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Interest-free loans to small farmers wouldn’t end role of middleman: PKI

ISLAMABAD: The farmers’ associations on Saturday said that provision of interest free loans to small farmers announced in the budget 2021-2022 would empower small growers but it would not end the role of middleman in agriculture sector.

The government has decided to provide Rs250,000 interest-free farming loans and Rs200,000 interest free loan for tractors and other machinery to farmers to end the role of middlemen in the agriculture sector.

Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) president Khalid Mehmood Khokhar said that the provision of interest-free loan to farmers would not only strengthen the farmers but it will also boost agriculture productivity as it would enable growers to timely purchase agriculture inputs like fertiliser, pesticides and quality seeds. He further said that abolishment of the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on tractors and not imposing 10 percent General Sales Tax (GST) on fertilisers and pesticides are also good steps and would provide relief to the farmers’ community.

However, he said that it would not play any role in curbing the role of middlemen. The middlemen have been playing an influential role in the agriculture sector for decades, acting on behalf of farmers who have no access to markets and to curb the role of middlemen the government needs to make a huge investment in the agriculture sector.

He also said that during the recently held National Kissan Convention, farmers’ representatives were not allowed to meet with Prime Minister to inform him about their grievances.

Sindh Abadgar Ittihad (SAI) president Nawab Zubair Talpur said that if the scheme of provision of interest free loan for every crop had been announced by the government, it would have definitely strengthened small farmers in the country.

He said that government also needs to take effective steps for improvement of quality of tractors as local manufacturers of tractors are producing sub-standard tractors. Provision of interest free loans for tractor is a good step but government also needs to abolish GST on tractors to reduce its price, he said.

Despite tall claims by the government to empower farmers, he added, it has not invited farmers from Sindh province in the recently held National Kissan Convention. His association has written a letter to Prime Minister expressing its angst for not being invited to Kissan convention, he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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