Wheat farmers face transportation issues amid lockdown in Sindh

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LAHORE: Amid lockdown across the country in the aftermath of coronavirus outbreak, wheat farmers in Sindh are facing issues in transporting their harvested wheat to procurement centres set up by the federal and provincial governments as part of their procurement drive. 

In a high level meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister mran Khan also feared that due to complete lockdown and expected curfew in the country, wheat farmers may face issues in bringing their harvested crops to the procurement centres. 

 The harvesting of wheat crop was initiated in lower Sindh about 15 days ago. 

Talking to Pakistan Today, Ajmal Summo, a wheat farmer from Badin, said, “I am done with the harvesting of my wheat crop but due to curfew and complete lockdown in the province, we do not have any any transport that could take our crop to procurement centres.”

Agreeing with him, Bilal Summo, another wheat farmer, requested Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to ensure that farmers are allowed or provided transport to carry the harvested crops to procurement centres.  

Talking to this scribe, a senior official of the national food department said that Punjab and Sindh initiated the wheat procurement process from Wednesday (today). “Initially, 1,162 wheat procurement centres are made functional today, including 382 wheat procurement centres in Punjab, while the issue of gunny bags to the farmers is scheduled to commence from April 5.” 

The harvesting of wheat crop is likely to be initiated in Punjab, the largest grower of the commodity, in the first week of April. 

 The official said that the procurement would be done on a ‘first come first serve’ basis. 

Meanwhile, farmers in Punjab also fear the transportation issues in light of issues faced by farmers in Sindh. 

Jamil Abbas, a wheat farmer from Chiniot, said that in Sindh, farmers are finding it difficult to bring their harvested crops to the procurement centres “and we fear the same in Punjab.”  

Talking to this scribe, Ahsan Budh, a farmer from Muzaffargarh, said that wheat harvesting would start as per schedule because farmers never go on strike and that lockdown hardly impacts the rural side. 

Moreover, he the labourer lot from villages working in cities are back home and all of them are eyeing wheat crop, so there would be no shortage of labour to cut and thresh the crop. 

“Now it’s the government part to see how it arranged hassle free delivery of gunny bags and smooth procurement and payment processes,” he added. 

 

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