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Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) has opposed diversion of natural gas from fertilizer sector to power sector, saying that any such action would take urea price to Rs 2,200 per bag.

President PKI Khalid Mahmood Khokhar while talking to Business Recorder said if proposal of Petroleum Ministry is approved by the ECC on Tuesday (today) then this will have disastrous impact on the agriculture of the country and the farming community. According to the president PKI, Petroleum Ministry has recommended that gas should be diverted from urea fertilizer manufacturing plants to other sectors. "This will increase urea fertilizer price to around Rs 2,000 to 2,200 per bag from the current price of 1,850 per bag and Rs 1,370 per bag in December 2017," he said, adding that the government must also make sure that urea fertilizer is not black-marketed to farmers which is happening at present due to its shortage.

Khokhar was of the view that urea fertilizer is already short for the Rabi season and farmers are suffering badly due to its shortage. The current wheat crop is already suffering due to lack of urea, adding that the closure of urea plants due to diversion of gas to other sectors will reduce the production of wheat and Pakistan will be forced to import the commodity.

He strongly protested on proposed closure of urea plants and demanded that all urea plants be kept operational throughout 2019. He said wheat is the most important food crop which uses more than 50% of the urea off-take in the country. Any shortage of urea fertilizer during the current Rabi season will bring disaster not just for the farmers of Pakistan but also for food production in the country. In India the price of 50kg urea bag is INR 268, which is equal to Pak Rs 536 per bag. In Pakistan it is almost 3.5 times higher at Rs 1,850 per bag. In many countries fertilizer is subsidised to allow farmers to produce more crops so the country can prosper. But this is going in opposite direction in Pakistan. Allowing urea to be sold at higher than maximum retail price and then shutting down plants is negligence towards the farmers of the country. Also, availability of ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate is important. Calcium ammonium nitrate plant, which is closed, should also be re-started.

Pakistan is focusing on exports but no exports of wheat, cotton or any other crop will take place if the price of urea fertilizer is not controlled, he warned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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