden.


Call for Government Accountability

Khokhar questioned the government’s failure to protect farmers and regulate agricultural inputs like urea, which have varying prices due to lack of government oversight. He criticized the authorities for not prioritizing farmers’ welfare in decision-making processes.


Upcoming Protests

The Kissan Ittehad announced plans to lead nationwide protests against the government’s wheat policy, starting from Multan on May 10. Thousands of farmers, accompanied by their families and livestock, are expected to participate in the demonstrations.

Despite acknowledging the inconvenience caused by protests, Khokhar stressed the importance of advocating for farmers’ rights, as agriculture plays a pivotal role in Pakistan’s economy.

“Our only goal is to extend relief,” Khokhar reiterated, emphasizing the indispensable role of agriculture in sustaining the nation’s livelihoods.

As the wheat crisis continues to impact farmers across Pakistan, the Kissan Ittehad’s decision to mobilize nationwide protests reflects growing frustration and discontent within the agricultural community. With concerns over financial losses, inflated input prices, and government accountability, farmers are determined to voice their grievances and seek solutions to alleviate their plight.

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