Protests are planned for the fall in wheat prices

Protests are planned for the fall in wheat prices

Pakistan’s bumper wheat crop this year appears to be a nightmare for farmers as the market has collapsed and growers are forced to sell the staple crop well below the support price set by the government.

As Punjab accounts for more than 75% of the total wheat harvest, farmers in the province are upset and have announced a nationwide strike on April 25.

“We will not harvest the wheat crop next year, if the exploitation of farmers continues, both by the middlemen and the government,” Pakistan Kissan Board Central Chairman Sardar Zafar Hussain Khan said on Tuesday.

The wheat harvest has begun, but the government has yet to reveal a clear purchasing policy. “As a result, the price of wheat has plummeted to Rs1,000 per 40 kg as middlemen have started exploiting the situation,” Khan said, adding “we launched a protest, but if the government does not come up with an immediate solution, then we can turn the protest into a sit- in.”

The government has fixed the support price for the wheat crop at Rs3,900 per 40 kg this year, but the farmers’ lobby claims that the Punjab food department and the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Supplies Corporation are yet to start purchasing the commodity. “Pakistan’s agriculture is witnessing the most difficult time in history as the farming community has suffered losses in two aspects. On the one hand, the cost of crop production has doubled since 2023 while the price of other major crops has dropped by an average of 25%,” said Khalid Khokhar, President of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad. “These two aspects have made the agricultural business unviable.”

According to the farmers’ lobby, during 2023, farmers paid a whopping Rs300 billion – above the retail price set by the fertilizer industry – to market exploiters due to black marketing of urea. Despite farmers’ cries, the government failed to enforce its writ to ensure availability of urea at the set retail price.

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